It's official: Joaquin Phoenix is slated to play Batman's most infamous nemesis in a standalone origin story film. The film will be an "exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study but also a broader cautionary tale," co-writer and director Todd Phillips (of The Hangover fame) told the The Hollywood Reporter.
While the leading man was just announced, development of the movie has been known for nearly a year. The budget is reportedly around $55 million, suggesting it will be a more low key story than DC's other recent outings, which have all cost at least twice that. The film does not yet have a release date, but shooting is set to begin in September in New York.
Jared Leto—whose most recent claim to fame is being the milquetoast white lead of a universally panned Netflix thriller about the Yakuza—is also reprising his role as the Joker in his own standalone film, as well as the upcoming Suicide Squad 2. In case you've forgotten, Suicide Squad was also thoroughly panned. Hopefully Phoenix's comportment on set will be better than the man who gifted a live rat to Margot Robbie and sent other cast members a dead hog, used condoms, and anal beads.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film will be "darker and more experimental in tone and content," which favorably calls to memory The Dark Knight, and Heath Ledger's incredibly compelling and devastating portrayal of The Joker. Frankly, it seems unlikely that that performance will ever be topped. But with two Joker movies and the Harley Quinn "girl gang" spin-off Birds of Prey, Warner Bros. is aggressively tossing its hat in the ring. Only time will tell.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.