Last week, Warner Bros. announced they were working on a Joker origin story outside of the DC extended universe with Todd Phillips, director of The Hangover, and, perhaps most surprisingly, Martin Scorsese as producer.
Today, The Hollywood Reporter has new information that could help explain why Scorsese, the legendary Oscar-winning actor/director who has traditionally shied away from large blockbuster movies could be joining the world of the comic book superhero franchise. THR reports that sources claim Warner Bros. will use Scorsese as leverage to lure Leonardo DiCaprio into the project to play the Joker himself.
DiCaprio has not been made an offer yet, and even Scorsese’s deal is yet to be finalized. Even if the news is merely gossip, it does reveal that the studio intends on elevating its superhero fare by attempting to create higher quality, awards worthy films and are willing to go after big names to do so.
And the plan isn’t all that bad. DiCaprio is very selective about the movie roles he accepts, but he has worked extensively with Scorsese to make consistently excellent films. The two have collaborated on The Aviator, Gangs of New York, The Departed, Shutter Island and The Wolf of Wall Street.
According to THR’s sources, the studio wants either “DiCaprio or another A-lister to play the [Joker] as a gritty crime boss in a Scorsese-esque Gotham underworld.”
Whether with DiCaprio or not, this new Joker origin story would exist outside of the DC extended universe that includes the duds Suicide Squad and Batman v. Superman as well as the much more successful Wonder Woman. This explains why Jared Leto is not being considered for the role, although he is still on board to appear in the Suicide Squad sequel and a Harley Quinn/Joker love story origin story movie with Margot Robbie.
The THR report also included an interesting nugget regarding the ongoing confusion over the status of Ben Affleck as Batman. Back in February, Affleck himself reportedly wanted out of the franchise, and about a month ago rumors began swirling that he had been dropped as the DC Universe’s caped crusader—hell, even Affleck's brother Casey hinted that Ben was done with the whole thing—but studio execs have time and time again publicly disputed those claims. According to this recent THR report, though, Matt Reeves, the director of War for the Planet of the Apes, is currently working on a Batman stand alone film that will not star Ben Affleck, much like how a new Joker origin story would not star Jared Leto. In any case, both the Joker film and this Batman movie would exist outside of DC’s extended universe.