Joaquin Phoenix has finally sealed the deal with Warner Bros to play The Joker in yet another DC stand-alone feature, giving Warner’s the green light to start moving on the project.

Phoenix will take the lead as Batman’s arch nemesis in the Todd Phillips directed origin story which will delve into what it took for the Joker to become a mastermind criminal. Sources say the story will take place in the ’80s and have more of the look of a gritty crime drama than comic-book movie.

The studio describes as being an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study but also a broader cautionary tale.” Scott Silver co-wrote the script.

Also in the news – Billy Dee Williams to make a welcome return as Lando Calrissian in Star Wars Episode IX

The budget has been set at around $50 million with a potentially shoot start in September on the mean streets of New York. A release date has not been set as yet.

This news doesn’t mean that Jared Leto’s days are number in Warner’s DC Universe. The Phoenix vehicle is said to fall under a yet-to-be-announced new banner of DC Comics, which would give the studio the opportunity to expand the canon of the iconic comic-book characters with unique story angles that aren’t included in its current cinematic universe.

Leto is still expected to reprise the role of The Joker in the sequel to Suicide Squad which will be directed by Gavin O’Connor.

Phoenix was last seen in Lynne Ramsey You Were Never Really Here. He can next be seen in Jacques Audiard’s The Sisters Brothers opposite Jake Gyllenhaal and John C. Reilly.