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Top 6 Reasons a Joker Origin Movie Won’t Work

Recently it was reported that a Joker origin movie was in development over at Warner Bros. and DC. The film will reportedly be produced by Martin Scorsese and directed by Todd Phillips and will not be connected to the DCEU. Instead it will take place in the 80s and be akin to Scorsese films such as Taxi Driver. While the creative team is impressive, and the idea of standalone DC movies is an interesting one, this is the worst possible film to start this new label with. There are many more interesting ideas out there for a standalone film and this reeks of desperation and trying to do anything with one of their most popular characters. Here we will discuss why a Joker origin movie is a bad idea.

6. Audience Confusion

The idea of this being a standalone film with a different actor playing the Joker while Jared Leto continues playing the character in the DCEU films is going to cause all sorts of confusion. Audiences will think that maybe this film is a prequel to Suicide Squad and wonder why a different actor is playing Joker. If they are serious about this new type of DC film it needs to be something completely different that will not cause people to wonder if it is connected to the other films or not.

5. Too Many Joker Films

The Joker origin movie is just one of four films in development featuring him. The other three are DCEU movies and will feature Jared Leto, but still this feels like way too many films with Joker. Also while this one is separate from the others it also feels like this is the one that could be cancelled before it is filmed. It’s not part of the DCEU so it has nothing to tie into the bigger universe, and no one is calling for this movie to exist. It just feels unnecessary and could be the one that goes away if WB and DC decide to cut back.

4. Desperation

Despite the success WB and DC found with Wonder Woman it feels like this is a move out of desperation. While they have hit up on an idea of DC films that are not part of the DCEU but starting with a Joker film seems to say that they are worried about audiences going for the idea and using Joker because of his popularity. If anything they should do something really different or focus on a character who has not been depicted so much. There are so many comic book movies now that there need to be more unique films, not just a new take on a character we have seen three versions of in film already.

3. Todd Phillips

When the Joker origin movie was first reported it was also stated that Todd Phillips would be directing with Martin Scorsese producing. While some saw this as a reason for there to be hope for the film it did not instil me with much confidence. While having Scorsese involved is a big deal and gives a little bit of hope, it is Todd Phillips that has me concerned. I have never been a big fan of his and there are many other directors who I would rather have involved if a Joker origin movie was going to be made. In my opinion he got real lucky with The Hangover and now he gets held in higher esteem then he should be. 

Looking over Rotten Tomatoes Hangover is his highest rated film at 79%, but then he has Starsky and Hutch at 64% and Old School at 60% and then everything else is below 60% making them rotten. I know Rotten Tomatoes isn’t the only way to measure films and is not even the best way but it just shows to me that he got extremely lucky on one film and now everyone sees him as a really good director despite a career of lacklustre films. Having him at the helm of this film is not encouraging and in fact is another warning sign.

2. Joker is Not a Main Character

The Joker has never really been the main character of a story before and for good reason. A protagonist in a story needs to be changed somehow. But Joker never changes, he is just the Joker and he never truly changes. Yes this would be an origin movie showing how he came to be, but if they make him someone who is changed by experience they are altering a fundamental part of his character. Even when they gave him an origin in Batman (1989) his actual personality did not really change. All becoming Joker did was give him a flamboyant personality to go with his already psychopathic behaviour. Seeing Joker as someone who was changed into that person will fundamentally change who he is.

1. Joker Does Not Need an Origin

While Joker was given an origin story in Batman (1989), I prefer my Joker without a set origin story. The best version of this in the films was The Dark Knight, where Joker tells multiple versions of his origin in a wonderful nod to Batman: The Killing Joke where he says he doesn’t know his true origin and remembers it differently on different days. Part of what makes Joker such a fascinating villain is we do not know who he really is.  He is the Joker, a harbinger of chaos who comes in like a storm and cuts a swath through Gotham. To give him an origin is to humanise him and take away that mystic quality that makes him the clown prince of crime.

The Joker is one of the most, if not the most, popular villains in any media. It is understandable why WB and DC want to utilise such an asset but this is not the why to do it. There is no reason at all for this film to exist and all it does is cheapen such an iconic character. Hopefully the plug can be pulled on this film before it gets too far along into development and it will never see the light of day.

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About the author

Kevin Harkins