Why so serious? The Joker may be getting his own movie, that’s why.
Deadline and Variety are reporting that “The Hangover” director Todd Phillips is negotiating with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment to direct and co-write a movie based on the origins of the classic Batman villain.
Martin Scorsese is also rumored to be involved with the still-untitled film that will reportedly be set in the ’80s.
Where does this leave the current Joker, Jared Leto?
Deadline reports that while Leto is set to reprise his role as the Joker in the eventual sequel to “Suicide Squad” as well as the David Ayer-directed, Harley Quinn/Margot Robbie starring “Gotham City Sirens,” the Joker in this new origin movie will probably be played by a different actor.
But can the Joker really carry his own movie? You can’t blame the folks at WB/DC for thinking so. Look at what the character has given them in the world of entertainment over decades.
Cesar Romero turned the Joker into a household name going up against Adam West’s campy Batman of the ’60s. Jack Nicholson put on a fake smile and wowed audiences while battling Michael Keaton’s Dark Knight in what is still one of the definitive superhero movies of all-time, 1989’s “Batman.” “Star Wars” star Mark Hamill voiced the Joker on the acclaimed “Batman: The Animated Series.” Heath Ledger’s unforgettable performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight” won him an Academy Award posthumously.
The Joker has always been a role with pop culture sizzle to it. No matter the decade. No matter the actor.
It looks like the lessons of “Wonder Woman’s” success are guiding WB/DC as it continues to try to grow its comic-book-inspired cinematic universe.
“Wonder Woman,” while having a slight “Justice League” connection, primarily was a film that took place in the past, during World War I. It never had the “we’re trying to rush toward the ‘Justice League’ ” feel that “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad” had.
A Joker film that isn’t a part of their “Justice League” plans won’t be weighed down by the continuity of those connected DC movie universes.
That doesn’t mean everyone thinks this is a great idea. The reaction on social media has been mixed at best. Many fans prefer the Joker’s origins to remain a mystery.
I'd probably skip a Joker origin movie because that's one character whose origin I don't want to know. He works better that way.
— Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey) August 23, 2017
But remember the pre-social media rage that accompanied Keaton’s casting as Batman in the ’80s? And who can forget the fanboy gripes because Ledger’s Joker had a painted face and not a permanently bleached one? If you really think WB/DC will alter its seemingly bold and risky Joker movie plans because of a little Twitter rage, I’ve got a cave under Wayne Manor I can sell you.
This potential Joker movie could be the type of move that finally begins to separate WB/DC from Marvel Studios, which, with almost a decade head start, is the undisputed king of superhero movies. “Wonder Woman” proved that DC movies can (finally, post-Christopher Nolan) be just as good as something Marvel Studios produces. And Marvel Studios probably isn’t planning on making a movie about any of its villains anytime soon. If there’s been one gripe with Marvel Studios, it’s that, with the exception of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and the pending arrival of Josh Brolin’s Thanos in 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” its villains are okay, but nothing special. Rarely stealing the show.
Batman’s rogues gallery takes command of the screen, and that’s probably why WB/DC feels it can take a chance on a Joker movie. That doesn’t guarantee it will work. We’ve seen DC enrage (“Batman v Superman”) and at times disappoint (“Green Lantern”) on film more than make everyone happy of late, as it has been trying to be just like Marvel Studios and rushing toward a connected movie universe. It’s time for DC to roll the dice and try something we haven’t seen before. The Joker is a card worth pulling out of the deck.