Todd Phillips could have had control of the DC Universe. And if he had accepted the job, future films would have pulled away from the MCU.
The DC Universe has gone through some major alterations that have seen many famous names leave iconic roles and films end up on the chopping block. Some of these changes include Henry Cavill leaving the role of Superman and Wonder Woman 3 and a Batman Beyond movie getting canceled. These sweeping changes came when director James Gunn and WB executive Peter Safran took over the DCU and began work on a complete overhaul of the franchise.
Many elements are still getting ironed out; some faces may remain while others get recast. The rumor mill has been off the hook, but one of the most interesting concepts came from the notion that before Gunn took the reins, Warner Bros. wanted Joker director Todd Phillips to lead the franchise. While he supposedly said no to the position, it’s hard not to think about how his vision could’ve altered the DCU. In fact, one of the biggest changes could’ve impacted the franchise in a totally unexpected way.
Todd Phillips Changed the DCU With Joker
Phillips has always had his hand in a wide array of genres as a director and producer. From The Hangover to A Star Is Born, it’s safe to say that h has always had a strong understanding of the human condition and how sad things can be funny and vice versa. That said, dramatic films have always been something where his style seemingly shone the best. A great example of this was in Joker, which followed a mentally ill man trying to make it as a comedian but getting dealt a bad hand at every turn. Instead of trying to keep fighting, society eventually broke him and turned him into an individual that started an anarchistic movement and created an icon wearing clown makeup.
What made Joker so impactful was the slow-burn storytelling that put into focus the fact that everyone can have a bad day, week or even month. No character understood this more than The Joker. While his origin wasn’t comic-accurate, the film captured the importance of how his mind worked and the elements that turned him into an apathetic killer. From then on, the DCU’s villains have been held to a higher standard that has been met with enemies like The Riddler in The Batman. Now, elements that make a villain do terrible things are just as interesting as seeing a hero’s journey.
Villains Could’ve Been a Brave New Direction for the DCU
Had Phillips taken on the role of leading a new era of the DCU, things could’ve been far more villain-focused. With Joker as a template, even films centered on heroes could surpass the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the villain camp by giving a grounded take on its rogues. In the MCU, villains always had a reputation of never being the film’s main focus, with standouts like Thanos and Zemo showing what happens when villains are explored deeply. But if the DCU had focused more on the hero’s enemies, it could’ve shown that villains have just as much of a compelling story and arc as their nemeses and are worth exploring in solo films.
Phillips’ more grounded approach could make villain-centered stories feel more real than ever. As a result, even foes like the Reverse Flash could have a relatable narrative that has audiences empathize with his feelings but never side with his actions. Sadly, even though Phillips won’t be spearheading a golden age of villain stories to stand out in an oversaturated medium, all hope isn’t lost. Future DCU films could still give villains a proper focus and show that a hero is only as good as their arch-nemesis, and the enemies in question could be new takes that are still just as impactful.