With many of their other approaches to the DCEU increasingly proving to be costly misfires, Warner Bros announced a new approach: one which, they hope, will result in at least one good movie other than Wonder Woman. Rather than making a single shared universe for all of their heroes and villains to occupy, they will be focusing on non-canonical DC movies: stories that fall outside of the widely panned DC Extended Universe.
One of the many, many problems with this scattershot approach to filmmaking is that, for all the lip-service they pay to variety, all of them feel very conceptually similar to one another. For God’s sake, three of them are about different iterations of The Joker: a character in its third major, big screen iteration, which fill probably be rebooted in the also announced Flashpoint movie. In a lot of ways, this just seems like an incredibly public audition for Jared Leto’s replacement.
One of these proposed films seems to have caught the eye of commentators, however, largely because of the people involved in its creation. A Joker origin story — set in 1980’s Gotham City — will be produced by no less than cinematic icon Martin Scorsese: the mad genius responsible for acclaimed masterpieces like Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and The Departed. In short, they got the guy responsible for genre-defining, ultra-violent gangster movies to invisibly guide the production of a period thriller about the Clown Prince of Crime.
What’s more, sources have come forward claiming that Warner Bros is intent on leveraging Scorsese’s relationship with celebrated actor Leonardo DiCaprio to draw the A-list thespian into the film’s title role. Like Scorsese, DiCaprio would be a tremendous boon to the prospects of this film. He’s a name that means something to movie-goers: one that would calm skeptics and draw in audiences who are beginning to tire of Warner Bros’ increasingly desperate method of filmmaking.
It’s easy to see how this could be a perfect storm of a film. Scorsese is known for the kind of brazen, swaggering productions that a Joker origin would doubtless want to be — not only smart and serious, but instantly set apart from every movie it’s competing against — and DiCaprio is one of his generation’s peerless talents, who could bring the kind of visceral, iconic realism to the character that we haven’t seen since Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. In theory, it’s a perfect.
The problem is that this rose-tinted view of the film is likely far from the reality of what we will ultimately receive upon release. Scorsese is merely producing the film — not directing it — so the degree to which he would be able to influence the final product is more than a little debatable. What’s more is that he’s not even locked into that role for the film yet, merely in uncertain talks that could ultimately go either way. Even with Scorsese’s involvement, DiCaprio is a long shot for a franchise that a lot of big name talent — such as Batman actor Ben Affleck — are actively trying to leave.
Besides, this is Warner Bros we’re talking about. They have consistently proven that they have no idea what direction the current DCEU needs to take, let alone however countless many variants they hope to pursue with their Extended Extended Universe. They have maligned auteur talent, like Suicide Squad director David Ayer, in the past, and are showing no signs of slowing down their current, slipshod approach.
Although I would give just about anything to see DiCaprio tackle this character on the big screen in the future, now isn’t the time for him to wrap himself in the sinking ship of the recent DC movies. It would kill any chance he would have of taking on the Joker when Warner Bros actually figures themselves out, and keep him from doing the kind of ambitious projects with veteran filmmakers that earned him his overdue Oscar win in the first place.