When the first image of Jared Leto as The Joker hit the internet, said internet, in a popular colloquialism, broke. Fans loved it, fans hated it, critics wrote expansive think pieces supporting or decrying it, but one thing was for certain: it was a radically different take on the character than the previous film version (in The Dark Knight, for which actor Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar), and everyone was talking about it.
During a Suicide Squad set visit last summer, producers Richard Suckle and Andy Horowitz took Comicbook.com and select press on a tour through the world of the next DC Films production, and started us off in a room full of concept art and photos of each character. The Joker reveal was still fresh for us, then, having the visit shortly after Comic-Con, where we got our first in-action look at him. After noting that he's "not a member of the Suicide Squad," clearing up any confusion in that department once and for all, they talked about the character's unique look.
"I think we had to obviously do something different than people have seen before," Horowitz noted. In that regard, director David Ayer, Jared Leto, the producers, costume designer Kate Hawley, and tattoo artist Rob Coutts all worked extensively together to come up with the finished product that is The Joker in Suicide Squad. He has his signature pistol, other accessories with his Joker look on them, and then all those tattoos.
"Tattoos are obviously a big part of a good character, and the tattoo that you guys see down here," he said, pointing to the drawn-on smile on his hand (which the first released shot had on his forearm instead), "will be a very, very fun thing in the movie when he decides to put his hand in front of his face and create his iconic smile."
Suckle explained more about the tattoos, saying they are a "big part of the design of this character." There were "a number of different designs and ideas" for tattoos on a large board in the room, with tats designed for Joker, Harley, Diablo, and more characters in the film, all of which help to express the character. These were designed by local Toronto-area tattoo artist Rob Coutts, "who designed all those things and everything that you see on Jared," Suckle said. Ayer discovered Coutts while doing pre-prodcution for the film. "He was a real great addition and a real blessing for us to find. Tattoos play a role in a number of the characters, not just exclusive to Joker."
Other tattoos include those on Diablo, which are based off real gang tattoos to demonstrate his past, and Harley's which show her devotion to The Joker - though that devotion, it sounds, will be tested in this film.
Suicide Squad hits big screens August 5, 2016.