Thousands of people attend New York Comic-Con every year. As the sea of fans search the showroom floor for merchandise and attend various panels, the building is also filled with plenty of comic creators and celebrities. Unlike regular attendees, celebrities who are well-known can no longer casually walk around the showroom floor — not without attracting large crowds, that is. Some, however, have found another way to enjoy the floor and interact with fans without drawing a crowd: costumes!
Bryan Cranston has dressed up as Walter White, the character he played in AMC’s Breaking Bad. Actor Daniel Radcliffe has slipped into a Spider-Man costume. Director Peter Jackson became a Jester. Those are only a few of the examples of popular talent cosplaying, so they can walk around the convention just like the thousands of attendees can. Now, Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto — who has been cast as the Joker in Suicide Squad — can be added to the list of celebrities who have strolled around a convention while wearing a disguise.
During New York Comic-Con 2015, Jared Leto put on a large baboon mask and walked around the convention unrecognized. The actor who will make his debut as Joker in Suicide Squad (unless there’s a surprise cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, that is) didn’t simply observe the floor, he also took pictures of cosplayers. Leto snapped shots of several different people, but it looks like he had an emphasis on taking pictures of DC characters. He posted images of Superman, Robin (appears to be Tim Drake), two Harley Quinns (one inspired by Margot Robbie’s version of Quinn), and, of course, two Jokers. Not only was one cosplayer dressed as the new version of Joker that Leto portrays, but Leto even took a picture with the fan as they remained completely oblivious to who was wearing the baboon mask. Even if Leto didn’t reveal who he truly was after the picture was taken, at least that fan now has quite a story to tell his friends.
Leto’s dedication to his previous performances led to him eventually landing an Oscar, and it’s been reported multiple times that his work as the Joker is no different — word is he’s fully embraced being the twisted DC villain. So, the “Joker” taking pictures of these fans without them knowing it’s the new Clown Prince of Crime does feel somewhat in-character for the evil foe, and he further proved his passion for the role when he took a picture of someone dressed as Batman and made the image a little more personal. Unlike the other pictures, Leto gave the picture of Batman a caption: “My enemy my friend”.
Some believe this adds a little more weight to a theory about the Joker’s true identity in the DC Extended Universe. They think Jason Todd — the second Robin who was violently beaten with a crowbar and then murdered by Joker in the comics — wasn’t killed, and he instead grew up to become the new Joker. To many, the theory is off-putting and obviously only time will tell if it’s true, but it’s not as far-fetched as it may seem.
In the comics, Todd returned from the dead as the Red Hood — an identity the Joker previously used — and this generated a major conflict with the Dark Knight. Taking on other pre-existing costumes is in-character for him. He began as Robin — a title previous taken by Dick Grayson — and has even dressed as Nightwing, Robin yet again, his own version of Batman, and even Hush. To add fuel to the speculation fire, Jason Todd also has a “J” under his eye in the video game Batman: Arkham Knight. Despite Todd taking many different aliases — even if they were just for an issue or two — his psyche has mostly remained his own, so to become the Joker, both physically and mentally, would be a big change for the second Robin. Could extended torture and brainwashing from the Joker himself permanently change Todd, or is this just a fan theory that’ll never been seen on the big screen?
The “my enemy my friend” comment is more likely just a general remark about the dynamic between Joker and Batman. The Caped Crusader despises his foe for the countless lives he’s taken, yet Joker – depending on the writer — enjoys interacting with Batman. So, to the Joker, Batman is not only his adversary, but also a “friend.” When previously asked about the Joker and his horrifying motives, current Batman writer Scott Snyder — whose work has been praised by fans and critics — explained that, to him, the Joker views himself as someone who believes he is bettering Batman by challenging him time and time again.
Would many fans want the new Joker to be Jason Todd? Probably not. Could the twist make sense? If handled well, yes, but it would be shocking if the people behind these stories were oblivious to the fact that Jason Todd being the Joker would upset many fans and feel like an unnecessary twist. If the objective is to do something inspired by the Under the Red Hood story arc, then there are plenty of other ways to go about it — the animated movie proves drastic changes aren’t needed for it to be an amazing viewing experience, after all. Still, only time will tell whether or not the rumor pans out, and if so, whether or not it’s easier for many to accept it once all of the context is revealed. For now, it’s just cool to know that Leto went to NYCC in disguise and took pictures of several DC cosplayers.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern Corps on June 19th, 2020. Untitled Batman and Superman solo films will be coming at dates TBD.