How 'Joker' Fits Into the DC Cinematic Universe

Joker was released in cinemas earlier in October, with Joaquin Phoenix becoming the latest actor to play the DC Comics character. Phoenix is the one of around half a dozen actors to bring the Batman character to life in just over a decade onscreen, with Jared Leto, Heath Ledger and Cameron Monaghan playing the character while Mark Hamill, Zach Galifinakis and Troy Baker are among those who have voiced the character.

All these different versions of the Joker serve to complicate the DC Cinematic Universe, with each version having its own canon and links to other films. The new film version of Joker, however, tries to abandon this complex cinematic history in order to allow the character to stand by itself.

At a Toronto International Film Festival Q&A, director Todd Phillips said: "It's not really connected to that [DC Movie] Universe and it was really intentionally not. I mean the original idea when I went to [Warner Bros.] with the idea was not just about one movie but about a label—sort of a side label to DC, where you can do these kind of character study, low-rent, low-budget movies, where you get a filmmaker to come in and do some deep dive into a character. So it was never meant to connect, so I don't see it connecting to anything in the future. I think this is just this movie, you know?"

joaquin phoenix joker dc universe
Joaquin Phoenix's Joker is not connected to the current DC Cinematic Universe. Warner Bros.

Though initially DC tried to ape the Marvel idea of a cinematic universe with 2013's Man of Steel and a series of films that led up to 2017's Justice League and continue with films like Aquaman and Wonder Woman 1984, they have since changed strategy and worried less about making all of their films tie-in to one another.

In 2017, DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson told Vulture: "Our intention, certainly, moving forward is using the continuity to help make sure nothing is diverging in a way that doesn't make sense, but there's no insistence upon an overall story line or interconnectivity in that universe."

She added: "Some of the movies do connect the characters together, like Justice League. But, like with Aquaman, our goal is not to connect Aquaman to every movie."

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Jared Leto is the current Joker for the DC Cinematic Universe Warner Bros.

However, Joker takes this one step further by totally creating its own, standalone world which even has its own Bruce Wayne (Dante Pereira-Olson), separate from the one played by Ben Affleck, as well as the one soon to be played by Robert Pattinson, who is playing a younger version of the Affleck Batman.

However, the DCEU does have its own Joker. This is currently Jared Leto, as seen in 2016's Suicide Squad. This character was announced for his own film in 2018, though there has not been an update of that project since. At that time, the Phoenix Joker was said to exist in what was being touted as the 'DC Dark' or 'DC Black' universe according to The Hollywood Reporter, though Phillips' comments seem to suggest this universe will not be expanded any further.

Joker is in cinemas now.