Is The Joker Origin Movie About To Deliberately Kill the DC Shared Universe?

Matthew Loffhagen
Warner Bros
(Photo: Warner Bros)

Well, this feels like a weird new direction to take.

Warner Bros is apparently working on a Joker origin movie, with Todd Phillips of Hangover fame directing the picture, and Martin Scorsese possibly (but not definitely) lined up to produce.

According to Deadline, who broke the news of this film, “the intention is to make an origin story that isn’t part of any other iteration”. This means a new actor in the role of The Joker, so goodbye (and good riddance) Jared Leto.

It also sounds like this new movie won’t actually be part of the existing DC Extended Universe – it won’t tie in with The Batman or Justice League, and it’ll present The Joker in a wholly new light, in a style that we’ve never seen before.

This movie will, apparently, be “a gritty and grounded hard-boiled crime film set in early-’80s Gotham City that isn’t meant to feel like a DC movie as much as one of Scorsese’s films from that era, like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull or The King Of Comedy”, again according to Deadline.

Source: Warner Bros

In other words, it sounds awfully like Warner Bros is trying to put as much distance behind this and the DCEU as possible. If anything, it almost seems as if the studio is looking to take elements from the most believable (and simultaneously creepy) Joker, played by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight.

At least, that’s the logical way of reading in between the lines here. Warner Bros loves The Dark Knight even more than the movie’s fans do.

With this new Joker movie not being tied to DCEU canon, though, it does seem as if Warner Bros might be trying out alternatives to their current strategy of slavishly following Marvel’s successful business strategy.

Marvel has made all of their movies in a single interconnected shared universe, so DC’s thus far been copying that formula – even when it means being tied to the canon of terrible films, like the aforementioned Suicide Squad.

Perhaps now, though, Warner Bros has seen what was achieved with Logan and Deadpool, when Fox set a pair of new movie outside of their existing canon, and the studio has realized what could be achieved if they weren’t so rigidly obsessed with having a single shared universe. This also helps with the fact that DC’s treatment of Jared Leto’s Joker has proven unpopular, even with Leto himself (who is mostly mad about being almost entirely cut out of Suicide Squad).

If the Joker origin movie proves a hit (which seems unlikely given that the Joker is better off as a mysterious entity with no fixed backstory), DC could potentially start slowly sidestepping away from their DCEU and into a new universe without all the baggage of Batman v Superman, grumpy Affleck, and everything else that’s been causing problems for Warner Bros over the past few years.

This movie may well be DC testing the water, to see whether it’s worth abandoning their movie universe and moving onto something different.

Batman v Superman
Source: Warner Bros

It’s a bold plan, but not one that necessarily feels like it’s being made for the right reasons. DC could build on their single proven hit film, Wonder Woman, but it seems that the Higher Ups at the company are still more obsessed with the marketability of the Joker than they are with giving director Patty Jenkins her due for making a movie in the DCEU that’s even vaguely watchable.

Again, DC looks set to learn all the wrong lessons from its failures, while ignoring the solid potential hits that are waiting in the wings if only the studio would stop clinging to the edgy, gritty, dour aesthetic that has only ever worked for them when Christopher Nolan was sat in the director’s chair.

Oh well – fingers crossed the Joker movie won’t prove to be quite as bad of an idea as it sounds, and here’s hoping that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman won’t get swept into the trash along with all the bad ideas in the DCEU if Warner Bros decides to finally wipe the slate clean.

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