DC’s decision to produce a standalone movie about The Joker was initially met with raised eyebrows. The DCEU already had a Joker in Jared Leto, and while his performance in 2016’s Suicide Squad was divisive, the character was planned to make further appearances.
However, Todd Phillips’ film called for a new Joker to take the lead—one who wouldn’t fit within the bounds of the DCEU. And after much speculation, Joaquin Phoenix officially stepped into the role.
The finished film met with acclaim from audiences, who adored the small-scale and in-depth storytelling. Critics were more divided but generally gave it good reviews, particularly for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance (who won an Academy Award for his role as Arthur Fleck/The Joker).
The film became the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time during its theatrical run, raking in over $1 billion against its $70 million budget.
Joker’s success now raises a new question: Which other DC characters should receive the same standalone treatment that Joker gave to The Joker? Here are our picks for DC characters that would benefit most from the standalone Joker treatment.
Alfred Pennyworth is often described as Batman’s Batman. He keeps Bruce Wayne’s worst impulses in check and tells him what he needs to hear rather than what he wants to hear.
Several great actors have portrayed Alfred over the years, including Michael Caine, Jeremy Irons, and Michael Gough, and all of them have brought something unique to the role.
Which proves that the character still has a lot worth exploring. A movie that tells Alfred’s story as a mercenary, the years he spent working in British special forces, and how he came to be Thomas Wayne’s butler could be a fascinating look into one of DC’s great side characters.
Alfred’s backstory is filled with mystery to the general superhero movie fan because he isn’t a character that garners the spotlight. However, Alfred’s role in pushing the Dark Knight to where he needs to go is one of the most significant relationships within the entire DC franchise.
He’s like a father to Bruce Wayne, and seeing where that relationship fostered itself could be one of DC’s best movies.
Of course, there’s already has been a movie based on Catwoman—and it’s famously terrible. However, this shouldn’t detract from the complex character of Selina Kyle and the potential she has.
Forgetting Halle Berry’s film, Selina Kyle is a woman that isn’t too dissimilar from Batman himself. Selina has a dual identity as Catwoman and herself, using fear as a weapon against those who oppose her, and she often fights against injustice.
An intimate character study of Catwoman could be a masterstroke by DC, who could simultaneously dispel the previous movie’s infamy and give the character a brand new life going forward.
A movie set in Gotham, maybe with her interacting with Batman throughout, would be different and intriguing. Mainly because we’d see Selina’s perspective on her actions, but also because her feelings for Batman could compromise her criminal actions.
3. Harvey Dent
On the big screen, we’ve seen Harvey Dent on numerous occasions. Portrayed with varying degrees of success by Billy Dee Williams, Tommy Lee Jones, and Aaron Eckhart, each iteration has felt like a radically different version of Harvey.
However, looking at Harvey Dent as his own main character as he rises through Gotham’s corrupt political underbelly to become District Attorney? Oh, that could be an amazing film!
His story is an interesting one, and one that would feel more like a drama rather than a superhero spin-off movie. His transformation into Two-Face could be part of the picture, too, looking at what happened to Harvey to make him the infamous criminally-insane murderer.
2. Lex Luthor
Lex Luthor is supposed to be one of the most intelligent characters in DC. He’s the counter to Superman, the Man of Steel’s greatest enemy, and one of The Justice League’s most serious threats.
To date, Lex Luthor has been acted by Kevin Spacey, Jesse Eisenberg, and Gene Hackman. But we’ve never understood big-screen Luthor, mainly because he’s never been the subject of thorough exploration.
Spacey and Hackman’s Luthors felt similar because Superman Returns was a sequel to the classic Superman movies, whereas Eisenberg’s Luthor was markedly different with strange ticks and the energy of a dog that wants the ball to be thrown.
A Lex Luthor movie that delves into the mastermind in his younger years and his use of superior intellect over non-Kryptonian beings might be the perfect standalone follow-up to Joker.
The character needs a reboot of sorts, and Joker’s success has allowed DC to give Lex Luthor a deeper backstory that could finally make audiences see why he’s so bitter towards Superman.
1. Ra’s al Ghul
Just because Joker was grounded in a grim reality doesn’t mean all of these standalone DC movies need to have the same gritty realism.
The story of Ra’s al Ghul takes place across hundreds of years, as the mystical leader of The League of Assassins uses Lazarus Pits to bring himself everlasting life.
Born around six hundred years before Batman’s lifetime, the tale of Ra’s includes: saving the life of a prince using a newly discovered Lazarus Pit; betrayed by the Sultan and sentenced to death; set free and exacting vengeance on those who betrayed him; becoming Ra’s al Ghul.
A film that looks at Ra’s during his early years and the story of him as a man—rather than the mystical assassin he becomes—would be a bold picture for DC to make, as well as a fascinating character study.