No Joke: Martin Scorsese And Hangover Director Todd Phillips Are Making A Joker Spin-Off

According to Deadline, Warner Bros. has hired comedy filmmaker Todd Phillips to co-write and direct a new Joker spin-off movie. Rather than build on the portrayal of the character in Suicide Squad, Phillips plans to cast a new, possibly younger actor in the role.

Jared Leto will still return for the Suicide Squad sequel, but it seems Phillips’ Joker movie—like the other planned spin-offs at Warner Bros.—will be a standalone entity situated outside the universe of DC’s other recent movies.

So why Todd Phillips? He may seem like a strange choice, but Phillips has had a career-long preoccupation in common with The Joker: anarchy. From his early documentaries (Hated, Frat House) to his popular hits (Old School, The Hangover trilogy), there’s nothing the filmmaker likes more than some well-orchestrated chaos. In addition, he recently branched out into new territory with the dramatic, reality-based War Dogs, suggesting that he might have the diversity of skills necessary to direct a Joker movie.

Still, there’s one genuinely baffling ingredient in this story: Martin Scorsese, who has signed on to produce the film. As puzzling as this decision might seem, there are a few credible explanations. As we pointed out in our War Dogs review, that film is full of well-executed Scorsese-isms—that might have impressed the legendary director—and it seems that Phillips’ Joker movie plans to inhabit a retro New York very similar to the one in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The King of Comedy. Plus, Scorsese is probably looking to recapture his mainstream clout after the disappointing performance of last year’s Silence.

In any case, the Joker movie is still several years away from release. While you wait, remember another gritty depiction of the character below in this scene from The Dark Knight.