BURBANK, CA—Warner Bros. released creepy new test footage Monday of Joel Osteen in his forthcoming role as Batman's archnemesis, the Joker.
While Joaquin Phoenix had originally been cast for the part, a WB producer saw footage of Osteen preaching and knew they "just had to have him" as the deranged, smiling villain of Gotham city.
"We're playing with the backstory a little bit, integrating some of Osteen's background," said director Todd Phillips. "Every Joker actor we've had in the past brought a little bit of himself to the role, and Osteen is no different."
The origin story will reportedly explain how Osteen's Joker got his eerily white smile, mystical powers of deception, and declarative superpowers that allow him to bend God's will to his own.
Part of the test footage showed Osteen precariously perched on a catwalk suspended above a pool of boiling green acid, setting off wild speculation that his origin story would parallel that of Joker as portrayed in Alan Moore's classic "The Killing Joke," wherein the Joker got his start in a life of manic crime by jumping into a pool of harmful chemicals.
"Come on, being pushed into a boiling vat of acid? That's so cliché," local comic book store owner Eric Swisher posted on an online message board. "I guarantee you they're leading us on. For what it's worth, my money's on some kind of shadow organization's experimental testing program resulting in the creation of the Joker, so that he can deceive tens of thousands of people each Sunday while fighting Batman by night."
At publishing time, Warner Bros. had confirmed Osteen would also be considered for the role of Yakko in an upcoming live-action remake of Animaniacs.