The Joker origin film coming from Todd Phillips and Martin Scorsese

It’s not all about Jared Leto as Warner Bros prep a stand-alone origin for the Clown Prince Of Crime

Whatever you thought of Jared Leto’s performance as the Joker in Suicide Squad, the character remains one of the most recognisable, beloved and likely profitable figures in Warner Bros and DC’s arsenal. And now, he’s getting his own movie. An origin story to be exact.

Deadline reports that Todd Phillips (The Hangover trilogy, War Dogs), writer Scott Silver (8 Mile, The Fighter) and the great Martin Scorsese are teaming up to give us a standalone movie that will tell the Joker’s origin story. It’s going to be the first film “under a new banner that has yet to be named in which WB can expand the canon of DC properties and create unique storylines with different actors playing the iconic characters.”

So, it sounds like the plan for this film, which Phillips and Silver will co-write and the former will direct, is to tell a Joker origin story that doesn’t necessarily have to hold water in the wider DC movie universe. That means that Leto won’t be reprising his role as Mr J here (although the site notes that he is expected to return in David Ayer’s Gotham City Sirens, which is apparently still happening, and Suicide Squad 2).

Meanwhile, it will have a very different setting to the other DC movies. Well, in so far as its time period. Per Deadline, “The intention is to make a gritty and grounded hard-boiled crime film set in early-’80s Gotham City that isn’t meant to feel like a DC movie as much as one of Scorsese’s films from that era, like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull or The King Of Comedy.”

Which sounds a lot like Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s extremely divisive The Killing Joke, doesn’t it? You can just say The Killing Joke, guys.

Of course, there is the tricky fact that one of the Joker’s defining characteristics is that he doesn’t have a concrete origin story. As he says in the aforementioned graphic novel, “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice.” Which is presumably why they’re doing this under this new banner, so they can introduce it and ignore it if they want to. But while we understand the logic of opening this new strand with a character that’s so well recognised and, possibly, with a story that’s already so well-known, we hope that it leads to taking more chances on stories and characters that don’t fit the traditional template.

Phillips seems like an unusual choice for this kind of material, although he kind of took a turn away from the comedic with War Dogs (kind of), and he does have a long history with Warner Bros at this point. Possibly the most exciting thing about this announcement, aside from the fact that we could see more standalone films in this universe that might take more chances, is that Martin Scorsese is producing. His presence seems to be the least discussed element, but damn. Martin Scorsese.

Justice League is in cinemas from 17 November 2017. Get all the latest superhero movie news with every issue of SciFiNow.