Zack Snyder has released the first look at Jared Leto's newly-reimagined Joker in Zack Snyder's Justice League, ahead of the film's release next month. The image, which sees Leto reimagined in a style that recalls Grant Morrison's "Clown at Midnight" style for the character, also abandons the most controversial element of David Ayer's Joker from Suicide Squad: his tattoos. They're replaced, essentially, by cuts and scars, bringing the vibe more into line with Christopher Nolan's Joker from the Dark Knight Trilogy -- a role which won an Oscar for actor Heath Ledger -- especially with the long hair and messy red "smile."
The revelation that Leto would bring his Joker back for Zack Snyder's Justice League was a late, and surprising, revelation. According to Snyder, it was one of the only elements that he came to during reshoots, which were mostly designed to pick up shots he had always planned, but never had the opportunity to get before he had to leave the production of Justice League in 2017.
"The Joker is really the only thing that I thought of in retrospect," Snyder told Vanity Fair. "But I will say that it was always my intention to bring Joker into that world."
In-story, Leto's Joker will appear as part of the Knightmare sequence, Snyder confirmed with Vanity Fair. His presence will explain why, in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman had a Joker card on his gun. It will also carry a foreboding message, with Joker being Batman's guide into the dark world of what could happen to Earth if the League fails to stop the Knightmare from coming true.
"The cool thing about the scene is that it's Joker talking directly to Batman about Batman," Snyder explained. "It's Joker analyzing Batman about who he is and what he is. That’s the thing I also felt like fans deserved from the DC Universe. That is to say, the Jared Leto Joker and the Ben Affleck Batman, they never really got together. It seemed uncool to me that we would make it all the way through this incarnation of Batman and Joker without seeing them come together."
Snyder also reiterates something he has previously hinted at -- that a future Zack Snyder DC movie could have centered on the psychological relationship between Batman and The Joker, and the fallout from Joker's murder of Robin.
Snyder had completed an "assembly cut" of Justice League -- a rough cut of the film that's barely edited, but mostly just all the footage shot so far, strung together into an outrageously long version of the movie -- when his daughter passed away. Shortly after that, the film was taken over by Marvel's The Avengers director Joss Whedon, who slashed much of Snyder's content and replaced it with reshoots that clashed wildly with Snyder's footage in tone and look.
The resulting movie was a mess, and moviegoers and critics punished it for a lack of direction. While Snyder's grounded, violent approach to superhero movies had drawn criticism from some fans and underperformed relative to the massive expectations set by movies like The Dark Knight and The Avengers, they turned a modest profit and managed to get the next movie, and then the next, greenlit. The franchise effectively stopped dead with Justice League, which didn't make remotely close to its money back, and felt like a case of trying to please everyone, but compromising and instead pleasing no one.
The movie will get another shot with Zack Snyder's Justice League, which is expected to debut on HBO Max in March.