ComicBook.com has confirmed the casting with Warner Bros., with Cullen stepping into the role once occupied by Alec Baldwin. Baldwin, however, dropped out of the role when a scheduling conflict did not allow him to appear alongside Joaquin Phoenix's Joker in the DC Comics villain's origin story film.
Cullen is best known for roles in Ghost Rider as Barton Blaze and The Dark Knight Rises where he played a Congressman. Clearly, this is not his first time working with Warner Bros. on a DC Comics film. His other credits include roles in Person of Interest, The Replacements, as Goodwin Stanhope on ABC's hit show LOST.
The Thomas Wayne fans will meet in Joker is not one described as one aiming for fan-favoritism. Cullen's version of the character is expected to be a less friendly iteration, playing a role in the Joker's origin story in one way or another. It will feature a very young Bruce Wayne, years before he put on a cape to become Batman.
The Joker film is in its early stages of production, with Phoenix having been spotted on set for the first time over the weekend. An official photo of the actor as he will appear in the film was released, also naming him Arthur Fleck. Sources tell ComicBook.com the film has not made an official target of a particular MPAA rating but has several intense and violent story beats which might lend themselves to an R-rating. Phillips has a strong history with R-rated films, best known for his gig in charge of The Hangover.
“I wouldn’t quite classify this as like any genre," Phoenix said in a recent interview. "I wouldn’t say it’s a superhero movie, or a studio movie or a … It feels unique, and I think more then anything, and probably the most important thing, is Todd seems very passionate about it and very giving, and so that’s exciting. I think, underneath the excitement of these films, and the size of them, there are these incredible characters that are dealing with real life struggles. And sometimes that is uncovered and exposed, and sometimes it isn’t, and so I always felt, like, there were characters in comics that were really interesting and deserve the opportunity to be kind of studied. And so I think that’s what Todd sees appealing about this idea."
Joker is expected to debut in theaters on October 4, 2019. Upcoming DC Extended Universe (isolated from the Joker movie) films include Aquaman on December 21st, Shazam on April 5, 2019, and Wonder Woman 2 on November 1, 2019.