Nobody could predict the insane level of success that director/co-writer Todd Phillips’ DC mindbender Joker would yield when released to the public. As the film has become a certified billion dollar hit, with the most profitable margin of any comic book film in history, the origin story of Arthur Fleck’s clown prince of anarchy is something you think home studio Warner Bros. would want to capitalize on. Which could be a good thing, considering Phillips originally pitched three different films to create a cinematic equivalent of DC’s more mature Black Label brand.
In a recent interview, Todd Phillips revealed his initial concept as follows:
I pitched it as three movies, Joker being the first with me, and then these two other movies, with two other directors. But I don't really want to name them, because then it'll become a thing and I'm pulling these directors into it when I've never even told them about it. It was just me telling Warner Bros. about it.
Similar to the idea that Warner Bros. allegedly had to create standalones that existed outside of the usual DC cinematic canon entries, Phillips proposed three projects of a darker shade than your average DC Comics film. What’s even better is that during his pitch meeting, he put out two other ideas, with their own directors suggested to helm.
So rather than have a connected universe, or even a Joker trilogy, Todd Phillips wanted to create a brand new label’s worth of films to tell these stories. However, as he further discussed the status of that pitch with IGN UK’s podcast (via ComicBook.com,) it sounds like Warner Bros. wasn’t on board with that idea upon first glance. Phillips continued to explain the scenario in the following terms:
I still think it's a great idea. But I'll be honest with you, their argument - well, it wasn't an argument - their thing is, there's no reason to create its own label, there's no reason to go to all that trouble. Just when we want to one of these kind of movies, we'll do it, just like Joker is. I get that, but I also thought it was just kind of cool if it became a thing.
The studio might want to rethink their initial rejection of Todd Phillips’ Joker inspired film label, much like Phillips himself may want to reconsider ever saying that his own R-rated superhit was merely a one-off. With the audience obviously hungry for these sorts of movies at the cineplex, it’s a wise idea to at least have a couple more courses planned, if not an entire buffet of dark and gritty reinterpretations of existing canon.
For now, the future of R-rated films in DC’s lineup presumably extends only to Birds of Prey, which is still something that could change before the film hits theaters this upcoming February. If it enjoys anything close to the success of Joker, it can be assumed that this plan just might be revived in the name of keeping the train rolling. But if you want to get another fix of Joker’s majesty, then you’ll be able to do so at home when the film hits Digital HD on 12/17; just in time to start a new debate around the Christmas dinner table.