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Before 'Joker,' Star Joaquin Phoenix Turned Down Marvel

Gettyimages | FREDERIC J. BROWN
By Beca Dalimonte

On Oscar night Joaquin Phoenix took home the award for Best Actor for his role in the comic book-based film Joker. The DC film was praised for being a departure from the typical superhero fare and for Phoenix's emotional performance.

Some fans may know that Phoenix is a fan of comic books, once lamenting that his childhood copies weren't worth as much as he thought they'd be.

Few may know, however, that before Phoenix took on the role of the enemy of The Dark Knight he was offered a key role in a Marvel film - which he decided to decline despite the franchise's popularity.

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It may surprise fans of the Marvel universe that the role offered to Phoenix was the titular character of Doctor Strange. Although Benedict Cumberbatch had always been a contender for the role, scheduling conflicts with Hamlet and Sherlock made him unavailable at the time of the initial shoot. This left the role to Phoenix, who was a promising contender among names like Tom Hardy and Jared Leto.

In fact, negotiations for the role were practically wrapped up when Phoenix abruptly decided to pull out of the deal.

Gettyimages | Matt Winkelmeyer

"I’m not just being difficult. I’m just trying to find what works for me," Phoenix insisted. "I don’t want to commit to something and not fulfill those obligations. I enjoy watching those movies. Did you see the rebooted Star Trek? That kid Chris Pine who plays Kirk is f****** genius. I just don’t know if I want to have the experience of being in them. I’ve read some of those scripts and 75 percent is a description of some asteroid going through space."

Although the 45 year old actor says he respects the Marvel franchise, he acknowledges that it just wasn't for him.

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Phoenix has no regrets about his decision to back out of the film, even after the grand finale of the franchise's first half, Avengers: Endgame, broke box office records last year.

"I think that everybody was, is… I’m trying to figure out how to say this most diplomatically, okay," the actor started. "I think everybody was really happy with how things turned out. All parties were satisfied."

He went on to say "I think they make some great, fun movies. There’s nothing wrong. [...] I enjoy those movies sometimes, and I think they keep the f****** industry going in some ways, so I don’t have a problem with it at all.”

Gettyimages | Jason LaVeris

After Joker, Phoenix will be going back to independent films, with his next project being an untitled project from Mike Mills, who is known for his films Beginners and 20th Century Women.

It is reported that, like Joker, the film will touch on the subject of mental illness, being about a boy whose father struggles with his bipolar disorder.

Joaquin is also known for his roles in films like Her and Walk the Line, the latter of which won him the Golden Globe for Best Actor.

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