DC Wants To Recruit A Director Who Hates Comic Book Movies

By Michileen Martin | Published

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In the ongoing saga of the Warner Bros. Discovery merger shake-up, it looks like a big change might be coming to DC Films that represents a somewhat unexpected choice. According to a new report, Warner Bros. Discovery wants Joker director Todd Phillips to become one of the guiding voices in the DCEU. The thing is that in spite of directing Joker, Phillips isn’t exactly a big fan of comic book inspired fare.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “sorting out” the DCEU is one of the biggest challenges faced by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav. To help him in that challenge, Zaslav reportedly wants Todd Phillips’ help. THR is somewhat vague on exactly what Phillips’ role would entail. The story says Zaslav wants Phillips “to do more in the DC universe,” including possibly acting as an advisor even though the director’s knowledge of DC Comics is pretty limited. THR implies one direction Zaslav might be going in is making Phillips to the DCEU what Kevin Feige has become for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

todd phillips joaquin phoenix joker
Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019)

Of course, it seems likely the reason Zaslav is interested in Todd Phillips’ stronger involvement in the DCEU isn’t mysterious — Joker made over $1 billion and there aren’t a lot of DC movies that can say the same. However, his version of the Clown Prince of Crime’s origin story, in Phillips’ own words, doesn’t “follow anything from the comics.” In August 2019, the director told Empire he and the other filmmakers went out of their way to ignore the comics and create a brand new story (even though one of the most iconic Joker stories, the 1988 graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, shows Joker starting out as a stand-up comic who can’t get anyone to laugh at his jokes).

Really both during the promotional lead-up to Joker, during the theatrical run, and afterwards; much of the dialogue driven by Todd Phillips’ production team and cast revolved around the supposed worthlessness of other comic book movies. Along with making it clear Phillips’ movie wasn’t “really” a comic book movie, there was Joker producer Emma Tillinger Koskof who made sure the world knew she doesn’t like comic book movies, Joker star Marc Maron who repeatedly trashed Marvel movies and even made an anti-Marvel rant a big part of a Netflix stand-up special, and of course Martin Scorsese — who was originally attached to Joker as a producer and whose films Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy are two of Joker‘s biggest influences — who decided to let everyone know all cinema was valid but not Marvel.

Ever since the beginning of the DCEU, the “Not really a comic book movie” strategy is one DC filmmakers have used. It hasn’t worked, it doesn’t work, and the report from THR could sadly be a sign that — as per usual — Warner Bros. Discovery is continuing with the idea that things that never work should be repeated as often as possible. Zack Snyder often remarked that some of his DC movies weren’t really comic book movies. The Flash cinematographer Henry Braham says that the movie with the guy in the bright red outfit with super speed isn’t really a comic book movie. And Todd Phillips said the same about Joker. Who knows? Maybe they should try making a comic book movie and see if that works?