The DCEU is developing a Joker movie with Martin Scorsese involved, and possibly without Jared Leto.
Virtually every single detail about this story is a little crazy, so stick with it. Warner Bros. is developing a solo movie for The Joker, Batman's greatest villain. This shouldn't be too surprising. The Joker is arguably the greatest villain in all of comics, and he's as iconic and as big a potential box office draw as his pointy-headed arch enemy. The idea of Warner Bros. making a Joker movie would be less a case of "wow, that's crazy" and rather "what took them so long" if it wasn't for the approach and the people involved.
Todd Phillips (The Hangover, War Dogs) will direct, and co-write a script with Scott Silver (8 Mile, The Fighter). Fair enough. But this is where things get really interesting. Martin Scorsese is producing. And if Martin Scorsese and The Joker seem like an odd pairing (or maybe a perfect one), it might seem less so in a moment.
This is to be a Joker origin story, told as (according to Deadline, who broke the news) "a gritty and grounded hard-boiled crime film set in early-’80s Gotham City that isn’t meant to feel like a DC movie as much as one of Scorsese’s films from that era, like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, or The King Of Comedy." This probably means we're going to get some version of the story about an up and coming criminal/killer who finds himself suddenly disfigured via a chemical bath. Suddenly, DC Comics' recent announcement that the Joker's real name, long left deliberately unknown, is Jack Napier (a callback to the 1989 Tim Burton Batman movie) makes a lot more sense from a synergy perspective.
Jared Leto originated the DCEU version of the Joker for 2015's Suicide Squad, and his performance has been pretty divisive. Deadline makes it sound like this movie will feature a different actor in the role, and it's not completely clear whether or not this will officially tie in with the rest of the DCEU continuity.
Apparently, Warner Bros. plans to "expand the canon of DC properties and create unique storylines with different actors playing the iconic characters." This vague description makes it sound like the studio is pursuing a big screen version of DC Comics' Elseworlds line, which delivered classics like the Victorian-era Batman vs. Jack the Ripper story Gotham By Gaslight (soon to get an animated adaptation) and the communist Superman story, Red Son, which has recently been the subject of big screen rumours.
This kind of approach, rather than the strict, Marvel-esque "shared universe" would certainly allow the studio to both forge their own identity and carry on with their mission statement of allowing directors with strong cinematic identities to steer these movies. This could be their opportunity to experiment with an R-rating, too.
The project is still in its earliest stages. Warner Bros. is currently developing a number of Batman-related projects for the screen, including The Batman, the Harley Quinn-centric Gotham City Sirens, Batgirl, and Nightwing, none of which have release dates yet either.
More as we hear it...