Suicide Squad faces a great deal of pressure. Most of the conversations acknowledging this daunting reality tend to focus on the more immediate, business aspects of that challenge: after the audience controversy over Man of Steel and the questionable box office (not to mention the critical drudging) of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad has to reshape and recharge the DC Extended Universe, allowing it to continue for the foreseeable future.

But perhaps the even bigger pressure that director David Ayer and his cast and crew face has to do with the legacies that some of the film’s characters have to live up to – none of them anywhere near as long-lived or as potent as that of the Joker. Having only been teased before, we’re now starting to get a better idea of what actor Jared Leto is going to bring to the cinematic table.

Speaking with Total Film (h/t Digital Spy), Leto says that he worked hand-in-hand with Ayer to bring this third major big-screen incarnation of the Clown Prince of Crime to life.

“We sat outside his house and talked, and it was clear he wanted to make something really different. He wanted to break some rules, and that’s very compelling. I got the sense he was on a mission. This wasn’t just a movie for him… I knew I was going to have to dive deep and go to a place I had never gone before.”

When combined with his observation that “the only villain who may be more infamous is the Devil,” it’s clear that the creative and performance challenges the Suicide Squad filmmakers faced were first and foremost on their minds. It also seems clear that the route they’ve opted to take is somewhat of a blend between director Tim Burton’s larger-than-life-but-truer-to-the-comics version from the 1989 Batman (as realized by Jack Nicholson) and Chris Nolan’s more recent, more nihilistic iteration seen in The Dark Knight (as played by the late Heath Ledger).

TheJokerTheDarkKnight Suicide Squad: Jared Leto Says Joker Is Second Only to the Devil


Whether this hybrid approach will be either creatively or commercially successful is yet to be seen, of course, but it seems that this incarnation – at least, conceptually – is similar to director Zack Snyder’s and actor Ben Affleck’s Batman, who made his debut in the recent Batman v Superman: it is a darker, more sordid take on the character, one that seems designed to push the envelope in both cinematic storytelling and in audience reactions (how else to describe a physically fit, tattoo-laden Joker?).

So far, early responses have been mixed, with some viewers tepid and others head-over-heels in love with the film – not too far off from Batman v Superman’s initial reactions, in fact. While Leto’s Joker can very easily blow up in the popular consciousness with no advance warning – just look at Ledger’s now-legendary turn in the makeup – it’s obvious that all involved, from the top Warner Bros executives on down, are taking a big roll of the dice.

Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.

Source: Total Film (via Digital Spy)