At this point, the somewhat… mixed reaction to Heath Ledger’s casting as Batman‘s iconic arch-nemesis has been well-established, with the rest history: Ledger’s performance was so strong, the notion that The Joker would be played by a new actor in Suicide Squad seemed hard to believe. But when Jared Leto was announced for the part hot off an Oscar win, the apprehension turned to cautious excitement.
Since then, few concrete details have been offered about Joker or his fellow DC Comics villains, with Leto only claiming that he’s “gaining a lot of weight” for the role (set to begin filming in April). Luckily, the actor’s appearance at the 87th Academy Awards revealed some new details: after years of Leto’s hair being his most talked-about feature, the actor is losing the locks – and gaining size already.
Leto’s confession to ET Online may seem more at home in a gossip column than a comic book conversation, but the confirmation of a short-haired Joker will set many fans’ minds at ease:
“This is the last night you’ll see me with long hair! This is my going away party for my hair.”
The actor had previously teased that he would be losing his substantial mane in 2015, but this will nevertheless come as a disappointment to those who hoped to see a long-locked Joker. And despite the character’s fame, director David Ayer still has plenty of room to create a unique spin on the villain while keeping loyal to the comics – as the decades since Joker’s arrival have seen many, many different versions strike a chord with fans:
A pale complexion and green hair may be the only qualities to count on, but his scalp wasn’t the only part of the actor on display at this year’s Oscars. Having previously gained close to seventy pounds for his role in Chapter 27 – before losing it all and then some for Dallas Buyers Club – Leto’s plan to gain “a lot” of weight may have startled some fans. Especially since Joker typically falls more on the ‘lanky’ side than ‘lumbering.’
However, we speculated at the time that “gaining weight” for Squad didn’t necessarily mean the Clown Prince of Crime would be sporting a pot belly. Leto has teased his recent swelling (but fit) figure on social media over the past several weeks, but his red carpet/after-party photo-bombing showed just how much he’s filled out already:
More Jared Leto party pics! pic.twitter.com/vs0ZPyFLr8— Yahoo Movies (@YahooMovies) February 23, 2015
As cast members Margot Robbie and Will Smith talk about their superhero workouts as preparation for the film, the physical transformation he’ll be undergoing to play Joker (who will likely spend most of the film in a cell) is impossible to hide. But given the complexities of the human body (and workout/weight gain programs) it’s worth mentioning that Leto was down to his wiry, muscly self just months ago – meaning bulking up isn’t necessarily the same as fattening up.
It may seem strange to think, but David Ayer and Leto may be looking to introduce one of the first physically imposing Jokers that movie audiences have yet seen. The Dark Knight introduced one of the most deadly and terrifying, but it was impossible to suggest that Heath Ledger’s villain could whether a blow from Christian Bale’s hero. With Ben Affleck’s time in the cowl, Zack Snyder is going even farther.
There’s little question that Batman and The Joker are a package deal – no matter how much Suicide Squad may be twisting the established hero/villain introduction formula. And with Affleck clearly bringing the biggest, burliest, and brawling-est Batman yet, it’s safe to assume Warner Bros. plans to eventually bring these new versions of hero and villain together in a solo Batman movie.
Fans will be right to point out that Joker’s muscles are never what made him dangerous – but they certainly couldn’t hurt. To distinguish Leto’s take from those which preceded him, if nothing else. We’re certainly not making the case for Leto to swell to Tom Hardy levels (Bane in The Dark Knight Rises), but adding some bulk or strength would certainly make Joker a more legitimate threat opposite actors like Will Smith (playing Deadshot) and Jai Courtney (playing Boomerang).
On a recent episode of the Screen Rant Underground, the version of Joker seen in Frank Miller’s “All-Star Batman & Robin” was singled out, re-imagined as an even more twisted, tattooed, and sinewy villain (seen at the top of the article). That may be a little too much to hope for, but Ayer’s darker, grittier tastes imply that a ‘pretty’ Joker is definitely not his aim.
We’ll have to wait and see how Leto appears once filming begins, but to those who fear that too much experimentation or physical transformation can be a dangerous choice, the possibility of a ‘bulky’ Joker should also be weighed (pardon the pun). An overweight Joker hasn’t been seen either (Jack Nicholson’s larger frame the closest), but runs the risk of communicating the wrong kind of clown.
We would hope for a happy medium, at least: a Clown Prince who is imposing enough to terrorize the criminal underworld of Gotham City, but isn’t likely in possession of a gym membership. Even a strong Joker may crumple under Affleck’s seasoned Dark Knight – but if the pair’s feud has gone on just as long, some toughened skin would make sense (as seen with the larger Joker in Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns”).
What do you think of Leto’s plan to lose locks and add pounds? Would you be excited to hear that the actor is bulking up to stand opposite the likes of Will Smith or Ben Affleck, or does it seem too much of a departure from the comic source material? Share your thoughts, theories, and concerns in the comments below.
Jared Leto Art: TheFearMaster
Source: ET Online
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