DC Comics and Warner Bros.' Suicide Squad movie has got a lot of people's attention in a short amount of time. Besides being the next chapter in the DC Movie Universe (following the Batman V Superman team-up film), Suicide Squad will also be the first major supervillain movie, in addition to being the first ever supervillain team-up movie.
However, the thing that has gotten mainstream viewers interested in this film by Fury director David Ayer is how it will serve as a platform to launch (or re-launch) iconic DC characters like Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Deadshot (Will Smith), Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) - and of course, the new Joker (Jared Leto).
Leto's Joker has been of particular interest during this unfolding production on Suicide Squad. The filmmakers (and the actor himself) have all referred to this new take on The Joker as being "Majestic" or "a beautiful disaster," but that's all very vague without proper contextualization. What we've heard rumored is that this version of the Joker will be older, with scars from years of battling Batman, and that he will be a "Hannibal Lecter" of the film, waging sick mind games from inside his prison cell.
Then there's what we've seen. In recent days, director David Ayer teased Jared Leto's physical transformation into the Joker, but that pretty much consisted of threatening to cut off the long hair the actor was seen sporting as recently as the 2015 Oscars ceremony. Today we see the further evolution of Leto's transformation, and it raises some interesting questions:
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) March 2, 2015
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) March 2, 2015
The first thing that hardcore cinephiles are likely to notice is that Leto's hairstyle and general appearance looks awfully close to his character "Angel Face" from Fight Club. But that still begs the question: How does the actor's appearance relate to the Joker we'll see in Suicide Squad?
In recent weeks, we've tried to pull together all we've seen and heard about the new Joker in order to gain some perspective on this new interpretation of the character - but the final picture remains unclear. On the one hand, the new Batman (Ben Affleck) that we'll see in Batman V Superman is clearly influenced by a version of the character from Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns (older, semi-retired, suit of armor); it would follow that Leto's Joker follows suit and draws influence from the same source material.
For those who don't know, The Dark Knight Returns took place in a near future where an older Bruce Wayne retired from being Batman - only to take up the cape and cowl again when a younger and more ruthless gang of criminals takes over Gotham. The third chapter in the four-part story features The Joker coming out of a prolonged catatonic state upon learning that Batman is active again. As a proper "comeback," Joker stages a wave of mass murder of men, women and children, until Batman nearly breaks his one vow and almost kills Joker in cold blood (before the Joker snaps his own neck instead).
The important thing about Miller's Joker in Dark Knight Returns is his departure in appearance and attitude from those versions that came before (or arguably after). The Dark Knight Returns Joker was older, more poised, more effeminate, and was illustrated as much stockier and broad-shouldered than the traditionally slim depiction of the character.
Even later, when Miller returned to chronicle Batman and Robin's early partnership in All-Star Batman & Robin, his narrative (and artist Jim Lee's visuals) painted The Joker as a serial killer with extensive body tattooing and a weightlifter's physique. Again, a far cry from the twiggy depiction of the character most people are familiar with.
Recently it was said that Leto has been bulking up for his role as The Joker - which led hardcore fans to speculate that the Frank Miller version(s) of the villain will indeed be inspiration for Leto, while causal fans simply seem confused at the thought of The Joker having muscles. From the hairstyle in the photos above, it seems increasingly likely that one (or a composite of both) of Frank Miller's Jokers from TDKR and ASB&R could be forming the basis of Leto's performance.
But that's only the basis: As we learned with Heath Ledger, sometimes the best results come from the actor making the character truly his own. Until we see more, let the debate about a possible blonde-haired Joker rage in the comments section. [UPDATE: Keep in mind though: as a number of our readers have pointed out, Leto probably dyed his dark hair blonde so that it can be properly colored green in the future.]
Suicide Squad will be in theaters on August 5, 2016.
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