Just when you thought it was a fairly average Tuesday night, news broke that DC and Warner Bros. are beginning the work on an origin story movie for the Joker. The film, said to have renowned director Martin Scorsese acting as producer, will be unrelated to the Joker introduced in last year’s Suicide Squad. The character will instead be based in his own continuity, set in the '80s and played by someone other than Jared Leto.
What was buried underneath Deadline's story was a bigger one: the Joker film will begin a new initiative where Warner Bros. will “expand the canon of DC properties” starring versions of its characters featuring different actors and unique storylines that won’t interfere with the DC Extended Universe canon. This revelation is particularly interesting in the wake of a recent rumor that the studio has been commissioning pitches to adapt Mark Millar, Dave Johnson and Killian Plunkett's Elseworld series Superman: Red Son to film.
Perhaps the most obvious argument against this initiative is tha it runs the possibility of being amazingly confusing to the average moviegoer. However, thanks to The Flash introducing the concept of the multiverse to millions of people, many has just learned naturally to accept that the The CW's DCTV shows are in their own world, Gotham and Lucifer have their own continuities on Fox, and the animated movies are each doing their own thing. The only time there was any real confusion was back when Supergirl -- then a CBS series -- had a crossover with the Flash for the first time, a situation that was quickly rectified the following year when the former migrated to the CW for its second season.
Movies are a different beast altogether, however. The whole idea of a shared movie universe, after all, is barely a decade old, when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born and made “continuity” the word of the day. What once seemed impossible to fathom has reached a point that we’ve all learned to just accept that shared universes are a thing for nearly all franchises, from Star Wars to Fast and Furious and Stephen King’s absurdly large library of novels. Depending on what form this particular slate of movies takes, the company may have to put in some extra work to make it clear these movies are in their own canons. It’s one thing for DC to put out a movie based on say, the DC Bombshells comics, and another to announce a Superboy movie set in the present day.