For several years industry insiders had been reporting rumblings of Warner Bros. plans for a Suicide Squad spin-off - set within DC Entertainment's shared Justice League movie universe. While fans of the anti-hero team were always intrigued by the possibilities, moviegoers were mostly underwhelmed by the idea, especially in comparison to the prospect of seeing Batman V Superman (featuring Wonder Woman), assuming that the studio would produce the film with a modest budget centered on a cast of B-List DC characters. After all, Suicide Squad rumors were breaking at the same time that Sony was planning a villain team up of their own, Sinister Six - part of an ambitious shared universe plan that, arguably, hurt The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (and, subsequently, sunk the reboot franchise).
However, Warner Bros. drastically shifted expectations for Suicide Squad when they laid out a six year plan for the DC movie universe - announcing that David Ayer (director of Fury and End of Watch) would helm the antihero team-up. In the coming weeks, rumors indicated a new Joker was slated for appearance (possibly played by Academy Award winner Jared Leto), and that the studio was looking for other A-Listers to play the movie's villainous crew - which Warner Bros. openly confirmed a few months later to include Leto, Will Smith (as Deadshot), and Margot Robbie (playing Harley Quinn), among others. Since that time, we've heard veiled descriptions about Leto's Joker but a new rumor, if true, could give us our best explanation for the character's look and backstory (to date).
The latest Joker rumor comes courtesy of Latino Review's El Mayimbe - known for some impressive Marvel Studios scoops but, conversely, slightly less reliable with DC movie reporting. Still, while the site was duped by a fan-made Batman V Superman script, and spent months reporting based on the false info, they correctly called the casting of Viola Davis as Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad - a month before it was confirmed by the actress. For that reason, it's probable that someone close to DC is feeding the site accurate Suicide Squad info but, as with any unconfirmed rumor, it's worth taking the following Joker details with a grain of salt (for now).
That all said, here's what the site is hearing about Jared Leto's Joker - which, depending on how much you want to know about Suicide Squad could contain SPOILERS (as noted below).
Begin Potential Spoilers for Joker in Suicide Squad
You can read Latino Review's full description but we've collected the most interesting details:
- Leto's Joker is most definitely based on The Dark Knight Returns version.
- He's lean and scarred but his suit has broad shoulders.
- Joker works out in his cell like an inmate when he is interrogated by Amanda Waller. He's doing hand stand push ups so it makes sense that Jared Leto said he is putting on weight. He's definitely not skinny, but in fact more muscular.
- He has bleached skin not make up.
- He killed one of Batman's sidekicks - and there is a lot of references to his past crimes. He killed a lot of people.
- The Joker could also have a lot of scenes with Hugo Strange! He's the psychiatrist at the prison and seems to be a part of the story (though no casting yet).
- Hugo Strange has quite a few interactions with the Joker and Harley Quinn - one-on-one (without normal security).
Obviously, there's a lot to unpack here - assuming the information is accurate (and makes it into the final film).
Given that Warner Bros. is reintroducing Batman to the big screen with significant inspiration from Frank Millar's iteration of the character, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to hear that the studio will be looking to The Dark Knight Returns as a template for their new Joker. Lining up previous rumors and official info, specifically that Joker will be muscular and have a shorter haircut, it makes sense to hear that this version of the villain is lean and fit - akin to Miller's slim but still physically intimidating depiction.
After all, if Joker is an inmate during Suicide Squad, it would make complete sense that he spends part of his time working out - if for no other reason than to release tension (deprived of all that killing). Where Heath Ledger's Joker was a carefree anarchist (willing to burn stacks of money just to prove a point), Suicide Squad rumors continue to point toward a more direct adaptation of the comic book character - one that fits in the heightened reality that Man of Steel established: a clean-cut, calculating, and "majestic" Clown Prince of Crime.
Aside from his physical build, LR also indicates that Leto's Joker will have bleached skin (e.g., Jack Nicholson), rather than wear white makeup (Ledger), and will also be "scarred." For now, it's unclear if this scarring will be facial scarring (and explain the character's extra-wide smile) or more general body scarring that hints at the villain's lengthy history of criminal misadventures (specifically bullet and stab wounds).
It's certainly possible that Ayer will use elements of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Joker for ideas but if the director (and DC Entertainment shared universe planners) are looking to Miller's Joker as the outline for their big screen version, it's likely that the aforementioned scarring will be more subtle (and may only be visible in the aforementioned work out scene with Waller) - used to remind viewers that this iteration is an established serial killer that has gone toe-to-toe with Batman on multiple occasions, even managing to kill one of the Caped Crusader's allies (allegedly). That said, it's probably too early (in the character's movie run) for the scarring to be the result of The Dark Knight Returns' infamous batarang to Joker's eye moment.
Finally, this new round of hearsay also hints at a relatively large role for Doctor Hugo Strange (not to be confused with the Marvel hero Doctor Strange who will also be hitting theaters in 2016). According to the report Strange is the psychiatrist at Joker's prison - and might even be plotting with Joker and Harley (depending on how events actually unfold in the film). Whether or not Strange is instrumental in the film's core storyline (possibly undermining security measures to help Joker escape) or simply a convenient opportunity for shared universe world-building (interviewing/providing backstory on the Joker), the character would be a welcome addition.
In addition to his own experiments and criminal dealings, Strange has routinely been afforded interesting interactions with other Gotham villains in the comics - and could easily be an interesting mischief maker that weaves in and out of DC's shared movie universe. After all, who wouldn't want to see a conversation between two of Gotham's craziest, and most conniving, villains on screen together?
As indicated, nearly all of this info should be considered rumor - until official word comes down from the studio. Regardless, LR's latest info dump definitely includes some intriguing details that line up with prior reports - and, if genuine, paints an increasingly exciting picture of what David Ayer could be cooking up.
Suicide Squad will be in theaters on August 5, 2016.
Sources: Latino Review
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