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Joaquin Phoenix on Starring in Superhero Movies: ‘It’s Best I Don’t Do It’

Joaquin Phoenix superhero movies
Warner Bros.

Over the past few years, Joaquin Phoenix has flirted with multiple big-budget superhero movies. He was offered roles in The Avengers (as Bruce Banner/Hulk), Batman vs. Superman and Marvel’s Doctor Strange, and come very close to signing a deal (Marvel was hoping up until the very last moment to be able to introduce Phoenix as Strange at Comic-Con in 2014) before eventually opting to pass on all three. But, why? The actor opened up about his decision making process admitting that it’s probably best if he doesn’t ever star in a superhero movie.

Phoenix spoke to Time Out London and even admitted that at some point in his career he was a “bit of a snob” about blockbuster type movies.

I’ve flirted with several of those films, having meetings and getting close, but ultimately it never felt like they’d really be fulfilling. There were too many requirements that went against my instincts for character. I’ve been spoiled. I’ve never had to make those compromises. I’ve not met a director yet with one of those films where we go through the script, they say: ‘You know what, fuck this set-piece, let’s focus on the character!’ I understand, but it’s best I don’t do it.

There have been reports over the years that Phoenix was particularly concerned about his ability to work heavily in motion-capture or against greenscreen, something that would have been a big part of both Avengers and Doctor Strange. He doesn’t specifically address that in this interview but does add, “I’ve read some of those scripts and 75 percent is a description of some asteroid going through space.”

This is not to say that Phoenix would ever rule it out. He does admit to enjoying watching all those movies, and specifically calls out J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot (“That kid Chris Pine who plays Kirk is fucking genius”). But, if he does ever decide on a superhero project, it needs to be the right one. “I’m just trying to find what works for me. I don’t want to commit to something and not fulfil those obligations.”

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