Here's why a Joker movie could work - even without Jared Leto

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Suicide Squad - Comic-Con First Look

Why so serious? The Joker may be getting his own movie, that's why.

Deadline and Variety are reporting that The Hangover director Todd Phillips is negotiating with Warner Bros and DC Entertainment to direct and co-write a movie based on the origins of the classic Batman villain.

Martin Scorsese is also rumoured to be involved with the still-untitled film that will reportedly be set in the '80s.

Jared Leto as The Joker in Suicide Squad - he was loved and reviled in the role in equal measure.

Jared Leto as The Joker in Suicide Squad - he was loved and reviled in the role in equal measure.

Where does this leave the current Joker, Jared Leto?

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Deadline reports that while Leto is set to reprise his role as the Joker in the eventual sequel to Suicide Squad as well as the David Ayer-directed, Harley Quinn/Margot Robbie starring Gotham City Sirens, the Joker in this new origin movie will probably be played by a different actor.

The first appearance of the Joker in the DC Batman comics.

The first appearance of the Joker in the DC Batman comics.

But can the Joker really carry his own movie? You can't blame the folks at WB/DC for thinking so. Look at what the character has given them in the world of entertainment over decades.

Cesar Romero turned the Joker into a household name going up against Adam West's campy Batman of the 60s. Jack Nicholson put on a fake smile and wowed audiences while battling Michael Keaton's Dark Knight in what is still one of the definitive superhero movies of all-time, 1989's Batman. Star Wars star Mark Hamill voiced the Joker on the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series. Heath Ledger's unforgettable performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight won him an Academy Award posthumously.

The Joker has always been a role with pop culture sizzle to it. No matter the decade. No matter the actor.

The Joker in DC comics today.

The Joker in DC comics today.

It looks like the lessons of Wonder Woman's success are guiding WB/DC as it continues to try to grow its comic-book-inspired cinematic universe.

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Wonder Woman, while having a slight Justice League connection, primarily was a film that took place in the past, during World War I. It never had the "we're trying to rush toward the Justice League " feel that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad had.

A Joker film that isn't a part of their Justice League plans won't be weighed down by the continuity of those connected DC movie universes.

Heath Ledger won and Oscar for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight.

Heath Ledger won and Oscar for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight.

That doesn't mean everyone thinks this is a great idea. The reaction on social media has been mixed at best. Many fans prefer the Joker's origins to remain a mystery.

But remember the pre-social media rage that accompanied Keaton's casting as Batman in the 80s? And who can forget the fanboy gripes because Ledger's Joker had a painted face and not a permanently bleached one? If you really think WB/DC will alter its seemingly bold and risky Joker movie plans because of a little Twitter rage, I've got a cave under Wayne Manor I can sell you.

This potential Joker movie could be the type of move that finally begins to separate WB/DC from Marvel Studios, which, with almost a decade head start, is the undisputed king of superhero movies. Wonder Woman proved that DC movies can (finally, post-Christopher Nolan) be just as good as something Marvel Studios produces.

Cesar Romero played the Joker in the 60s Batman TV show.

Cesar Romero played the Joker in the 60s Batman TV show.

And Marvel Studios probably isn't planning on making a movie about any of its villains anytime soon. If there's been one gripe with Marvel Studios, it's that, with the exception of Tom Hiddleston's Loki and the pending arrival of Josh Brolin's Thanos in 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, its villains are OK, but nothing special. Rarely stealing the show.

Batman's rogues gallery takes command of the screen, and that's probably why WB/DC feels it can take a chance on a Joker movie. That doesn't guarantee it will work. We've seen DC enrage (Batman v Superman) and at times disappoint (Green Lantern) on film more than make everyone happy of late, as it has been trying to be just like Marvel Studios and rushing toward a connected movie universe.

It's time for DC to roll the dice and try something we haven't seen before. The Joker is a card worth pulling out of the deck.

Jack Nicholson's Joker in the 90s Tim Burton version had vengeance on the mind.

Jack Nicholson's Joker in the 90s Tim Burton version had vengeance on the mind.

 

 

 - The Washington Post

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