WB developing 80’s-set JOKER origin film with Scorsese & Phillips, sans DCEU and Leto

Big, bad news out of DC land. Deadline reports that Warner Bros. and DC Films are in the early stages of developing new JOKER origin story as their latest expansion of the ‘Batman universe’ and they’ve brought some heavy-hitters aboard including Martin Scorsese. THE HANGOVER and WAR DOGS helmer Todd Phillips is set to direct and co-write the script with THE FIGHTER screenwriter Scott Silver. Scorsese will produce with Phillips.

The film is intended to launch a yet-to-be-named new banner at Warner Bros., which will expand the universe of DC films outside the DCEU to “create new storylines with different actors playing the beloved characters”. The JOKER origin story is said to be separate from the previous film incarnations, which means Jared Leto will not take on the role for this iteration of the character. Per the report, he’s set to reprise the role in the SUICIDE SQUAD sequel and the GOTHAM CITY SIRENS spinoff, but the origin story will see a new, possibly younger actor take on the role of the iconic comic book villain. This a perfect example of the “prequel mistake”: assuming audiences want to see the tragic backstories of the characters, especially classic villains. No one wants to see Darth Vader or Hannibal Lecter as children, and no one wants the ‘multiple choice’ question of Joker’s origin answered.

And it gets worse. Per the report, “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.” Phillips and Silver have already started writing the script, but there’s no word on how this new incarnation and the new film banner will fit in with the existing DC schedule. Perhaps WB/DC should get more than one good movie (ahem, WONDER WOMAN) into establishing their interconnected DC Extended Universe before making more, even more confusing spin-off universes.

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