Is Jared Leto's Joker Right for the DCEU?

The DC Extended Universe is no stranger to controversy. From the moment that Warner Bros. and DC [...]

Jared Leto Joker DCEU Movies
(Photo: Warner Bros. )

The DC Extended Universe is no stranger to controversy. From the moment that Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment decided to make a go at a shared universe like rival Marvel Studios, there was fan uproar about how to do it (connect it to Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy or start fresh?); what movies to release (solo films or team up events first?); and who was involved (Zack Snyder, Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor, etc...). When it came to Suicide Squad, there was a big casting announcement that sparked mainstream interest: Jared Leto was playing The Joker in the DCEU.

Initial hope that an actor like Leto could own the role quickly soured when the first photo of him in costume was released. Made over with modern gangland influences like extensive body tattoos and silver teeth, Leto's Joker sparked mockery and endless memes before a single frame of the movie was ever seen. With Suicide Squad now in theaters, the DCEU tradition of intense divisiveness has continued, and Leto's Joker has been an easy lightning rod for a lot of the hate.

So, with the most iconic DC villain of all currently occupying tenuous place in the minds of fans, we feel it's time to ask: Is Jared Leto's Joker Right for the DCEU?

Have We Seen Enough?


Before we get into breaking down Leto's concept of and performance as The Joker in Suicide Squad, we have to ask this initial question: Have we even seen enough to make a fair assessment?

Some of the biggest uproar currently surrounding Suicide Squad is the fact that Leto's Joker wasn't in it as much as advertising suggested; one fan went far enough as to sue WB over that fact. Leto himself has been increasingly vocal (and seemingly agitated) about fact that his performance was drastically cut down for the theatrical release of the film, which basically means there's potential a whole Joker character arc that we never saw. So can we really make a judgement about how good or not he is for the DCEU's future?

...Of course we can. This is the Internet! Sensible judgement has no place here!

Dissecting Mr. J


So who is Jared Leto's version of The Joker?

If Jack Nicholson's Joker was a flamboyant psycho, and Heath Ledger's Joker was nihilistic psycho, Leto's Joker is probably best described as being animalistic psycho. He lumbers through most scenes like a stalking wolf, and there's definitely an animal nature to his obsession and possessiveness of his mate, Harley Quinn.

Even Joker's... er, "fighting methods" in the film are pretty beastly: he basically mows over anyone in his way with crazy amounts of machine gun fire until they aren't in his way anymore. There's a cold, efficient savagery to him that may make certain hardcore DC fans understandably upset. After all, Joker is supposed to have a sort of flare for theatricality that Leto is arugably missing in Suicide Squad.

From the other side of he spectrum, it could be argued that Leto - with his grinning red hand tattoo masking his face coyly, or his intricate arrangement of knives and Caesar Romero moustache - had a much more sly and ironic sense of humor than his onscreen predecessors. It could also be argued that we (again) simply haven't seen enough of him in the role yet. In Suicide Squad, his ruthless efficiency has a purpose: he wants Harley Quinn back and will destroy anyone or thing that gets in his way. Simple.

Suicide Squad Joker Deleted Scenes
(Photo: Warner Bros., DC Entertainment)

The club scene with Joker, Harley, and Common (as "tattooed Common") hinted at more of a twisted 'cat with mouse in paws' playfulness to Joker - as well as his fractured psychosis. Given his penchant for overkill, strategic cunning and total fearlessness - yeah, this Joker could definitely be a threat in a full DCEU world, whether his foes are alien, metahuman, mystical - whatever. If it's Superman, this Joker would probably have a Kryptonite grenade - and use it without blinking twice. With a laugh. I'd believe it.

...But giving consideration to those who don't like Leto's version of the character: Yeah, it would be kind of weird seeing an LA gangster going toe-to-toe with Superman or the Justice League - at least without proving himself more as a mastermind villain. Leaving us with the central question:

Is Leto the Right Joker for the DCEU?

Joker Batman

So far, I'd personally say that we simply haven't seen enough of the character first-hand to say whether or not he's the right Joker for the larger DCEU universe, but his presence has certainly been felt.

There's plenty of history between Joker and Batman that's been established, with it recently being firmly confirmed that Joker killed Robin (Jason Todd), resulting in the graffiti-covered costume seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Since there is every possibility that Leto's Joker could be a big part of Ben Affleck's Batman solo movie, it seems as though the character has been purposefully positioned for a big future in the DCEU.

Batman Joker Death of Robin DCEU
(Photo: Warner Bros. , DC Entertainment)

Like with any shared universe character or property, though, this is an evolving thing. With Joker and Harley Quinn reunited and back on the loose at the end of Suicide Squad - and DCEU shepherd Geoff Johns now committed to moving things back toward the core values of the source material - there's every chance that fans upset with the initial impression of Leto's Joker could soon get the sort of twisted couple antics they loved on Batman: The Animated Series.

That's all to say: it's probably a wait and hope scenario, like everything else in the DCEU right now. But what's your take on all this?

Suicide Squad is now in theaters; Wonder Woman is coming on June 2, 2017; followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.