Robert De Niro
Denis Makarenko /

Wait, are we sure this is a ‘Joker’ movie and not ‘Bizarro’?  When this project was first announced, with Martin Scorsese producing, that was mind-blowing enough.  Then eccentric, highbrow actor Joaquin Phoenix was cast as the lead.  Neither Scorsese nor Phoenix are the types of talents that anyone immediately associates with a comic book movie.  Now this latest bit of buzz may trump them both, as Robert De Niro is rumored to be signing on as well!

One of the most famous and successful actors in Hollywood is said to be in negotiations to cco-starin Todd Phillips’ upcoming outside-the-DC-Universe origin picture.  His role is reportedly that of a TV talk show host who somehow plays an important part in the life of Phoenix’s proto-super villain, who starts out as a struggling stand up comedian.

You may recall that when ‘Joker’ was first announced, Scorsese and others associated with it made overt comparisons to gritty crime dramas like ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Goodfellas’, but who would have imagined that they’d manage to land the lead from those movies for this one?  De Niro actually won the Academy Award for ‘Raging Bull’ as well as one for ‘The Godfather Part II’, another crime movie that will probably influence this.  De Niro has also been nominated for the Academy Award for ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘The Deer Hunter’, ‘Awakenings’, ‘Cape Fear’ and most recently ‘Silver Linings Playbook’.  And while De Niro is one o f the most respected– and imitated– actors in Hollywood, he has been known to embrace the commercial side, with comedies like the ‘Meet The Parents/Fockers/etc’ series, ‘Limitless’ and ‘Bad Grandpa’.

Along the lines of De Niro’s early crime flicks, ‘Joker’ has a small budget of $55 million, vastly less than that of the typical comic book movie.  Things look to be advancing quickly.  Filming is set to begin in September in New York City.  Zazie Beetz is also reported to be in talks to join the cast.  ‘Joker’ is expected to be the first film under a special “boutique banner” possibly named DC Black or DC Dark.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter