Warner Bros. Takes Aim at the Joker

Warner Bros. Takes Aim at the Joker

Warner Bros. is amping up its courtship of the Clown Prince of Crime.

In the past few weeks, WB made headlines by conjuring up the possibility of a stand-alone Joker film. This movie would be an origin story and a crime drama set in the 1980s. But most interesting is that it’s to be set outside of the present DCEU. If that isn’t enough to whet fanboys and fangirls appetites, film legend Martin Scorsese is in talks to produce. The film would also see director Todd Phillips taking the directing reigns—Phillips is known for writing and directing all three The Hangover films and his latest film War Dogs.

Warner Bros. Takes Aim at the Joker 1
Jared Leto in Suicide Squad (2016) – images via Warner Bros. Entertainment

More recently, an online report came out of The Hollywood Reporter stating that Warner Bros. has its eyes set on Academy Award Winner Leonardo DiCaprio to become their newest version of the Harlequin of Hate. And all the while, WB has plans to film a Joker-Harley Quinn movie and Suicide Squad 2, both with Jared Leto reprising his version of the Joker.

All of this news has been confusing, exciting, and maddening. But, would you expect anything else when enlisting the talents of the Joker?

As the news came down like a cluster bomb over the Internet, the reaction was swift and mixed. But honestly, is there anything wrong with cinema housing two Jokers at the same time? Actors egos aside, isn’t it a sheer delight to be a comic book movie fan these days? A time when there is a real possibility of multiple movies starring, co-starring, or somewhat-starring the greatest comic book villain of all time. If the films and performances are done superbly, isn’t there room for not only multiple actors playing the same role, but multiple storylines?

Just look at the original source material to find the answer.

Warner Bros. Takes Aim at the Joker
The Killing Joke – images via DC Comics.

DC Comics has a successful tradition of fantastic storylines existing outside their main plot points. Here are just a few titles that top the list: The Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Batman: Year One, Batman: The Long Halloween, Superman: Red Son, Kingdom Come, and All Star Superman.

These are all terrific stories that not only expand the each comic book’s mythos but create a different physical version of characters like Batman, Superman, and the Joker. The writing of the characters may be consistent with the past or diverge from the standard, but all of the above comics have been illustrated by different artists. These artists gave readers a diverse range of character appearance. Sure, the characters mostly keep to their time honoured physical attributes and costumes, but they are all a different rendition of the original incarnation. Actors playing the Joker are doing the same. Whether it’s Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger or Jared Leto, audiences all know they are watching the Joker, but each version is a different take—and that is a good thing.

Further, should Warner Bros. embark on these stand-alone DC films, they will have taken their first bold step away from the Marvel mould. WB and their DCEU have attempted to be play catch-up to Marvel in the past number of years by following Marvel’s formula: an interconnected superhero film universe. However, with the possibility of stand-alone films, the DCEU has opened itself up to endless possibilities. No longer will they be hamstrung by their own interconnected stories. They will be free to step outside their present DCEU and build a universe of one-off films. More importantly, they’d be the first to do it.

Warner Bros. Takes Aim at the Joker 2
Jack Nicholson in Batman (1989) – images via Warner Bros. Entertainment

The template appears to be already set for Warner Bros. as well. Wonder Woman was easily the surprise hit—both critically and financially—of the 2017 summer and is a movie that, for the most part, is set outside of the present DCEU. Sure, the film is bookended with Diana in present day Paris, but having the remaining 90+ per cent of the film set during the First World War freed the creators to make the best origin movie possible without worrying too much about continuity. The main concern became staying true to the character—and look how that turned out.

So, as the Internet mulls over the pros and cons of a Joker stand-alone movie, one thing is for certain; with names like Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio bantered about, the superhero film genre has become more and more a home for A-list talent, and Warner Bros. is creating a plethora of story opportunities for this talent to reside.

DC Fans Divided On Proposed Films Based On The Joker

DC Fans Divided On Proposed Films Based On The Joker

Warner Bros. is currently planning two individual movies based on the Joker, and some fans have voiced their concern regarding the complications that may arise from two different movies based on the same character.

The first movie will be based on Jared Leto’s Joker from the 2016 Suicide Squad film. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the executive producers of the NBC hit show This is Us, are in talks to lead the proposed project featuring Suicide Squad’s Joker and Harley Quinn.

Additionally, there is a second proposed untitled movie featuring the Joker in the works being spearheaded by Todd Philips, the director behind the hit comedy The Hangover.

The Philips’ directed movie will focus on Joker’s backstory, which in the long and rich history of the DC universe has never really been explored. The other main difference between this proposed film and the aforementioned Suicide Squad venture will be that the Phillips’ directed film will star another actor instead of Jared Leto.

Todd Philips take on the Joker film—if greenlit—would be the first film under a new proposed DC banner. The new banner will encompass a series of films that aims to extend the canon. The new banner also aims to deliver unique and sometimes unusual narratives to some of the beloved superheroes within the massive DC roster.

This bold new direction for DC is a visible sign of the company trying to further distinguish themselves from Marvel—who, after being bought by Disney, has really flourished and taken both the silver screen and the small screen by storm.

Regardless of what fans think, DC trying new things with their properties is a bold move, but with the recent success of movies such as Wonder Woman, it’s a road worth traveling.

