Volume 6, Issue 34!
“What’s in a Cinematic Universe Anyways?”
Warner Bros has been making quite the headlines lately, with the announcement of a solo Joker movie (produced by Martin Scorsese no less), ANOTHER Joker movie set in the DCEU featuring Jared Leto and Margot Robie, and major updates on the upcoming Matt Reeves directed Batman movie: namely, that it won’t be part of the DCEU film universe, only to then be announced that it IS part of the DCEU universe, but won’t feature other characters from the DC movies.
Yeah, it’s been a weird week. And not just because the Joker solo movie is apparently going to be an origin story, which any Batman fan would know is a terrible, horrible idea that in no way should be a thing at all (more on that later though), or the fact that you’re going to have another Jared Leto Joker movie out at relatively the same time, instead of trying to follow up on Wonder Woman’s success and giving audiences more of that.
What makes this a weird decision is the fact we’re still relatively early in WB’s DCEU, and starting up movies that are definitely NOT a part of the movie universe would be just asking for audience confusion. Sure, making movies not within a shared universe is a great way to make your movies stand out and attract new talent, but at the same time, WB runs the risk of burning people out on comic books in general. If an audience has to keep track of what movies “count”, it’ll get old real quick.
Matt Reeves’ quote that The Batman was “a standalone one” meant that The Batman is a movie that you could watch with no knowledge of the events of Batman v Superman or Justice League. The Batman is probably designed to stand apart from the rest of the WB DC films, much like how you can watch a movie like Logan or Guardians of the Galaxy without needing to know anything that occurred in any previous X-Men movie or Marvel Studios film. Reeves made a big deal out of the fact that he would only direct The Batman if he had complete creative control, and one of those things that he wanted was a movie that didn’t have to follow anything that came before it. In that regards, it’s probably a good idea that Batman stands alone, as he’s arguably the biggest character in the world and will pull in a ton of people regardless of if the movie is connected or not.
In regards to these two Joker movies, I’m less optimistic about their success, or if they’ll even happen to be honest. The response to Leto’s take on the Joker was…mixed at best, and while a lot of people (myself included) loved Margot Robie as Harley, she’s already getting her own spin off with Gotham City Sirens. But it could be that WB is either not going forward with that movie (despite reports that they are), or reworking the Sirens movie to be more Joker and Harley centric. The idea of giving them their own spin off, especially one that has the two characters “in love”, is something that is probably not the best idea, even if you don’t take into account that Suicide Squad already gave us a truncated version of Harley’s origin.
Speaking of origins, why in the world would Martin Scorsese of all people be interested in a Joker spin off movie? I’ll admit that hearing his involvement, as well as The Hangover’s Todd Phillips directing, does make me a little bit curious. But the idea of giving us another origin of the character in movies (no, not Dark Knight, think back to Tim Burton’s Batman) just proves to me that WB and Hollywood at large don’t realize that the true power of the Joker is that you don’t know anything about him. To quote Heath Ledger’s version: “you have nothing to threaten me with”. No one, not Batman, Commissioner Gordon, or anyone else in Gotham knows his history or what he cares about. It’s one of the reasons why Gothaminfuriates me so much. The power of the Joker is his mystery. Once you reveal a version of it, you take away a lot of his mystique. While a Taxi Driver take on the character could be cool, at the same time if you tell a movie length version of his origin you run the risk of ruining the Joker’s mystery, and making him a sympathetic villain, two things that should never be done when it comes to the Clown Prince of Crime. I understand wanting to get different creators to put their stamp on the DC characters, but this isn’t really the time for it.
It is strange though that WB is so quick to start to making so many films, and if they crank out a bunch that are connected to the DCEU and others that aren’t, it’ll be very difficult for them to keep audience interests. While I honestly think that we’ll get to the point of doing “What If” and “Elseworlds” style movies at some point, it’s way too soon to start attempting that, especially when it comes to WB, who still is trying to prove that they know what they are doing when it comes to building their cinematic universe. As it stands right now, all of this news sounds less like a solid plan, and more like throwing stuff at the wall to see if it sticks.