It's safe to say that The Joker is the most famous comic book super villain, having antagonized Batman for nearly 80 years in the comics and other media. With such fame also means that many actors have put their own spin on the Clown Prince of Crime, most recently Jared Leto in Suicide Squad. Leto is expected to reprise The Joker in the DC Extended Universe at a later date, but now it's being reported that DC and Warner Bros have a Joker movie in the works that will not be connected to Leto's version.
The Hangover's Todd Phillips has been partnered with 8 Mile's Scott Silver to pen a Joker origin story that will be part of a new DC movies banner that's intended to "expand the canon of DC properties" and have different actors playing the comic book company's characters. Thus, unconnected to the DCEU continuity. In the case of this Joker movie, the plan is to make it a "gritty and grounded hard-boiled crime film" set in early 1980s Gotham City. As for the actor, there's no word yet on who's being eyed, although it may end up being someone younger than Jared Leto. Deadline also noted that Martin Scorsese is attached to produce this project with Phillips.
Warner Bros has a lot of DC movies in development, but this Joker movie is arguably the craziest of the bunch, even ignoring the fact that it will not take place within the DCEU. Admittedly, setting this story in a gritty 1980s Gotham City does sound intriguing. Although Tim Burton released his first Batman movie in 1989, his version of Gotham City was set in a more anachronistic, gothic environment. This version, on the other hand, sounds like it would mix Batman: Year One with Taxi Driver. Having Scorsese involved would definitely help with securing this kind of tone given how experienced he is in the crime genre, although it would be even better if he was directing the project.
That being said, of all the DC heroes and villains to choose from to lead a standalone movie, giving The Joker an origin story is an odd move. For one thing, one of the defining elements of The Joker is that his origin story is shrouded in mystery. There have been numerous interpretations of how he became the white-skinned, green-haired killer, including most famously in Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's graphic novel The Killing Joke, but as the Clown Prince of Crime said in that same story, "Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another...If I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!" In fact, one could argue that one of the reasons The Joker is such a popular super villain is because his past isn't important; the mystery of where he came from helps make him more terrifying.
Then there's the question of how Batman would fit into this story. Initially it may seem like a no-brainer that the Caped Crusader would appear in The Joker movie given that he's directly tied to the clown's origin in most stories, but there's always a chance that this might go in a creative direction where Batman plays no role in the villain's rise to power. Suicide Squad was able to use The Joker in a way where he barely had any direct interaction with Batman, so perhaps this origin story would follow suit and just have the GCPD trying to stop him.
Clearly there are a lot of questions to be answered about this Joker movie, so keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates on how the project is coming along.