By now, you’re aware that Martin Scorsese isn’t a Marvel Studios aficionado (and he’s not alone among directors), but he hasn’t lodged any “theme park” criticism towards Warner Bros./DC movies. So his problem isn’t really with comic-book movies as a whole, and that distinction is bolstered by Scorsese performing a long and arduous weighing on whether to be substantially involved with the Joaquin Phoenix-starring Joker. Obviously, Scorsese’s name wasn’t attached to the film upon release, not even as a producer, although he considered jumping into the project for four years.
Now that Joker’s made all the money and might even hit $1 billion globally, Scorsese’s wound down his MCU criticism long enough to volunteer information on why he didn’t go full Joker on what he now calls “remarkable work.” He possibly could have even directed before Todd Phillips signed on, but this is what Scorsese told the BBC (via IndieWire):
“I know the film very well. 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. You have remarkable work.”
Everything turned out alright. Scorsese’s got The Irishman on the way, and Phillips created a significant work of art. He’s still even dropping intriguing BTS photos on Instagram, which we wouldn’t be receiving from Scorsese as director. Besides, the movie might have been too-Scorsese-for-Scorsese, given that it heavily references Taxi Driver, both thematically and aesthetically. Also, we probably don’t want to open that alternate dimension where Scorsese mainstay Leonardo DiCaprio starred as Arthur Fleck in an origin story for a character later played by Jack Nicholson. That definitely would have been way too weird for comfort.