The Joker movie starring Joaquin Phoenix is happening and is casting up, with the latest hire being Alec Baldwin as Thomas Wayne, father of Bruce Wayne. But wait, there’s more! Because we live in the darkest timeline, this isn’t any old Thomas Wayne, benevolent billionaire philanthropist and predestined murder victim. No, this is a NEW TAKE on Thomas Wayne! Alec Baldwin’s Thomas Wayne will be a Donald Trump-style “cheesy and tanned” businessman. That is such an unpleasant collection of words.
Turning Thomas Wayne into a Trumpy businessman is a head-scratcher. The whole point of Thomas and Martha Wayne is that they are good people, actively using their money to better their city, who are then murdered, turning their son into a damaged sociopath who dresses up like a bat and uses his fists to pummel their city into shape (and not like, funding social programs that would give people a path out of poverty, Bruce Wayne is better as a billionaire than as Batman don’t @ me). I’m not sure what turning Thomas Wayne into an obnoxious businessman accomplishes other than to potentially build sympathy for the Joker. Which is an…interesting approach to a guy who literally kills people for sh*ts and giggles.
Of course Joker-mark-Joaquin could always turn out to be a good movie. (Anything is possible if you dream big enough!) But I will remind everyone what Alan Moore, writer of the seminal Joker origin story The Killing Joke, said of turning the Joker into a protagonist: “I think it put far too much melodramatic weight upon a character that was never designed to carry it.” The Joker isn’t designed to do the narrative job of a protagonist, and now we have to stare at Alec Baldwin doing his (bad) Trump impression as Thomas Wayne. Of course the movie could be good, but all of this sounds bad. Although I guess this makes Joker-mark-Joaquin a can’t-lose proposition: Either it is actually good, or it’s entertainingly bad.