DC's non-DCEU movie label will kick off with the Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie and could end up being called DC Dark or DC Black, according to a new report. The idea behind starting up a DC film sub-franchise is that it will allow room for directors to come in and make one-off DC movies that aren't beholden to the continuity of the larger DC cinematic universe. Much like DC's Elseworlds imprint does for the company's comic book division, DC Dark/Black would (in theory) open the door to more experimenting with the DC movie brand and its characters.
DC technically has six Joker movies in some stage of development right now, but the Phoenix-led film about the Clown Prince of Crime is the only one that falls under the non-DCEU banner. The Hangover trilogy and War Dogs director Todd Phillips is calling the shots on the film, which is also being produced by none other than Martin Scorsese and cowritten by Oscar-nominee Scott Silver of 8 Mile and The Fighter fame. In addition to prestigious creatives, Phillips' Joker solo film will have a much lower budget than most comic book adaptations nowadays, according to the latest report on the project and other going-ons at DC.
In a sweeping update on what's happening at DC Films right now, THR reports that Phoenix and Phillips' Joker movie will launch a new label that could be branded "DC Dark", "DC Black", or something else along those lines. The "Dark" or "Black" aspect of the label could be a reference to how the Joker film is expected to be a gritty crime drama/thriller in the vein of Scorsese's own 1970s classics like Taxi Driver. Separate reports support the idea, claiming the Joker movie takes place in the '80s and draws inspiration from The Killing Joke - Alan Moore's infamously macabre comic book story about the villain's humble beginnings as a failed comedian.
"DC Dark/Black" could further indicate that the plan is for this label to cover some of the developing movies that focus on DC villains - those that didn't make their screen debut in Suicide Squad, anyway. In addition to the Joker origin movie, that could include the Lobo solo film that is currently in the works. Lobo writer Jason Fuchs has expressed a desire to capture the spirit of the intergalactic bounty hunter in comic book form, suggesting his movie will be an anarchic and possibly R-rated romp that's closer in tone to Deadpool than the rest of the DCEU. Michael Bay was reported to be circling a $200 million take on Lobo earlier this year, so it's possible the film is now being rewritten and scaled down to fit the leaner budget template that "DC Dark/Black" is going for.
Interestingly enough, DC appears to be responding to the complaints about the DCEU being "too dark" by splitting its films up into two sub-franchises. The DCEU is already on its way to a brighter and more colorful tomorrow, thanks to upcoming films like Aquaman and especially Shazam!. Meanwhile, "DC Dark/Black" can embrace a darker and more adult tone than DCEU films like Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad were able to, since its movies won't be beholden to a PG-13 rating, by the sound of it. If that's the case, then it sounds like a smart way for Warner Bros. and DC to move forward from here.
We will bring you more details on The Joker and DC's new movie label as they become available.