The Joker origin movie: plot, cast, release date and everything you need to know

Jared Leto is out

While we wait for the three new Affleck Batman flicks, the skin-crawlingly fascinating villain The Joker is set to get his own origin movie, which might rival Logan as the darkest and classiest of comic book adaptations. Here, with regular updates to come, is everything we know so far.

What’s the release date?

Still in the very early stages of production, no release date has yet been set: Warner Brothers’ schedule up to 2020 doesn’t include the film so it may well be emerging after that.

Is there a trailer?

Not yet – but we’ll keep this page updated as soon as there is.

Who’s directing?

The Hangover director Todd Phillips will be sitting in the director’s chair. The legendary Martin Scorsese is acting as executive producer, and writing the script with Hollywood writer Scott Silver (The Fighter, 8 Mile).

Is Jared Leto in it?

No – and he says he’s “a little confused” about that.

Asked in early September 2017 about not being involved in the film he said: “I’m a little confused too, but yeah, there are a couple of things happening in the DC world… It’s a big universe and when you play the Joker, there’s no ownership there. You have the honour of holding the baton for a little while and then passing it off. But there are other films in development and I’m excited to see what comes from them.”

Producers are planning on auditioning younger actors to play the perma-smiling anti-hero in his youth. That said, other reports have suggested that 42-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio is the first choice to take on the role, although he’s yet to be offered it.

What’s the plot of The Joker origin movie?

Reportedly set in 1980s Gotham, the origin story will work as a gritty crime drama dissecting how bullying helped turn the Joker evil.

Brendan Schraub, a former MMA fighter who is friends with director Phillips’ agent, told The Joe Rogan Experience podcast:“It’s dark. It’s like a dark Joker. As a kid, he had a permanent smile and everyone made fun of him. It’s like on the streets of Brooklyn. It’s super dark and real.”

There is no definitive Joker origin story: viewers of The Dark Knight will recall several stories Heath Ledger’s Joker told about how he got his grisly smile. “If I’m going to have a past,” he said in one tale, “I prefer it to be multiple choice!”

The closest thing we have to an origin story for the Joker is Alan Moore’s one-shot graphic novel, The Killing Joke.

What’s the plot of The Killing Joke?

The Killing Joke is about what “one bad day” can do to someone. 

In the early part of the story, Joker is an unnamed lab assistant who quits his job to become a stand-up comedian, but sucks at it. Unable to support his pregnant wife through that job, he agrees to two criminals’ request to help with a heist, going through his old lab to rob a playing card company next door. Before the heist, his wife dies in a household accident, but the mobsters force him to go through with it anyway – and they make him wear a red hood that implicates him as the heist’s mastermind.

After his mobster pals die in a shootout, Joker is faced with Batman and desperately jumps into a pipe. Drenched in chemical waste, his skin is bleached, his lips turn red, and his hair goes green. Along with the loss of his wife, his disfigurement drives him insane and he becomes the Joker. There’s much more to the story after that – you can read about it here. It was made into an animated film in 2016, which you can see the trailer for below:

Who else is in the cast for the movie?

We don’t know yet, but we’ll keep this page updated with any new info as it comes in.