When reports of an in-development Joker movie began to appear, one of the names associated with the project was Martin Scorsese. The veteran filmmaker was attached as a co-producer on the DC Comics movie for a while before stepping away.
It was believed that Scorsese was courted by Warner Bros to get Leonardo DiCaprio to play Joker. Todd Phillips, who ended up directing Joaquin Phoenix in Joker, later denied this and said that he always had Phoenix in mind for the role.
Now, Scorsese has revealed why he passed on Joker. While speaking to BBC, Scorsese said, “I know the film very well. I know [director Todd Phillips] very well. My producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff produced it. I thought about it a lot over the last four years and decided I did not have the time for it. It was personal reasons why I didn’t get involved. But I know the script very well. It has a real energy and Joaquin. You have remarkable work.”
Martin Scorsese continued, “For me, ultimately, I don’t know if I make the next step into this character developing into a comic book character,” Scorsese said. “You follow? He develops into an abstraction. It doesn’t mean it’s bad art, it’s just not for me…The superhero films, as I’ve said, are another art form. They are not easy to make. There’s a lot of very talented people doing good work and a lot of young people really, really enjoy them.”
Joker ultimately became a huge commercial success for Warner Bros, and it is approaching the 1 billion dollar mark at the time of writing.
Critically, it received mixed reviews, with a 69 per cent score at Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus reads, “Joker gives its infamous central character a chillingly plausible origin story that serves as a brilliant showcase for its star — and a dark evolution for comics-inspired cinema.”