Last year, Warner Bros. announced a pretty bonkers project: a movie about DC’s Joker, unrelated to Jared Leto’s current portrayal of the role. The whole thing got even weirder when it was revealed that legendary director Martin Scorsese, of Taxi Driver and The Departed fame, was attached to produce. For a while, there have been rumors of Joaquin Phoenix nearing a deal for the starring role. Now, this strange mix is getting another interesting addition: Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke.
An insider recently told The Wrap that the Joker movie will see the mad villain’s origin as a failed 1980s comedian whose tough crowds basically force him into a life of crime. While there’s no news of the movie being a direct adaptation of Moore’s revered 1988 one-shot comic, this is exactly how Batman’s nemesis came to be in the book.
Then again, this also happens in Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, a 1982 film starring Robert De Niro as a mentally disturbed stand-up comedian who kidnaps Jerry Lewis. Generally speaking, nobody knows how to set up 80s crime better than Scorsese, so we at least know the movie’s art design will be on point.
While so far there’s no confirmation that Academy Award nominee Phoenix is playing Batman’s biggest foe, the upcoming Joker does include a few other eclectic choices. Todd Phillips, best known for helming the Hangover movies and co-writing Borat, is attached to direct. He’s also co-writing the screenplay with Scott Silver, whose credits include 8 Mile and The Fighter.
Batman: The Killing Joke got an adaptation not too long ago, on Warner Bros. Animation. Starring Batman: The Animated Series veterans Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, the 2016 film received a lukewarm response. Most of the criticism was focused on an extended prologue that tried to improve the treatment of Batgirl in the original comic book, ultimately making it worse.
There’s no official release date or cast for the Joker origin story yet, but Warner aims to begin production in mid-to-late 2018. However, it seems so far the dates are a little on the air, as Silver and Phillips are still retooling the screenplay.