“Imagine Travis Bickle in Gotham” might have been the elevator pitch: Martin Scorsese is reportedly set to produce the latest Batman Universe spinoff, an origin story for one of DC’s most legendary supervillains, the Joker. Deadline is reporting that it will be independent of the Justice League and Suicide Squad iterations currently underway, with the intention to make a feature evoking such Scorsese classics as Taxi Driver and Raging Bull —“a gritty and grounded hard-boiled crime film set in early-’80s Gotham City.” The Hangover director Todd Phillips and 8 Mile screenwriter Scott Silver are currently co-authoring the script, with Phillips set to direct, but with Scorsese producing, this certainly brings with it a new level of prestige the DC franchise hasn’t seen since Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
The Joker has been depicted on screen as everything from a prankster to a psychopath to a criminal mastermind, and it sounds like this Joker will be more of the latter. Batman’s arch-nemesis has most famously been played (or voiced) by Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill, and Heath Ledger (for which he won a posthumous Oscar). Most recently, Jared Leto took on the role in the much-maligned Suicide Squad and will reprise it in the sequel, but those ultimately disappointed by his over-the-top performance can take comfort: This time around, the creators are said to be on the lookout for a new (and perhaps, younger) actor to take him on. No names have yet been floated.