One of the truly scary things about DC’s villainous icon the Joker is the enigma of his beginnings. While there have been various comic book attempts to give him some sort of origins, most of the writers prefer to leave it a mystery. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight famously used this to create a sort of evolving story, which lent him an element of primal terror.
So what’s the most obvious way to capitalize on this most nightmarish element of the Joker’s character? To leave it forever shrouded in mystery, so that the odyssey of horror remains something forever hidden in the recesses of your darkest imaginings? Or to let the guy who directed The Hangover trilogy write a Joker origin movie? Which one do you think DC Comics is working on?
According to Deadline, the answer is the latter. Hangover director Todd Phillips is co-writing the script with 8 Mile‘s Scott Silver, and Martin Scorsese of all people is producing the thing. As pedigrees go, that’s not a bad one. And it probably won’t shock you to learn that studio wants the movie to be “gritty” and “grounded,” because nobody expected a Scorsese-produced Joker movie to be a Wes Anderson-esque flight of fancy. After Jared Leto’s unmemorable Suicide Squad performance, no huge surprise that DC is reportedly looking to cast someone new in the role. Setting aside concerns that Joker’s presence has tended to be most powerfully felt when he remains a mystery, the whole movie could be fine.
But it’s a baffling announcement after Wonder Woman became the undisputed box office victor of the summer. Wonder Woman‘s success hinged on a spirit of inspiring optimism that was a welcome shift away from DC’s latest attempts at gritty, brawling anti-heroism. It was a refreshing success, and the fact that DC’s big takeaway is that people want a movie starring a famously violent psychopath is a little baffling.