Time for more whispers in regards to Warner Bros. Pictures’ Joker Origins project.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio is hoping to entice 42-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio into playing the young Joker in their out-of-continuity Elseworlds-style project. The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips is set to direct with Martin Scorsese in talks to produce the film; reportedly centering on the Joker as a boy with a permanent smile in a gritty 1980s Gotham City.
In fact, it is hoped that Scorsese’s involvement will get DiCaprio to sign on to the film. At least, that’s what sources tell THR. They are quick to point out that no deal exists for the actor and that even Scorsese’s participation is not a sure thing.
Of course, Warner Bros. always wants to court the biggest star they can find for every project. In the case of the superheroes, this goes all the way back to the first Superman film. Both DC and Warner were interested in name brand stars like Robert Redford to play the title role. A wholly inappropriate choice, to be sure, but a box office draw nonetheless. And just as Redford was in the frame for everything from Superman to Micheal Corleone in the 1970s, DiCaprio is a dream get for every big studio project. Feelers will go out to the actor’s management. Come to think of it, it’s easy to think he’s been sent offers for every major blockbuster film since Titanic was released twenty years ago.
According to THR, the hope is to make the “Batman Origins: The Joker” project a prestige picture worthy of Oscar consideration. Which, to be honest, seems like a silly aspiration. As does taking all the mystery out of the Joker as a character.
But it is still possible the entire thing will collapse. The DC Entertainment films properties have a certain flexibility about them. Remember when Justice League was a two-part film? Remember when The Flash was going to be directed by Rick Famuyiwa? Remember when The Batman was definitely going to be part of the so-called DC Extended Universe? Okay, that still might happen, though THR is still reporting that the film is being developed as a standalone entity.
Which, as always, speaks to a studio-level problem. Both the standalone, Elseworlds-style projects and the DCEU continuity-based concepts are fine ideas. Sadly, they cannot coexist in Hollywood the way the coexisted in the comics. And to attempt both while not informing talent (apparently Jared Leto was quite disappointed to find out about the Joker Origins project in the trade papers) or controlling the flow of information suggests an ongoing lack of direction and confidence in the higher levels of the studio.
As always, though, I hope Warner Bros. Pictures proves me wrong.