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Is Martin Scorsese involved in a movie about The Joker?

Consider this a fairly odd news story. In fact, it might be the oddest in some time. Yesterday, word spread throughout the web that a film about DC super villain The Joker was brewing over at Warner Brothers. Yes, the clown prince of crime is getting his own spinoff. Now, that could sound pretty cool on its own, but this is coming off of Jared Leto showing up to mostly indifference in the underwhelming Suicide Squad, all while DC and the WB figure out what to do with their superhero universe. Wait until you hear the details though, as they just might blow your mind.

Apparently, the powers that be have Martin Scorsese on board to produce this Joker tale, while Todd Phillips is co-writing a script with Scott Silver and eyeing the director’s chair. Your mind is blown, I’m sure. Scorsese involved with a comic book property? Phillips going from comedy to this? It’s all very strange. Moreover, it’s so much of a spinoff, Leto won’t be returning, with a new actor taking up the role. According to sources, it’s also going to be an 80’s set story, taking place in a gritty and hard-boiled Gotham City. Essentially, it ideally won’t feel like anything else that’s come before, feeling more like something from Scorsese’s gangster world of yore. At its core, this is an origin story though, so make of that what you will.

I’m not sure which part of this is odder, re-casting Leto, potentially having Phillips shepherd this project, or Scorsese producing. We’ll get to Marty later, but first, let us discuss Phillips. Why him? Well, maybe he and Silver pitched something so good that Warner Brothers is going to let him see his vision through. They’re in the Phillips business already, so corporate synergy could be at play. He’s a workmanlike director though, so he’ll really have to up his game in order to execute this in the way it needs to be handled. Another bungled DC outing could make this universe an outright laughingstock.

For those wondering, here is how I would rank Phillips’ work (not counting his documentaries) so far:

9. The Hangover Part II
8. The Hangover Part III
7. School for Scoundrels
6. Due Date
5. Starsky and Hutch
4. War Dogs
3. Road Trip
2. The Hangover
1. Old School

In terms of who might play The Joker, that’s anyone’s guess right now. Depending on how young they go, there are tons of options. As an origin story, DC can tinker with just about anything they want to here. For one candidate, might I suggest Will Poulter? He was very nearly Pennywise the Clown in the It remake and recently terrorized in Detroit, so he’s kind of perfect. Who knows if Poulter is on their radar or not, but in this writer’s humble opinion, he’d be the right choice. Casting might not happen for a while though, so you’ll have to sit tight.

So, why is Scorsese potentially involved with this? I have no clue, but Phillips and Scorsese have nearly collaborated before. Maybe they’re pals? Who knows, perhaps the master filmmaker has even had an interest in the genre. This way, he gets to play around while not outright diving in. If so, that could be interesting. On the other hand, look at how Christopher Nolan had a hand in Man of Steel but didn’t opt to direct. It never felt like his work. So, regardless of anything else, don’t expect this to seem like a true Scorsese outing. Just hope it doesn’t feel like a traditional Phillips one either.

We shall see what happens with this flick, but for now, it’s just a brewing idea. It’s a number of years off, and while there’s no reason to doubt that it’ll happen, other things are on the docket first. Scorsese especially has other things he’s going to be getting to first. If nothing else, it’s a curious film and something to keep an eye on. If anything happens of note, casting wise or whatever, we’ll be sure to follow up. For now, just tuck it away as a movie you might be interested in seeing if it actually gets made. Until then…

Stay tuned to see what comes of this bizarre project!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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