Many comic book fans have dreamed of seeing a film adaption of their favourite comic book characters linked to an esteemed Hollywood giant. This week, for better or for worse, DC Comics fans got their wish when on August 23rd it was announced that Hollywood legend Martin Scorsese had reportedly joined the production of a standalone film based on everyone’s favourite Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker.
An award winning, Hollywood heavyweight with fifty years of experience attached to a film about the Joker?! There must be comic book fans rolling out and celebrating on the streets like VJ Day In Times Square, right?
Except they aren’t – and for numerous reasons.
Now, you may think that this is just another example of the sardonic fanboys that plague the comic book community, but this time around, these die-hard fans might actually have a point. Before the DC fanbase realised what astounding news they had just heard, four more tidbits of news had been unearthed:
- It was unknown which role Scorsese would play in the film’s production, only that he would not be directing (that role has been filled by War Dogs and The Hangover director Todd Phillips).
- The film would be seperate from the DCEU, meaning that the film would not be affiliated with the same ‘universe’ as Batman V Superman or Suicide Squad etc and Jared Leto would not be reprising his role.
- The film, in true Scorsese fashion, would be more of a gritty crime drama than a comic book film and would have a 1980’s backdrop.
- Perhaps the most shocking of all, the film would be a Joker Origin story.
‘Joker’, ‘origin’ and ‘story’. No three words can kill a comic book fanboy’s nerdgasm quicker. Once again, many readers may be wondering why this matters and you’d be surprised just how much of the Joker’s mythos may be at risk.
What sets the Joker apart from most comic book characters like him (besides his popularity) is the fact that he has no concrete origin story.
Bruce Wayne’s parents are gunned down in an alleyway, which leads to Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. Kal-el’s parents send him to Earth as his home planet of Krypton is incinerated, where he is adopted as ‘Clark Kent’ and later becomes Superman.
No matter how many alterations are made or continuities are created, these origin stories always remain the same, but never for the Joker.
In his seventy-five plus years in DC Comics, the Clown Prince of Crime has had more than nine origin stories, varying from a street thug that feigns insanity to avoid punishment (Case Study, 1996) to the tragic, would-be criminal portrayed in Alan Moore’s classic The Killing Joke (1998). Each of the stories were adapted some way in the various animated and cinematic media that the Joker appeared in, but no story has remained the same.
See where the fans are going with this? Not only do Phillips and Scorsese possibly risk a Bat-nipple level mess-up of the core elements of the Joker’s mythos, but if the film proves popular, it could end up overshadowing the comic book Joker we all know and love.
One thing’s for sure, this will be an excellent test of Scorsese’s skill.
No date has been set for the Joker film at this time.