Backed by a stellar production team led by Martin Scorsese, one of the most beloved comic book villains is soon to be reincarnated once more: the iconic Joker.
Few comic book movie villains are as memorable as the beloved Joker. He’s had four super high profile portrayals in film in the past five decades – namely Cesar Romero (1966), Jack Nicholson (1989), Heath Ledger (2008), and Jared Leto (2016) – two of which were undoubtedly downright iconic! And, unlike many comic book bad guys, he’s a character with (for lack of a better word) character. A knowable personality whose motivations stem from far beyond “world domination” – in fact from quite the opposite – his personality has been explored on screen many times over. We know the Joker more so than any other bad guy in recent times.
Warner Bros. and DC are currently in the early pre-production phase of another Batman Universe spinoff, this one telling the backstory of the signature villain The Joker. The production studio has already nominated director Todd Phillips (The Hangover Trilogy, War Dogs), who’s co-writing the script with screenwriter Scott Silver (8 Mile, The Fighter). Phillips will direct the movie and Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed) is locked in to produce the film alongside Phillips. This is going to be the first film in which Warner Bros. will be able to create unique storylines with different actors playing characters of the DC Universe.
In the past The Joker has most memorably been part of two Batman movies, performed by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger, and more recently by Jared Leto in the first Suicide Squad film. Although Leto is set to reprise his role as The Joker in the Suicide Squad sequel as well as the Harley Quinn “criminal love story” spinoff, this new film will launch the character with a completely new and as-yet unannounced actor. Which leads us to ask, just who is it likely to be?
The intention behind the setting of the film is
to make a gritty and grounded crime fiction film set in an early 80’s Gotham City – more akin to one of Scorsese’s films from that era like Taxi Driver or Raging Bull.
A villain has never been so gleefully watchable as Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman: Nicholson’s take, under a pile of facepaint and a green toupee, was legendary. His performance was so well received and well remembered that when Heath Ledger was cast for the role 17 years later, a lot of people wondered if he would live up to the previous hype. But as we all know, by then Ledger had won an Oscar for his work in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. In an unhinged turn of events, no doubt amplified by Ledger’s untimely passing during the production of the film, his enactment of the Joker undoubtedly eclipsed nearly every other performance in a comic book movie before or since. By the time Leto came around for Suicide Squad he understandably barely stood chance.
Moreover, trying to out-do, or at least live up to, a pair of legendary performances seems ill-advised when there are dozens of other characters that have previously gotten little to no screen-time. Also, getting together a team that includes Martin Scorsese and then asking them to try and redo a character that’s already been done so well doesn’t really seem like the best use of anyone’s time.
It is kind of easy to see why Warner Bros. and DC want to do this. A well-known character and a strong production team gets an automatic green light to go ahead. As we know, Hollywood does tend to get stuck on its sure-fire hits, pumping out the same thing over and over again. In the words of the Joker himself, this town needs an enema.
In all honesty though, a Joker Origins film is absolutely flipping exciting! My guess would be for Leonardo DiCaprio to take the role of the the Joker seeing as Scorsese likes having DiCaprio turn something already amazing into something magically unflustered. But then again, the role may be given to someone young and promising since this is an Origins film about the life of a much more youthful Joker. Who knows what the future (or past in this case) holds for the Clown Prince.
Leave us a comment below and let us know who you think the next Joker will be!