Attention, The Killing Joke fans! A new report has surfaced suggesting Warner Bros.’ Joker origin movie might be taking some cues from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland‘s celebrated/controversial 1988 graphic novel series, which is considered by many the definitive Joker tale. Per The Wrap, the origin movie will portray the Clown Prince of Crime as a failed comedian in the 1980s who goes on to become a Gotham crime boss “after bombing with audiences”.
As previously reported, The Hangover and War Dogs filmmaker Todd Phillips is set to co-write and direct the film, which is intended to bring a gritty, grounded spin to the Joker mythos set in a Scorsese-esque Gotham underworld. Indeed, Martin Scorsese is said to be a producer on the project, and the Joker film reportedly will include some nods to Scorsese’s The King of Comedy. The classic film starred Robert De Niro as a deluded wannabe comedian whose ambitions lead him down a manic criminal path. Adds up.
The project is expected to take place outside the existing continuity of the DCEU as part of a new banner that will expand Warner Bros.’ DC Comics-based films. Joaquin Phoenix is reportedly in talks to take on the role of Batman’s iconic nemesis, though the actor recently insisted he didn’t know anything about the project at all. Of course, we’ve all seen Phoenix tell tall tales in interviews before (we’re looking at you I’m Still Here press tour), so do with that what you will. The film was expected to roll into production in late 2018, but the report notes that date may be pushed to accommodate rewrites. Phillips is scripting the film along with 8 Mile and The Fighter scribe Scott Silver.
Of course, it’s important to bear in mind that it’s early days yet so nothing is set in stone at this point. Is it a good idea? Well, I reckon that depends on your perspective. I’m dubious on the idea of a Joker origin movie altogether since over-explaining a villain tends to suck the life out of them, but what’s becoming increasingly clear is the sense that these guys are bringing a whacky, prestige spin to the iconic character and hell, why not? Get weird with it. We’ve seen a lot of different versions of the Joker on screen and on the page over the years, and if you’re going to take another swing, swing for the damn fences. Why not do King of Comedy in Gotham City? With names like Phoenix and Leonardo DiCaprio (who was reportedly the first choice for the role) floating around, along with Scorsese’s reported involvement, Warners obviously wants to make something ambitious, and the freedom to step outside franchise focus opens the film up to some exciting possibilities.