Martin Scorsese, Todd Phillips heading up Joker origin story movie

As if you haven’t already got this enough at several parties, Warner Bros. is going to tell us how some asshole got all his tattoos and piercings. According to Deadline, the studio has decided to stretch their tissue-thin superhero offerings even thinner with a standalone film telling the Joker’s origin story. And they’ve got a fairly loaded bench ready to take on this project.

The yet-untitled film is set to be co-written and directed by Todd Phillips, the darkly comic (and very uneven) filmmaker whose writing-directing efforts have included Old School, the latter two Hangover films, Starsky & Hutch, Due Date, and the immediately forgotten School for Scoundrels. He’ll be co-writing with Scott Silver, whose Oscar-nominated screenplay on The Fighter and script for 8 Mile have given him experience with Batmen and pallid guys who think extreme hair dyes look tough. Martin Scorsese is producing, and it’s said that the film is looking to emulate his earlier efforts, setting this Joker story in an early ’80s Gotham City that feels as grimy as Taxi Driver—from before the mayor gave all the supervillains bus tickets and sent them to the West Coast.

Jared Leto, though, will not be reprising the role here. While he’ll continue to play the role in future Warner sequels like the Suicide Squad sequel and its Harley Quinn spinoff, the Joker origin movie will reportedly feature a different, certainly younger actor. So if the film does actually delve into the Joker’s tattoos, it’s got a compelling argument for his getting them: given Leto’s current age, this Joker should be, like, 12.

  • adam3w

    *heavy sigh* Look, the Joker is literally the last character that needs an origin story. I would argue that one of the best choices made with the Dark Knight version was to have him make up stories about his scars on the spot, underscoring the idea that the Joker as a person is irrelevant, because the Joker as a larger-than-life icon is all that matters. This echoes multiple instances in the comics in which he is an unreliable narrator about his own past—even in The Killing Joke, the most in-depth account provided of his “real” background, he refers to his memories as “multiple choice.”

    *heavier sigh* And the choices for writer/director and co-writer make me think we’ll be getting a superficially dark movie with the type of humor that will undermine rather than enhance the character. I’m also pessimistic about whatever Scorsese thinks he has to offer on portraying mental illness… I’m expecting less Taxi Driver and more Shutter Island.

    *heaviest sigh* I know I’m just pissing in the wind here. Big DC character name + origin story + prestigious producer = automatic greenlight & exec high-fives. But come ooooonnnn… It’s getting harder and harder to be both a comic book nerd and a film geek at the same time.

    • adam3w

      I realize I’m just doing that fanboy thing that I really hate: complaining about an early concept before giving it a shot at being executed well. Everyone predicted a Tim Burton-helmed Batman with Micheal Keaton in the lead could never work. No one had faith in Heath Ledger’s Joker. But I’d love it if this thing died in pre-production.

    • HalSolo

      For whatever it’s worth, I’m pretty sure if Justice League makes less than $1 Billion the whole DC cinematic universe may implode in a theatrical black hole and we’ll just get awesome elseworlds style films forever and ever and I may finally get my George Miller LOBO film…

      Actually, if not for the necessity of establishing a Marvel style universe, I’m really curious what the end of snyder’s MOS/BVS trilogy would have been. Probably Atlas Shrugged with a literal Superman, but that would’ve been SOMETHING.

      Now I’m literally hoping for a remake of “Joker’s Favor” by way of Cape Fear.

      • adam3w

        A Lobo movie is long overdue. Especially now—he was a send-up of 90s “gritty” comics, and I think grit-fatigued audiences would appreciate DC making fun of themselves. I know I would.

        George Miller would absolutely nail it; Robert Rodriguez would be a great alternate.

        • HalSolo

          Rodriguez had his chance with dual Machete films. But I’ll accept a Danny Trejo casting of Lobo with gusto.

          • adam3w

            Danny Trejo definitely has the right vibe, but that dude is 5’6”, and is getting a little long in the tooth. Jason Momoa seems like an obvious (and sexier) choice. Too bad he’s already playing another DC character.

          • HalSolo

            I know, right?!?

  • HalSolo

    If you ask me, Zack Galifinakas’ portrayal of LEGO Joker already created enough cinematic overlap with Hangover for any Todd Philips interpretation to be null and void…

    Unless we go meta and a de-aged Travis Bickle BECOMES Joker in the most literal interpretation of this press release.