This is something, to say the least. Tuesday saw the announcement that WB was moving forward with a Joker origin film. Not only will said film be separate from the current DCEU, but The Hangover and War Dogs director Todd Phillips will helm the project with Martin Scorsese acting as producer. The Deadline exclusive stated the picture would be a "gritty and grounded hard-boiled crime film set in early-’80s Gotham City" with another actor besides Jared Leto playing the role. By the title, you would expect our story to be about that. Nope!
The Hollywood Reporter has released an exclusive stating that Warner Bros. is planning to release a Joker/Harley Quinn standalone feature in addition to the aforementioned Phillips/Scorsese flick. The only catch being that this new film will be part of the larger DC film universe as Leto and Margot Robbie reprise their roles from Suicide Squad. THR continues the report by revealing that Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are in final negotiations to take on writing and directing duties. For those of you unfamiliar with this duo, they were the team behind 2011's Crazy, Stupid, Love and NBC's This Is Us.
There is a lot to say about this. First, it looks likes this kills any thoughts that Jared Leto is being pushed out for the time being. I was one of the few who considered Phillips' standalone Joker film to be a rebound for DC after the heated criticism of Jared's Clown Prince of Crime. Personally, I'm glad they're not abandoning their choice. The Joker had a miniscule role in his first appearance, and Leto was working off a script that was written in 6 weeks. Seeing him in a leading role with a new creative team would allow him to craft a much more captivating take on the character. As for Robbie, her portrayal of Quinn was one of the universally praised aspects of Suicide Squad. There is no surprise in her return.
What is surprising is DC/Warner's approach to their films. Having the same character across different platforms is one thing. Henry Cavill is Superman in the films, Tyler Hoechlin is Superman on the CW. Ezra Miller is the cinematic Flash while Grant Gustin plays the Scarlet Speedster on the small screen. Having two versions of the same character on film could cause some issues. In a world of cinematic universes proven (MCU) and failed (Universal's Monster-verse), an expectation for airtight continuity could confuse many. However, many more could see it a breath of fresh air. As seen with Logan, audiences may not care about a films connections with the larger world if the story is compelling.
Then again, Hugh Jackman was still playing Wolverine, therefore showing some attachment to the X-Men universe the casual moviegoer knows. There a countless variables, as you can tell. We can't truly be sure of anything until we're sitting in the theater. For all we know, these projects won't break past the development stage.
Do you think films separate from their company's shared universe will sell? Are you willing to give Jared Leto anther chance? Do you even want to see a Joker/Harley movie? Let us know. Stay frosty!