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Joaquin Phoenix's Joker won't meet Robert Pattinson's Batman

Joaquin Phoenix's unstoppable force will not be meeting Robert Pattinson's immovable object on screen anytime soon.

At least, that's what Joker helmer Todd Phillips believes. Though the rumor of a possible on-screen pairing of Phoenix's Joker and Pattinson's Batman has been very much spinning of late (especially after Pattinson's recent slip of the tongue seemed to confirm it), Phillips himself used a recent interview with Variety as a chance to squash those rumors pretty definitively. When asked if the current Clown Prince of Crime and future Dark Knight might trade barbs (and likely blows) in Pattinson's upcoming The Batman, Phillips offered a simple but curt response: "No, definitely not." 

The director further added that there will be a chance for Pattinson's Batman to cross paths with the Joker — but it probably won't be the one played by Phoenix. As Phillips explained, "Oddly, in the states, comic books are our Shakespeare it seems, and you can do many many versions of Hamlet. There will be many more Jokers, I'm sure, in the future." 

While those remarks certainly put a damper on fan theories imagining a harrowing showdown between two of the more intriguing actors around these days, it's hard to imagine producers not jumping at the chance to pair these profoundly talented performers on screen. It's worth noting as well that Phoenix was infamously coy about his role in Joker prior to an official announcement being made, often flat out denying his involvement. So for now, it may be best to take Phillips' words with a grain of salt, as he might be purposely misdirecting fans. 

What's most curious about the second part of Phillips' statement is the concept that one "can do many versions" of a character, á la the many performers who have taken the role of Shakespeare's Hamlet over the years. While we wouldn't want to read too much into those words — or the claim that "there will be many more Jokers in the future" — it's hard to ignore the thought that Phillips is implying another actor may soon take over the role from Phoenix. That idea certainly jibes with the ongoing fan theory that Phoenix's Arthur Fleck may not be the Joker as we've come to know him via comics, and films, and television.

Said theory may also align with the notion that Phoenix's take on the villain will indeed the inspiration for a Joker to be named later — possibly the more classic version of Jack Napier. Given that Phillips and Phoenix entered into Joker insisting it be a gritty, low-key character study about the birth of a super-villain, it's worth wondering if this Joker and his particular brand of mayhem may also serve as inspiration for the future Caped Crusader as well. We already know that a young Bruce Wayne (i.e., not Robert Pattinson) will turn up on the fringes of Fleck's story: Dante Pereira-Olson plays Bruce as a child in Joker. This considered, Phillips' statement that Phoenix's Joker will "definitely not" meet Pattinson's Batman seems to hold true, and The Batman could still feature the Joker-slash-Batman showdown fans are clearly clamoring for — just without Phoenix playing the bad guy.

Any way we choose to spin Phillips' words, it's still sort of a bummer that we apparently won't get to see Phoenix and Pattinson face off on the streets of Gotham anytime soon. While Joker continues to rack up accolades and awards, we should all just cling desperately to the idea that Phillips and Phoenix may well come back to Gotham for their own Joker sequel in the future. As to how or if their Joker might factor into the Gotham of The Batman, even if Phoenix isn't involved, is anybody's guess. 

Until those facts become a little clearer, we're going to go ahead and pitch the idea of a Pattinson-led Hamlet featuring Phoenix as his Uncle Claudius. Maybe we can talk Michelle Williams into playing Gertrude? People would pay to see that movie, right?