If Warner Bros. has its way, we may see Joaquin Phoenix like we never have before: as a big-budget, comic-book villain.
According to Variety, the studio is eyeing the Oscar-nominated actor to take on the main bad-guy role in the forthcoming Batman-Superman crossover movie. Details are scant, and sources to the trade say Phoenix's talks have just begin. Taking the role would mark an obvious break from Phoenix's affinity for high-brow directors, a la Paul Thomas Anderson ("The Master") and Spike Jonze ("Her").
Who Phoenix would play in the film is up in the air at the moment. Speculation indicates that power-hungry business magnate Lex Luthor, often considered Superman's archenemy, will be the one to battle the superheroes. Rumors that Bryan Cranston would take on the role flew across the Internet after the movie was announced this past summer, but the "Breaking Bad" star denied any involvement.
Phoenix is reportedly also weighing a part in director Gus Van Sant's "Sea of Trees," in which he'd play a man who ventures to the “Suicide Forest” near Mount Fuji and strikes up a rapport with a Japanese man who has also contemplated taking his own life. That sort of role, especially at the hands of a prestigious director like Van Sant, seems more like Phoenix's specialty. (He worked with Van Sant previously in 1995's "To Die For.") It's unclear whether the actor would be able to star in both movies. As Jamie Williams from the site Think McFly Think noted, Phoenix has turned down blockbuster superhero films before.
Phoenix turned down the Joker in Dark Knight and Bruce Banner in Avengers. Not sure why he would pull a 180. But.. ya never know.
— Jamie (@filmnerdjamie) December 18, 2013
Despite that, it would be a good move for Warner Bros. to cast Phoenix, as the studio wants a name star to round out the cast alongside Henry Cavill's Superman and Ben Affleck's Batman. Both franchises are famous for their A-list villains, from Heath Ledger and Michelle Pfeiffer in the "Batman" movies to Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon in recent "Superman" movies.
Other roles currently cast in "Batman vs. Superman," as it's tentatively being called, are Lois Lane (Amy Adams), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Martha Kent (Diane Lane) and Perry White (Laurence Fishburne). "Game of Thrones" star Jason Momoa is reportedly in talks to take a role, perhaps as another villain, and someone is expected to fill the shoes of The Flash as well.
The Hollywood Reporter revealed on Wednesday that "Argo" writer Chris Terrio will pen the script for the Batman-Superman flick. Terrio won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar last year for "Argo," and his 2006 movie "Heights" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
"Man of Steel" director Zack Snyder will helm the movie, which is expected to open July 17, 2015.