martin scorsese joker

When word of a stand-alone Joker movie first broke, rumor had it that Martin Scorsese was going to be producing. That ultimately didn’t happen, but as it turns out, Scorsese did consider working on the project – but ultimately passed. In the filmmaker’s own words, he “did not have time for it”, and also ultimately decided the material just wasn’t his cup of tea.

Welcome to week 4000 of people talking about Martin Scorsese and comic book movies. Scorsese kicked off a somewhat silly firestorm this year when he announced that he did not consider superhero movies to be “cinema.” Almost immediately, fans – especially Marvel Cinematic Universe fans – took Scorsese to task, daring to ask why one of our best living filmmakers didn’t care for Thor: The Dark World.

To his credit, Scorsese has attempted to clarify some of his statements in the wake of the fallout. And as it turns out, he came pretty close to producing a comic book movie of his own – Joker. In the BBC video above, the legendary director talks a bit about his potential Joker involvement, describing how he circled the project for four years.

“I know the film very well,” Scorsese said (via IndieWire). “I know [director Todd Phillips] very well. My producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff produced it. I thought about it a lot over the last four years and decided I did not have the time for it. It was personal reasons why I didn’t get involved. But I know the script very well. It has a real energy and Joaquin [Phoenix]. You have remarkable work.”

In addition to just not having time for the film, Scorsese also added that he ultimately had some issues with the script:

“For me, ultimately, I don’t know if I make the next step into this character developing into a comic book character. You follow? He develops into an abstraction. It doesn’t mean it’s bad art, it’s just not for me…The superhero films, as I’ve said, are another art form. They are not easy to make. There’s a lot of very talented people doing good work and a lot of young people really, really enjoy them.”

To me, that sounds like Scorsese very diplomatically saying, “The script isn’t that great.” And you know what? He’s right. I gave Joker a positive review, but the film’s biggest flaw is its script, which is lazy and owes a huge debt to Scorsese’s films The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver. I’d say Joker as a film ultimately works despite its script, not because of it.

In any case, I hope we can all focus on the fact that Scorsese calls superhero films “another art form”, and that they’re just not his type of movie. That’s a reasonable statement, and one worth respecting. Now let us all move on and never speak of this again.

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