While Jared Leto’s portrayal of the Joker in Suicide Squad didn’t meet with universal acclaim from fans, it was assumed that the actor would continue playing the iconic villain in future DC movies. So the news that the studio was planning a film that would focus on the Joker’s origins with a different actor came as surprise to many–including Leto himself. A few more details about the project have now emerged.
According to The Wrap, the movie will portray the Joker as a comedian in the 1980s, who takes up a life of crime after his stand-up career fails and he bombs with audiences. As the site notes, this makes sense of the involvement of producer Martin Scorsese, who dealt with similar material in his classic 1980s movie The King of Comedy.
The Joker origin movie will be directed by Todd Phillips, who is best known for the Hangover series. While no official casting announcements have been made yet, Joaquin Phoenix is reportedly close to signing on as the Clown Prince of Crime. The film doesn’t have a release date, and although it is set to start shooting later this year, The Wrap’s sources suggest that scripts rewrites could delay the start of production.
In terms of Leto’s Joker, it is expected that he will return for Suicide Squad 2, which starts production this year. Beyond that, there have been rumors of a movie focusing purely on the Joker and Harley Quinn–but like many potential DC projects, this is far from a sure thing.
In September, Leto spoke about the fact there were several Joker projects in the works. “I’m a little confused, too,” he admitted. “There are a couple of things happening. I love the Joker. He’s a great character and really fun character to play. But it’s a big universe and when you play the Joker, there’s no ownership there. You have the honor of holding the baton for a little while and then passing it off. There are other films that are in development and I’m excited to see what comes from them.”
However, according to an earlier story in The Hollywood Reporter, Leto was “was caught off guard by the plans.” THR states that he subsequently informed his agents that he wasn’t happy about DC planning to have “multiple Jokers.”