DC Extended Universe: Evaluating The Joker
August 8th, 2016 | by Ryan Mayer
The Joker has landed in the DC Extended Universe with Suicide Squad and every fan on earth has their own passionate take. Here, our own Ryan Mayer takes a look at where this version of the Clown Prince of Crime ranks in the character’s long history of media appearances.
Evaluating The Joker:
In today’s world, the Joker has become one of the most well-known villains in all of comic books and is one of the most liked. The Clown Prince of Crime has made his dent in the world and has garnered so many fans that people will defend the character to the death, even when they don’t agree with the character’s castings or the actions the character might take in different media.
One of the most notable actors to be cast as the titular villain was Heath Ledger. When he was first cast as the Joker he was ridiculed and shot down for the idea that he was unable to play such a crazy and “out there” character. The one thing that worked in Ledger’s favor at the time was the differing history of the Joker on film. This meant Ledger’s, Nicholson’s, and Hamill’s Joker could all be loved at once without straining on the part of fans. Once the Dark Knight was released, people were able to see what Ledger could bring to the table as the Joker and fans were blown away to say the least.
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Each iteration of the Joker to be shown on the big and small screen have had different types of personalities. While many would argue that Mark Hamill‘s Joker is the ideal version of the character, each actor that has come before and after him have tried to bring something new. For example, Cesar Romero’s interpretation of the Joker was called “The Clown”, Jack Nicholson’s is “The Gangster”, Heather Ledgers is “The Anarchist”, and now Jared Leto’s new interpretation is being hailed as “The Psychopath”.
*Spoilers for Suicide Squad Ahead*
After watching Suicide Squad the title given by fans to Leto’s Joker is completely warranted. The Joker that has been brought into the DC Extended Universe is, indeed, a complete psychopath, but somehow he is a functioning psychopath.
From seeing just a few scenes of what Leto’s Joker is made of, you get the sense of the type of villain that has been released into this universe. We already know from past interviews and reports that Leto’s Joker and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn have already done one of the gruesomest things in DC movies history by killing the Batman’s sidekick, Robin. This was confirmed by the spray paint that was on Robins costume in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice that read “HA HA HA JOKES ON YOU BATMAN!”. In the new Suicide Squad movie, as we are being introduced to Harley Quinn, there were a bunch of attributes listed about her being “an accomplice in the murder of Robin”. This act alone shows you that Leto’s Joker means business.
The thing that really enhances this Joker’s identity is the introduction of his long time sidekick and girlfriend Harley Quinn. It gives him a different dynamic that the other iterations of Joker lacked and allowed him to feed off a different character, one that you felt the Joker actually cared about.
The very interesting dynamic with her introduction into the big screen was his obvious hatred at how much he needed Harley Quinn. There’s a specific scene that shows this immensely. During one of Harley Quinn’s flashbacks she remembers when the Joker brought her to the ACME chemical plant and effectively convinced her to jump from the edge they were standing into the vat of chemicals below. Once she jumped, the Joker began to walk away but soon stopped and had a pained and angry look on his face, like he could not bring himself to walk away and leave her to die.
From the small glimpses we have of the Joker in Suicide Squad we can already come to the conclusion that this iteration, while being able to run his own business and his own gang, is psychotic and unstable. He is a character that can change from being your friend to putting a bullet in your brain within seconds.
Leto’s Joker is certainly a different version than what we have seen in the past, but is one that is very creepy, psychopathic, and entertaining and all of this comes from only a couple of scenes of him. There’s no telling what kind of performance Leto can pull-off with a full-length part in his own movie, preferably with the Batman.
One thing to keep in mind when comparing Leto to the other iterations of the Joker is the amount of time he had on screen and the type of script that was written for him. This version of the Clown Prince of Crime was written to be a character in the background, while the others were written as the main villain of the movie. Suicide Squad wasn’t written for him, but a for a different team and a different villain, so his actions and the amount of screen time he had dropped immensely. Compared to the other performances, we know less about this one, as all the other main leads and had scripts written to present them as the major evil force in the film.
In the end, this was an amazing look into who the mind of one of the stars in the DC Extended Universe, and it will truly be interesting to see what use is made of Leto in future DC film properties.
Have you seen Suicide Squad?
What was your opinion on Jared Leto’s performance as the Joker?
Let us know in the comments section below.
Ryan Mayer is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @RMayer94