The DCEU, or DC movie-verse, WB’s version of the multi-billion dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe is still in the midst of growing pains, having only scored one critical smash to go along with their usual titanic box office grosses. But now, it looks like the braintrust behind DC Films is aiming to expand beyond the canon of the films we’ve seen plus those currently in production and offer a sort of “Elseworlds” set of films.
From reports, it looks as though the first effort for a stand-alone, continuity-free feature will be a Joker origin story, set in the 80’s, and will detail his rise to becoming the “Clown Prince of Crime”. According to Variety and elsewhere, Todd Phillips, the filmmaker behind the Hangover franchise and last year’s War Dogs, is in talks to co-write (with Scott Silver) and direct. While that’s a bit of an iffy pedigree for the gritty urban drama this is being touted as, Martin Scorsese is also on-board as a producer, which is a hell of a surprising development and adds some needed gravitas – depending on how involved he’ll be in the project. Taxi Driver seems to be the thought on everyone’s mind on the showbiz beat.
Currently, within the confines of the DCEU, Jared Leto plays the Joker and is expected to reprise his role in the sequel to Suicide Squad. While the film itself has its passionate defenders (I am not one of them), the general consensus is that Leto was seen as one of the weakest links in the cast (I might also be an outlier there, it’s hard to doubt his commitment anyway). But given this will be an out of continuity picture, another actor will be lined up for the role, which opens up all kinds of possibilities in how the character will be interpreted.
Though, my pet theory since SDCC has been that Flashpoint, whenever it comes out, will be WB’s “get out of jail free card” for any portion of their current DC big screen product that isn’t in favor with fans. If this film hits before that surely universe-altering project (which still doesn’t have a director or cast beyond a few principals), then maybe this Joker will get retroactively inserted into the mainstream DCEU. Or maybe I’ve just read one too many Crises.
Regardless, if WB is opening up the possibilities for “Elseworld” takes, the sky really is the limit. Red Son, Kingdom Come, The New Frontier, and more could be coming to a theater near you.