James Gunn won't be clowning around with the Joker. The Suicide Squad director benched Suicide Squad's Joker (Jared Leto) when recruiting a new squad of expendable supervillains under the thumb of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), including Bloodsport (Idris Elba) and the Joker's emancipated ex Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). In a new interview, the writer-director behind The Suicide Squad and the upcoming HBO Max spinoff Peacemaker reveals why he's uninterested in another adaptation of the Joker and more interested in super-zeroes like King Shark (voice of Sylvester Stallone) and Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian).
"There's all sorts of other characters I'm interested in doing. Joker isn't really one of them," Gunn told Desde Hollywood. "He's been done well so many times by so many people. I am much more interested in taking characters who haven't fully had their shot, or people who I [connect with]."
That includes Harley Quinn, who makes only her third live-action appearance in a feature film after 2016's Suicide Squad and 2020's Birds of Prey.
"For whatever reason, I feel connected to Harley Quinn. I feel she's one of the easiest characters I've ever written," the Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker said. "So I'm interested in her, and I'm interested in some other DC characters, and we'll just see what happens next."
Explaining why he didn't conscript Leto's Joker for Task Force X's mission to Corto Maltese, Gunn told The New York Times over the summer, "I just don't know why Joker would be in the Suicide Squad. He wouldn't be helpful in that type of war situation."
Along with Robbie's Quinn and Davis's Waller, Gunn instead tapped Suicide Squad's returning Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) for one last suicide mission in The Suicide Squad. Where director David Ayer's film used the Joker as a wild card tossed in the mix during Task Force X's mission to eliminate Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), Gunn opted to assemble a misfit crew of lesser-known costumed criminals like Peacemaker (John Cena) and Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior).
Leto has so far reprised his Suicide Squad role only once, appearing again opposite the DC Extended Universe's Batman (Ben Affleck) in Zack Snyder's Justice League. Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix won Oscars for playing the character in 2019's Joker and 2008's The Dark Knight, respectively, following Cesar Romero and Jack Nicholson's turns as the character in live-action.
Gunn previously teased he isn't finished with the DC "villain-verse" after The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, telling Entertainment Tonight about a return to the DCEU: "I have all sorts of ideas, and we talk about it all the time."
The Suicide Squad is now available to own digitally and on 4K UHD.