JOKER Director Todd Phillips Explains What Went Into His DC BLACK Label Pitch To WB

JOKER Director Todd Phillips Explains What Went Into His DC BLACK Label Pitch To WB

While reports that a Joker sequel was officially greenlit have proven premature, director Todd Phillips' vision for a line of director-driven DC Comics adaptations remains a tantalizing possibility.

todd-phillips-jokerThis past week has seen plans for a Joker sequel seemingly confirmed by a usually reliable source, only for director Todd Phillips to later debunk those claims. Subsequent coverage on the matter has revealed that discussions between WB and Phillips have taken place, but nothing is final. Additionally, the initial report which stated that Phillips would also be developing another DC villain origin story has been shot down.

In a recent interview with Deadline, Phillips did go into detail about what his initial pitch for the DC Black label (a separate line of DC Comics adaptations) entailed. Prior to Joker's release, Phillips pitched the idea to WB, who were somewhat lukewarm on the concept. However, one has to believe they're taking Phillips' idea a little more seriously in the wake of Joker's box office performance.

"I went to Warners because I knew that there would be concerns about, how do you separate it from the movies that they were making?   knew they were going to go, ‘We’re going to confuse the audience if you have this Joker out there in these movies, and then you’re doing this whole other thing.’ So my pitch to them was actually to start a label, which was a little aggressive, I’ll admit, in hindsight [laughs].

I said, ‘This will be the first movie, and then we’ll get this director to do that, and this director to do this, and we’ll call it DC Black, and Joker will be the first film'. In a weird way, it gives you two bites of the apple, of these characters. You can do these kind of down-and-dirty character studies over here, and still do the DC Universe over there. To which they said, ‘Okay, calm down, you’re not starting a label here at Warners, but this is interesting. Go write this and tell us what you’re thinking.'

So it appears that while WB was not ready to commit to Phillips' vision at the time, they did ask him to go back to his offices and develop an outline for DC Black. While THR's initial report was a little premature, it seems likely DC Black will come to fruition at some point in the near future.

What do you think of Phillips' idea? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Click The Next Button Below For 10 DC Supervillains That Should Join JOKER In WB's DC BLACK Label


Perhaps Phillips is going to flesh out his DC Black division with origin stories for Batman's entire rogues gallery? We already have two different Jokers appearing across DC film adaptations, so the fact that Paul Dano is set to play Edward Nigma in Matt Reeves' The Batman shouldn't be a problem. The real choice will be what iteration of the character to adapt - the version that concocts Saw-esque deathtraps or the petty criminal who uses riddles as a means of distraction?


Here's where we're going to start getting weird. Could a low-budget Darkseid origin film work?  It would require the studio go the Guillermo del Toro/Hellboy route instead of a CGI fest. Del Toro was able to make The Golden Army in 2008 for a paltry $85 million. Even when adjusting for inflation, the return on a film that recounts how Prince Uxas turned into the red-eyed ruler of Apokolips due to the Shakespearean tragedy involving his father (Yuga Khan), mother (Heggra), brother (Drax) and wife (Suli) should rival the Joker's profitability.

Lady Shiva

Applying the Joker formula doesn't have to be restricted to psychological thrillers. What if that similar approach was applied to a martial arts movie? An origin story for Lady Shiva, the most deadly martial artists in all of DC, done in the same style as The Raid (which was made for a paltry $1.1 million dollars) or Chocolate should see favorable box office returns for the studio. 

Bruno "Ugly" Mannheim

A lesser known Superman villain, a Mannheim origin story would give WB the opportunity to make a gritty, crime mob movie thinly disguised as a comic book adaptation. Plus, the Superman connection would potentially allow a connection to a Lex Luthor origin story if WB wants to make DC Black a connected universe. 

Vandal Savage

If WB wants to stick to the formula of psychological thriller, a Vandal Savage origin story would certainly fit the mold. In a way, he's DC's evil version of Wolverine - just without the claws. Seeing one of his century-long evil schemes unfold on the big screen would be a unique experience in superhero cinema.

Maxwell Lord

Picture a film based on a slick-talking billionaire lobbyist who can inexplicably close any deal. When he discovers that he has the power of low-level telepathic persuasion, he has inner turmoil over whether to exploit his ability for personal gain or for the benefit of others. With Lord working with the Justice League, it wouldn't be terribly difficult to craft a scenario where that line blurs. Pedro Pascal is set to play a version of the character in Patty Jenkins' WW84.

Abra Kadabra

An origin story for a narcissistic, creepy magician that uses futuristic technology to trick others into believing he can actually use magic could be quite interesting if given a sinister tone. That said, the origin story for Abra Kadabra equally lends itself to being adapted as a R-rated comedy. Casting would likely be the most important factor in determining which route to take.

Papa Midnite

Continuing the magical theme, an R-rated Papa Midnite origin film would definitely lean more on the side of horror than anything we've seen before from comic book movies. While the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel was also described as a horror film, its PG-13 rating will likely keep it from reaching the same level of scariness that a R-rating allows. Michael James Shaw played a version of the character on NBC' short-lived Constantine adaptation.


Sure, Batman's origin story has been done to death, but what if everything gets flipped on its head and the fateful night in Crime Alley results in a very different heir of Thomas Wayne donning a cape and cowl?  The final moments could see Owlman discover the existence of a multiverse, sowing the seeds for a merger of all the different DC cinematic universes. 
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