While the reigning champion of superhero franchises is undoubtedly Marvel, Warner Bros. is fighting to catch up — and it has found an unexpected way to do so: a Joker solo film focued on the villain's mysterious origins, written by Todd Phillips (The Hangover) and produced by #MartinScorsese.
But there's a catch: The movie won't be part of the DC Extended Universe. Instead, this will be an Elseworlds story, separate from any previously established mythology.
The project isn't supposed to be a one-and-done exploration, though. According to Deadline, Joker's solo adventure is expected to allow Warner Bros. to create a franchise apart from the #DCEU, one focused entirely on films dealing with Elseworlds stories. So, while it's controversial now, what if the Joker movie proves to be successful?
Which Other Storylines Could We See In This New Franchise?
#WarnerBros has an open canvas of fresh and unique Elseworlds comic book storylines to tackle. While the franchise is still in its infancy, it's very intriguing to know which other projects the studio could be thinking of tackling next. With that in mind, there are four major runs in particular that could work great as live-action adventures:
- Red Son (2003)
The comic book explores the idea of a Superman who never landed in Kansas with the Kents. Instead, #KalEl landed in Russia in the 1950s, and he became the Soviet Union's biggest weapon as a result.
Earlier this year, the possibility of a Red Son film surfaced when Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts revealed he had pitched a live-action version of the comic book to Warner Bros. At the time, the prospect seemed like a long shot since the studio seemed to be committed to the DCEU. With the Elseworlds treatment now on the table, however, Warner Bros. could be considering bringing it to life.
- The Dark Knight Returns (1986)
#FrankMiller's 1986 graphic novel is one of the most influential works in comic book history, and has been adapted for several other mediums. In fact, some elements from the storyline made their way into #BatmanVSuperman, with the two most prominent ones being Batman's bodybuilder-like physique and his comparatively advanced age. DC is quite fond of this run, so I wouldn't be surprised if the Joker origin movie paves the way for an adaptation down the line.
- Kingdom Come (1996)
This is one of my favorite comic book storylines. It deals with a dystopian future in which superheroes have retired, and a new wave of super-powered individuals have come out. They aren't heroes, though — they start vicious fights between each other without any regard for people's safety. #Superman regroups the #JusticeLeague to stop them, and a great battle of legacy vs. evolution ensues.
More than an action comic, #KingdomCome is a psychological exploration of the characters we often see as deities. A well-handled live-action adaptation could be a great and unique addition to the constant stream of comic book films.
"Kingdom Come" has a clear sense of finality, and the main trait of a modern superhero franchise is its developing nature. Ideally, it should never end, much like a comic book. Taking that into account, I'm sure the story would work best as a standalone adventure.
- Injustice (2013)
NetherRealm Studios took the geek world by storm in 2013 with #InjusticeGodsAmongUs, a game that asked the question, "What if our greatest heroes became our greatest enemies?" Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and a slew of villains joined forces to form a dictatorship, while heroes like Batman, Harley Quinn and Green Arrow banded together as an opposition force. The game's concept became a hit, and it spawned a successful comic book series that covered the events prior to the video game, and the aftermath.
Similar to "The Dark Knight Returns," the #DCEU has used some elements from Injustice, such as Superman's future evil turn in Batman v. Superman, and Flash's armored suit in Justice League. There's been a lot of demand from fans to bring the concept of the game to the big screen. That kind of demand usually doesn't go unnoticed, so the studio could be taking the chance to make our dreams come true.
What Are The Benefits Of Doing Elseworld Stories?
The DC Extended Universe is still finding its stride. Yes #WonderWoman's success was a glimmer of hope but the other movies in the pipeline could either go incredibly well or incredibly wrong. So the question becomes: Was it a good idea for Warner Bros. to start developing a new cinematic universe when its first one is just getting started?
Yes, as long as it's handled carefully. If we think about, an Elseworlds franchise has a lot of potential benefits.
The most common complaint from filmmakers when it comes to cinematic universes and #superhero films is often the strict corporate oversight that they're greeted with when boarding a project that's part of a larger franchise, in order to keep continuity rolling. A director may want to take characters in a certain direction, but can't because that would contradict what came before.
An Elseworld franchise would eliminate that, because it would present a constant blank canvas for any filmmaker wanting to leave their particular mark in the #DC Universe.
DC Comics has given us countless stories, many that just couldn't work within the structure of a cinematic universe because they either interfere with continuity or just don't fit with a tone that's already established. With this planned new franchise, however, we could have the chance to enter a variety of different worlds like Batman Beyond's, Gotham City Garage, etc., all without the worry of crumbling the foundation of the franchise's continuity.
Of course, we need to keep in mind that there's still a long way to go for this new take on the DC Universe; it hasn't even started yet. That said, this plan has great potential, so hopefully it materializes into something special.
Justice League, the next DCEU film, opens in theaters on November 17, 2017.
Which other Elseworld stories would you like to see in live-action? Are you happy with Warner Bros.' plan? Let me know in the comments!