While Todd Phillips has clearly acknowledged the work of Martin Scorsese as an influence on his latest film, “Joker,” the comic book movie feels as if it is 100% a Todd Phillips production, with the director taking credit for just about every aspect of the filmmaking. For better or worse, “Joker” is a Todd Phillips film, seemingly from conception to delivery. But according to THR, that wasn’t always the case.
The latest report claims that Martin Scorsese, who was originally rumored to be a producer on the film in 2017 when Warner Bros. began development, was actually eye-balling “Joker” as a potential directing vehicle at one point. This is the news that originally caught fire years back and began getting film fans excited about the villain-centric film. But that changed when Todd Phillips pitched his take on the character and Scorsese let the ‘Hangover’ filmmaker take the reins. Eventually, Scorsese removed his name from the project completely.
While WB didn’t respond to THR’s report, Scorsese’s people did, saying that the director “had no intention to direct Joker” and only “considered producing.” Obviously, it would be bad form for the filmmaker to steal Phillips’ thunder and claim that he was going to direct the film, so confirmation would be surely impossible to get.
Either way, the quick joke would be that Phillips’ might have paid so much of an homage to Scorsese’s filmography that it’s almost as if the icon was behind the camera himself. Honestly, if you showed “Taxi Driver” and “Joker” in a double-feature, the casual movie-goer would likely believe that both films were created by the same filmmaker, anyway.
That being said, the possibility that Scorsese could have directed “Joker” is fascinating. Would he have gone so far into his own previous work to bring the story to life? Or would he have taken an entirely different direction on the source material? We’ll never know.
Perhaps the biggest question is whether or not Scorsese would consider his own comic book film “cinema?”