By this point we all know how little Martin Scorsese thinks of superhero movies. (His daughter certainly does.) It’s worth noting, however, that the iconic filmmaker has mainly called out big budget blockbusters coming from the likes of Marvel and DC. So surely he would leave space to appreciate a character-driven drama like Joker? Turns out not so much.
In a new in depth interview with The New York Times about his critical smash The Irishman and his aversion to the Hollywood movie machine, Scorsese was asked about his favorite films of 2019. He admitted that he still needs to see a lot of the buzziest films, but Joker isn’t on his to-watch list. “I saw clips of it,” he said. “I know it. So it’s like, why do I need to? I get it. It’s fine.”
To be fair, Scorsese isn’t solely basing his disinterest on just a few snippets; he had intimate knowledge of the film before it was even made. The storied director actually was presented an offer to produce and/or direct Joker, which was heavily influenced by his own classic films The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver. Speaking with the BBC last year (via Variety), Scorsese said he passed on the project for two reasons: time and story.
“I thought about it a lot over the last four years and decided I did not have the time for it,” said Scorsese. “It was personal reasons why I didn’t get involved. But I know the script very well.”
Talking about the turn Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck takes towards the end of the film, he added, “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.”
Scorsese is currently in pre-production for Killers of the Flower Moon with Joker co-star Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s also reportedly working on a documentary centered on the 1970 music scene in New York City.