Martin Scorsese Considered Making 'Joker' for 4 Years

Although he ultimately decided not to become involved for "personal reasons," the 'Irishman' director calls the Todd Phillips movie a "remarkable work."

For Martin Scorsese, Joker — a movie which borrows heavily from his own 1970s output as a director — stands apart from other comic book movies. The Irishman helmer revealed in a recent BBC interview that he considered being involved with the project for four years before ultimately walking away.

“I thought about it a lot over the past four years, the Joker,” Scorsese told BBC Cinematic’s Sam Asi, “and I decided that I didn’t have the time for it.”

When the Warner Bros. movie was first reported with Todd Phillips set to direct in 2017, Scorsese was listed as a producer. His name was later dropped, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, who produced The Wolf of Wall Street, Silence and The Irishman for Scorsese, ultimately ended up producing Joker.

It’s unclear in the BBC interview whether Scorsese is referring to potentially taking on a producing role, or as The Hollywood Reporter reported last month, if he was considering directing the film. Instead, he refers obliquely to “personal reasons why I didn’t get involved,” adding instead that he knows the script “really well” and that the movie is “a remarkable work.”

The director went on to differentiate Joker from other comic book-based movies, saying, “For me, ultimately, I don’t know if I make the next step, which is this character developing into a comic book character, you follow? It develops into an abstraction. … That’s different from the superhero films; it’s very different.”

Scorsese also was kinder about superhero movies, while not quite walking back his earlier comments in an interview with Empire magazine about such features not being “cinema.”

“The superhero films, as I said, is another art form,” the filmmaker said while talking to the BBC. “They’re not easy to make, they’re a lot of very talented people doing good work, a lot of young people really, really enjoy them. But I do think it’s an amusement park, an extension of the amusement park.”

Joker has taken in more than $900 million worldwide and now stands as the top-grossing R-rated movie of all time.

Watch the exchange below.