DC Comics and its Newest Rebirth

DC Comics and its Newest Rebirth

DC Comics has recreated  itself once more – a rebirth, as the company calls it. Almost five years after The New 52, a relaunching of fifty-two longstanding DC comic titles, DC has once again shuffled their deck. Rebirth is a blending of The New 52 with older storylines and character versions. In short, it’s a way to bridge the old and the new, with titles coming to your local comic book store twice monthly and selling for $2.99. Unfortunately, the price will be higher for those of us living in Canada, due to our suffering loonie.  Nevertheless , DC Comics has once again sent shock waves throughout the comic book world.

So the big question is – why did they do it?
DC Comics and its Newest Rebirth 2
Before starting the speculation, let’s see what we’re getting straight from   the horses’ mouths. In late March of 2016 at WonderCon, the brain trust at DC held a panel to discuss what Rebirth is and why they did it. Dan Didio, co-publisher of DC Entertainment, admitted that they had lost their way with The New 52 , andHe stated that the whole purpose of Rebirth is to show a recommitment to the fan base. . Thus, the change in course. During the same talk, Geoff Johns, Chief Creative Officer at DC Entertainment, stated that, “Rebirth is not a reboot.” He went on to clarify that The New 52 was only a chapter in the ongoing DC saga, which began in 1938 with Action Comics #1.  According to Johns, the next chapter in the DC Universe is Rebirth.

So, is this genuine sentiment or damage control?

DC Comics and its Newest Rebirth 3Only time will tell. It sounds like there was a definite disconnect growing between fans and what was going on in The New 52. Whether that led to significant drops in sales for DC Comics is known only to the DC top brass . Now, DC has given fans a sort of apology in the official  reasons for the launch of Rebirth, but will it be enough the right the DC ship?

We are presently finding out.

Over the past couple of months, Rebirth has been unleashed to comic book fans.  The first title, DC Universe Rebirth, was an eighty-page resurgence written by the CCO himself, Johns. The story brings back an old face, Wally West, as we follow his fluctuating in and out of the speed force, trying to make sense of things, having been away from DC since the onset of The New 52. The comic is a reconnection, not only for West, but for the readership. A way to reopen plots with characters and storylines set aside for The New 52, and in so doing make everything right again – or as right as the writers at DC can make it.

DC Comics and its Newest Rebirth 4After the release of DC Universe Rebirth, a number of other titles hit comic stands, starting with one featuring DC’s most popular comic book character. Batman Rebirth #1 sees s Bruce pitted against an old foe –Calendar Man. Bringing in a B list villain from Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery is a good move by DC here. Fans need to be eased into what Rebirth is all about, not  side tracked with the giddiness of seeing the Joker or the Riddler in the first issue. That will undoubtedly come later. For now, fans can settle in and get acquainted with Rebirth’s Batman and his new crime fighting partner.

A number of other staple DC superheroes  had their own issues come out alongside the release of Batman Rebirth. Superman Rebirth #1 continues h The New 52’s Final Days of Superman storyline about the Last Son of Krypton’s eventual death. Yet, in an interesting twist, the Superman who died at the hands of Doomsday back in 1992 has returned to this DC universe and essentially taken the place of The New 52’s Man of Steel.  Rebirth’s first week of comics was rounded out with an emerald theme with Green Lanterns Rebirth #1 and Green Arrow #1. In weeks to follow, perennial DC stars like Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Aquaman  will have their own one-shot Rebirth issues, to finish kicking off the comic series.

All in all, Rebirth might not be a complete reboot for DC Comics, but it’s definitely a corrective measure meant to dramatically change r the  course DC Comics will be taking, as admitted by DC’s Grand Poobah’s themselves at WonderCon.
DC Comics and its Newest Rebirth 1
What does this mean for fans?

If DC Comics brass is sincere, then, Rebirth can be seen as a renewal of vows, of sorts. DC saw there was a problem, and instead of letting that issue fester until it was too late, they took the initiative. They were humble enough to let fans know they had lost their way and are doing whatever they can to get back on track. Will they succeed? Only time will tell. But uniting elements from both The New 52 and the past is  smart . The New 52 brought many exceptional storylines to DC fans, from Scott Snyder’s Batman: Court of Owls to Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman. There was no need to throw the baby out with the Bat-water . Rebirth is a bold move – one that will hopefully  have an immediate payoff for DC Comics fans.

 

Cast for Suicide Squad Movie Announced

Cast for Suicide Squad Movie Announced

It looks like DC fans aren’t going to have to wait for a star studded answer to The Avengers movies. The cast of the upcoming Suicide Squad film has been released and it stars plenty of big name actors.

The cast includes oscar winner Jared Leto, as the Joker; two time oscar nominee, Will Smith, as Deadshot; Tom Hardy, who played Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, as Rick Flag; Margot Robbie, from The Wolf of Wall Street, as Harley Quinn; Jai Courtney, from Divergent, as Boomerang; and Cara Delevingne, from Anna Karenina and the upcoming Pan, as Enchantress.

The movie will also be the first return of the Joker in a feature film since Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight.

The film will be directed by David Ayer who has directed films including Fury, End of Watch and Street Kings. The film will be shot right here in Toronto and is currently in pre-production. If anyone involved in the film is still looking for shooting locations, we have a beautiful office here at CGM you should really check out.

For those unfamiliar with the Suicide Squad, DC released an animated movie called Batman: Assault on Arkham earlier this year that is focused on the villainous group. The live-action Suicide Squad movie is set to be released on August 5, 2016.