Tom Jolliffe on why Robert Pattinson could have been even more interesting playing the Joker rather than Bruce Wayne…
So an admission of somewhat contradicting myself. I’d recently written a piece on the potential for Batman fatigue given there’s so much Bat related action coming in the next year or two. Yet here I am talking all things Gotham again. That being said, we’re talking the Clown Prince of Crime here, but even so, with very recent turns from Jared Leto, and more successfully, Joaquin Phoenix, there’s certainly been no shortage of Joker films.
Robert Pattinson is playing Bruce Wayne. We’ve all seen the trailer. Make of it what you will, but it looks promising without looking Earth shatteringly different. Pattinson is a fantastic actor and will undoubtedly bring a dedication to push the character to places that could well be interesting. I’d also say there’s a likelihood we’ll see Pattinson potentially offer a complexity that perhaps Ben Affleck has never quite managed to achieve as an actor. We’ve seen very good performances from Affleck. However we’ve seen great performances from Pattinson. Not least in films like High Life, Good Time and The Lighthouse.
Now I love The Lighthouse. It’s a perfect exercise in allowing two excellent actors the freedom to completely let loose. The kind of freedom a certain Jack Nicholson had in the similarly cabin fever themed, The Shining. Of course, Nicholson also brought his distinct verve for batshit craziness to his depiction of The Joker in Tim Burton’s iconic Batman. Pattinson’s descent into madness was wonderful and the fiery unpredictability of his outbursts and explosions of energy were a joy to watch. In fact it got me thinking…maybe he was ultimately cast in the Gotham role less attuned to his talent to go ‘all out.’ Not every actor has that ability to so beautifully let loose, whilst still maintaining something believable about their character. The most iconic film Joker’s have certainly been played by actors with unique skills. Nicholson and Phoenix in particular had this incredible spark, with the latter really inhabiting the role beautifully. Heath Ledger was completely immersed and full of intensity too, and probably remains my favourite incarnation. Lets face it, The Joker has an enigma that makes him a bit more magnetic than Wayne. That being said, as far as comic book heroes, Wayne is still one of the more interesting and complex, and indeed there’s scope to find some caveats that weren’t covered (not too many mind you, as Nolan did such a great job).
In an alternate universe somewhere, Pattinson signed up to play the Joker. What would he bring to the role? I think there’s a distinct volatile lunacy where the character loses control that is still left open. A way to do it theatrically, touching upon what Nicholson did (which felt inherently more Nicholson than it did Joker perhaps) and with a complex flamboyance more reminiscent of some of the animated depictions. To an extent, Jared Leto attempted this in Suicide Squad but didn’t hit the mark (and wasn’t helped by a poor script, design choices and limited screen time). After his work in The Lighthouse, perhaps in this alternate universe, Pattinson signs up as the Joker, whilst fans get the more granite jawed Wayne they were cloying for. Maybe we’d see an interesting new spin with Pattinson offering his own kind of lunacy. Phoenix played it gritty. Heath Ledger played it with a feeling of distinct control and clarity underneath the theatrics. As Pattinson loses his shit over mermaids, relentless foghorns and the perpetual farts of his wickie partner in The Lighthouse, I couldn’t help but wonder if that fragmentation could be translated to the Clown Prince.
Back in reality of course, it’s unlikely we’ll see another depiction of the Joker for a few years yet. Phoenix, who gave the performance of 2019, would be very difficult to match. Then again, we thought the character had been left closed after the imperious performance of Ledger made revisiting the Joker seem futile. There’s a wry part of me, in a future inevitable sequel with Pattinson’s Batman reboot, that would love to see him take on dual roles. R-Batz versus a Pattinson Joker? Or maybe I’ve been at the Scarecrow’s hallucinogens. Do you think Pattinson could have made a good Joker? Let us know your thoughts on our social channels @flickeringmyth…
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has a number of films out on DVD/VOD around the world and several releases due in 2020/21, including The Witches Of Amityville (starring Emmy winner, Kira Reed Lorsch), War of The Worlds: The Attack and the star studded action films, Renegades (Lee Majors, Billy Murray) and Crackdown. Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see…https://www.instagram.com/jolliffeproductions/