Leonardo DiCaprio emerges as early frontrunner to play The Joker in new Martin Scorsese-produced film

The new stand-alone project - which will tell the origin story of the DC Comics villain - is in the very early stages of pre-production

Leonardo DiCaprio has emerged as an early frontrunner for the role of The Joker in the forthcoming film about the character’s origin story, which is being executively produced by Martin Scorsese.

News of the project broke late last month, with DC Films and Warner Bros. said to be developing a 1980s-set film about the iconic villain. It is thought that the tone of the movie – which will be directed by The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips – will be ‘a gritty and grounded hard-boiled crime film’ in the style of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, and will be set in Gotham City.

A new report has now suggested that Warner Bros. are keen on securing the services of DiCaprio for the role of The Joker.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, sources close to the project have claimed that the studio will use Scorsese’s involvement to try and tempt DiCaprio into taking on the role.

Heath Ledger as The Joker

The late Heath Ledger as The Joker in the 2008 film The Dark Knight

Should they be successful, it would be the Revenant star’s first-ever foray into the comic book movie world.

A formal offer has yet to be sent to DiCaprio, however – while Scorsese is still thought to be negotiating the terms of his involvement in The Joker film.

But, should the deal come off, it will see the actor and director reunite once again; the pair having famously worked together on the likes of Gangs of New York, The Departed and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Earlier this week, DiCaprio donated $1 million to the relief effort following the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas.