The surprise announcement of a solo movie starring Jared Leto's version of the Joker raises a lot of questions about where the clown prince of crime's film fits into the DC Extended Universe. Leto first took on the role in 2016's Suicide Squad, which was a huge financial success, but received middling reviews and was just as polarizing as the other non-Wonder Woman DCEU entries. No aspect of the film was as divisive as Leto's Joker; taking up the mantle of Batman's greatest enemy after the late Heath Ledger was never going to be an easy task, but introducing him as a fairly minor presence in Suicide Squad was a baffling choice. The Joker really didn't even have a purpose in the main Enchantress plot, but was there to serve Harley Quinn's (Margot Robbie) character development, largely through flashbacks. Harley ended up being Suicide Squad's breakout character, and most proposed plans for the DCEU Joker's future are tied to her.
News that an unrelated, Martin Scorsese produced Joker solo film - which may star Joaquin Phoenix - was in development only muddied the waters further. Development on Leto's own solo movie at least shows that Warner Bros. believes in that version of the character and are looking to expand on it in some unconventional ways, but what exactly are those ways? The DCEU is in a state of creative flux at the moment, with more films in development than seemingly could ever really be produced, and some obviously contradicting the existence of others. We're attempting to look at the Joker film through that lens, and answer how it may end up fitting into the larger framework of DC's ever changing shared cinematic universe.
- This Page: Batman and Harley Quinn
- Page 2: Suicide Squad 2 and The Batman Movie
Will Batman Be In It?
There are a lot of unusual aspects to the DCEU, but perhaps the most unconventional choice was to begin it with a version of Batman who's already been fighting crime in Gotham for 20 years, making Batman something of a superhero senior citizen compared to the other, more conventionally aged DC heroes. We don't know a lot of specific details about this Batman's past, but we do know he's tangled with the Joker plenty of times - and a graffitied Robin costume in a display case in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice suggests the two have already gone through some of the darker chapters of their storied comic book rivalry. And yet the pair haven't really had an onscreen encounter yet; Batman intercepts the Joker and Harley at the beginning of Suicide Squad, but the Joker escapes before there's any real interaction between the two.
It seems highly unlikely that first confrontation would take place in a Joker solo film. At the moment, it's not even a sure thing who will be playing Batman when next we see him - though the rumor mill suggests Ben Affleck is currently leaning towards returning to the role. If Batman were to play any significant role in the film, it essentially becomes a Batman movie instead of a Joker movie. The ostensible point of a Joker solo film would be exploring the character in a new way, unmoored from the usual tropes and characters he works with. Adding Batman to that equation would make the movie pointless.
Is Harley Quinn In It?
Suicide Squad made Harley Quinn a household name. Robbie's dynamic performance as the Joker's lover/sidekick was one of the few things about the movie most people could agree on. Considering the Joker really doesn't have any sort of established supporting cast of his own beyond Harley, it would be easy to assume she'd play a role in his solo film.
But this a case where the ballooning slate of DCEU films in development would seem to undercut common sense. Not only is Harley already slated to be in Suicide Squad 2, Birds of Prey, and Gotham City Sirens, she's supposedly supposed to star alongside her beloved puddin' in a separate Joker vs. Harley film. By all accounts, the Joker solo film is not the Joker/Harley film, so unless that project has fallen through - and we've had no indications it has - Harley showing up for the Joker's independent outing wouldn't make much sense.