The only thing that spread across the Internet faster than the leaked pictures of Jared Leto’s Joker interacting with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn from the set of the upcoming Suicide Squad were the reactions from fans. If there is one thing that all fanboy’s have in common, it’s the urge to shred anything new to pieces.
The Joker that Jared Leto and director David Ayer are creating is unlike anything that we’ve ever seen, which can be uneasy for people who have loved the character their whole life.
To put it mildly, some of the fans on the Internet haven’t taken to kindly to the new look of the Joker. They hated the tattoos, and the replacement teeth shown in that first joker picture tweeted out by Ayer. While some DC apologists claimed that the tattoos were there only as part of the 75th anniversary of the character, these new leaked photos have shown that that is not the case.
The ink is real. This is the creative decision we’re getting. Even after all that negativity, DC didn’t cave, not even on the “damaged” tattoo on the forehead. You have to admire the confidence. They’re willing to play chicken with the audience, daring us not to see what they have in store for us.
Let’s break down the joker’s look, shall we?
The look that Jared Leto has constructed for his version of The Joker is utterly terrifying. His eyebrows are gone, and the classic white skin is back. While his mouth isn’t scarred or locked in a permanent grin, his lipstick does stand out.
Earlier versions of this character on screen showed a look that was very theatrical. Here we see a joker that cares about his appearance, but is much more reckless with it. The lipstick isn’t perfectly applied, and the shadow around the eyes looks to only enhance the psychotic nature of the character.
The outfit shows heavy influence from The Dark Knight Returns. It’s a take that’s vintage Ayer. He’s giving us a joker who looks like he belongs in the gang underworld. While Nicholson’s version represented the old school mob and Ledger’s was a radical anarchist, this is a slick street criminal. Rather than staying in the past or living outside of the norms of society, we see a man who has decided to excel within its ranks.
Leto’s Joker is the first on the big screen without a grin that’s been altered in some way. Ledger’s sadistic smile was enhanced by the placement of scars along the sides of his mouth. Jack Nicholson’s was twisted thanks to chemicals and cosmetic surgery. Rather than try to come up with a third look, they have instead gone with a look that says no alternations necessary. This is just who he is.
It’s a ballsy move on Leto’s part. Nicholson and Ledger both gave stellar performances, albeit with the benefit of visual aids. Leto will have to sell the character all on his own. The only thing that he has going for him are false teeth, presumably there because Batman has knocked his out over the years.
The fact that the false teeth aren’t colored to match his real ones is quite telling. He’s wiling to stand his ground in a fight. He’s been in the game a long time, and is not afraid to show the physical toll that it has taken on him.
Instead of an anarchist, we get someone who seems dead set on moving to the top of the criminal underworld. He has accepted what kind of world he lives in, and has decided to use his psychopathic personality to move through its ranks.
The facial expressiveness we’ve seen is also unique to this version of the character. The behind the scenes pictures show a face that is capable of looking twisted with psychotic rage, or with the kind of wide-eyed goofiness that is reminiscent of Cesar Romero. While members of the anti-camp movement may scoff at the idea of any Romero influence, try to imagine someone with those expressions who wouldn’t blink at shooting or stabbing someone at random. See where I’m headed with this?
There are five classic types of supervillains: Monsters, enemy commanders, mad scientists, criminal masterminds and inverted-superhero supervillains. By all accounts, the Joker that we’re going to be getting in Suicide Squad looks to be a perfect blend of the last two.
While most people think of the Joker as a supreme criminal, he is also one of the earliest comic book examples of the inverted-superhero supervillain, which is a character that came about as a direct result of the actions taken by the hero. Given the brief glimpses that we’ve seen of Ben Affleck’s Batman so far, Jared Leto’s Joker looks like a perfect 180 of the caped crusader.
It’s Going to Be Awesome!
This isn’t the first time that fans have lost their minds after seeing a beloved character that was set to appear on the big screen. Remember when images of Heath Ledger leaked online prior to the release of The Dark Knight? Fans were practically ready to grab their pitchforks and march down to Warner Bros. headquarters.
Let’s not forget that characters like The Joker has gone through dozens of revisions in the comics over the years. Only when someone tries to make a creative choice on the big screen do people go into fits of rage.
You heard it here first. The Joker we’re getting in Suicide Squad is going to be complex, funny and terrifying. He will also be as grounded as he can get in the fledgling DC Cinematic Universe, while still possessing a bit of that comic flare.
Leto called his take on the character a ‘beautiful disaster.’ Thanks to a fantastic supporting case, a director at the height of his game, and Leto staying in character whether he’s on camera or not, I’m betting that this version everyone’s favorite arch-nemesis will be a runaway favorite.