Warner Bros. is eyeing Leonardo DiCaprio to take on the role of the Joker in their planned origin movie, and they’re hoping that producer Martin Scorsese can be the bait that lures him in. Many were surprised when the legendary Scorsese was named as a producer on the Joker project, which is expected to launch a new banner separate from the studio’s DCEU. Reportedly, Warner Bros. wants to draw in prestigious filmmakers and big-name actors in hopes of re-discovering the magic they found when Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale made their critically-respected and highly profitable trio of Batman movies.
The planned Joker origin movie would reportedly be helmed by Hangover director Todd Phillips (decide for yourself if you consider him to be a “prestigious” filmmaker) and would be a “gritty, realistic” crime drama set in the underworld of Gotham. According to some rumors, the story would go all the way back to the Joker’s childhood and show how bullying helped shape his damaged psyche. Suicide Squad Joker Jared Leto is currently expected to reprise the role in Suicide Squad 2 and a standalone Joker/Harley Quinn movie but it does not appear Warner Bros. plans to have him show up in the origin film.
According to THR, Warner Bros. is hoping for big things from their Joker origin movie and they want an A-lister attached to the project, with DiCaprio at the top of their list. Reportedly, the 74-year-old Martin Scorsese is being pursued to produce primarily because of his close connection to DiCaprio. Scorsese and DiCaprio have made five films together, including two (The Aviator and The Wolf of Wall Street) for which DiCaprio earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination, so presumably DiCaprio would want to jump aboard the Joker film to once again collaborate with his mentor. However, THR says Scorsese’s deal with Warner Bros. is not even done yet and chances of DiCaprio joining the project are “slim to none.”
What does this news mean for Leto’s future as the Joker? THR reports that Leto was caught off-guard by the studio’s plans to make a Joker origin film without him, and he’s been complaining to his agents about it. Leto was criticized in many quarters for his flashy, weird “gangsta” Suicide Squad Joker, and recently Leto has been actively fighting back against reports of his bizarre method-actor behavior on-set.
All this Joker-related news just contributes to general confusion about the future of the DC franchise at Warner Bros. Recently, director Matt Reeves made waves when his comments seemed to indicate that his Batman standalone film would not be part of the DCEU, and was forced to later clarify that indeed The Batman will be part of the central universe and won’t be shuffled off to the studio’s planned alternate banner where the Joker origin movie is expected to live. And then there’s Ben Affleck, who either will or won’t be returning as Batman depending on whose reports you believe. Meanwhile, the rest of the DCEU chugs along with Justice League getting ready to release later this year (after many reshoots) and Aquaman in the middle of production.
As for the Joker origin movie, considering the iconic nature of the Joker character and the emotions people still have about Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight, there’s bound to be a lot of heated argument about who should/should not tackle the role in any planned origin film. The idea of a dark, realistic movie about a traditional gangster-like Joker prowling around Gotham with DiCaprio in the lead role and Scorsese providing creative guidance from the producer’s chair might appeal to some, but there will no doubt be many other fans who think this is far from a good idea.
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