The Joker madness continues. The latest development came on Friday just before everyone in the US took off for a long weekend, which is less about burying the lede and more about there being so much crazy DC Films news that it just sprays everywhere like a loose water hose. This latest nugget of batsh*ttery posits that Warner Brothers wants Leonardo DiCaprio to play the Joker in that spin-off origin story no one wants or asked for. I believe two things to be true: 1) Warner Brothers would love for DiCaprio to play the Joker, and 2) DiCaprio will never play the Joker.
Why would he? DiCaprio is one of the few actors who has avoided the franchise machine. He doesn’t need it, and more importantly, he doesn’t appear to want it. He might be tempted to out-Jack Nicholson Jack Nicholson, but DiCaprio isn’t stupid—he’s certainly savvy enough to see this movie for the risk it is. Besides, he’s got that da Vinci project brewing, and at some point HE HAS TO MAKE THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY. If DiCaprio and Scorsese are going to team up again, it must be for that movie (otherwise let the rights go so someone else can make it because I’m getting tired of waiting for an HH Holmes movie).
Anyway, there’s nothing in a Joker movie for DiCaprio—or Scorsese, for that matter, whose involvement I continue to highly doubt. This seems more like establishing this Joker origin story as a prestigious bit of genre fare, like the Dark Knight trilogy. By throwing out names like Scorsese and DiCaprio, Warners is setting the tone for the project, or, at least what they hope the tone will be.
And I wonder what it might end up costing Warners. It’s one thing to divide TV and film universes, as they’ve done with the Flash (Grant Gustin/TV, Ezra Miller/film), but having two actors play the same character on film at the same time? Apparently Jared Leto is pissed, and I don’t blame him. He didn’t sign on to play A Joker, he signed on to play THE Joker. I do understand why he’d be annoyed by this dual-Joker development, and I wonder if that might put some actors off taking the role. Leto’s been around for a long time. He has a lot of connections, and Warners’ decision to run competing Jokers could have an unintended ripple effect. WME is apparently using this upset to court Leto—if CAA loses a high-profile client over this, it could affect how they deal with Warners going forward.
But wait there’s more! At the end of the report is yet another mention that the Matt Reeves-directed standalone Batman movie will not be connecting to the Justice League movies, and will, in fact, be part of the spin-off universe. It also once again quotes “sources” that Ben Affleck won’t play Batman in this movie, the one he was once writing and directing. I’m of the mind that Affleck is done and his tenure will officially end after Justice League comes out in November, but Warners, for the record, continues to insist he’s Batman. They also think there’s a chance Leonardo DiCaprio will play the Joker. I’m not sure they live on Earth anymore.
Warners is throwing a lot of crazy spaghetti at the wall, hoping something sticks, with little regard to how these decisions might affect relationships with talent and the people who manage them. The thing is, I actually LIKE this idea they have to make a series of unconnected movies where directors are invited to put their own stamp on the material without worrying how it connects to a larger universe. It’s just that they’re insisting on still doing the Marvel-style team-up movies, too, and I wish they weren’t.
At this point, I’d rather see those interesting individual movies than a team up. Certainly, if it makes sense for characters to cross over, let them (like Thor and Hulk crossing over in Thor: Ragnarok). And if you have a few characters people like, and someone comes in with a strong vision for how to join them up, cool. But if that doesn’t happen for a while, don’t force it. Forcing it doesn’t lead to anything good (see also: Superhero Face Punch). The success of the Dark Knight trilogy—and Wonder Woman—is the result of an individual director’s singular vision, with no need to continue a bigger story. I just don’t understand why Warner Brothers refuses to learn the right lessons from their own successes.