The great superhero film franchise face-off between Warner Bros.-DC and Disney-Marvel (or Fox and Sony) seems to be a game of copycat sometimes. The two major film studios and their respective comic book publishing subsidiaries are in the apparent habit of taking ideas from each other and doing their own twist on them. Marvel’s “Avengers” worked, so Warner worked to develop its DC Extended Universe, building up to a “Justice League” film. Sony Pictures is working on a “Spider-Man” spinoff featuring the villainous/antiheroic Venom, a Spider-foe/ally.

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Now Warner is also looking to create a film featuring a DC bad guy. It is none other than Batman’s nemesis the Joker, and the names being considered to head the project are unbelievable.

Scorsese on Joker

It can come across as being too fantastical to be true, but indeed, Warner Bros. is in initial development for a “Joker” film. This spinoff movie, which exists outside the framework of the current DC Extended Universe, is said to be an origin story of Gotham City’s Clown Prince of Crime, and the worst enemy of Batman himself. The really eye-popping details of the recent announcement are the proposed writers, producers and directors for the movie, which include legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese.

Names dropped as being considered by Warner-DC for the film are Todd Phillips and Scott Silver as co-writers. Phillips was producer-director for 2009’s “The Hangover” while Silver wrote the 2002 hit drama movie “8 Mile” starring rapper Eminem. The latter is also pulling triple-duty for “Joker,” set to direct the film and co-producer along with Scorsese.

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His involvement will also significantly set the tone and mood for the origin story, making it less of a comic-book superhero adventure and more a hardboiled crime drama, set in the Gotham City of the 1980s. While no name has been given as to who might play the titular role, the studio has established itself as looking for a young actor.

Multiple-choice past

Creating an origin story for Batman bad guy the Joker is guaranteed to be an interesting exercise. There have been, after all, numerous takes in the DC Comics pages about how a clown-based super-villain came to be, like the “Killing Joke” graphic novel that was adapted as an animated home feature. Interpretations of the Joker’s past rage from either a failed stage comedian or a mundane crook that fell into a vat of acid, or as the eldritch personification of the endemic darkness, evil, crime, and corruption of Gotham City itself.

Past actors of who have portrayed the Joker include Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill (voice talent for animation), the late Oscar winner Heath Ledger and more recently Jared Leto in Warner Bros.’ DCEU film “Suicide Squad.” The new “Joker” movie does not yet have a release date.