If Looks Could Kill: Why Jared Leto’s Joker could be the best yet
By now, you’ve all seen the picture of Jared Leto as the Joker. “Suicide Squad” director David Ayer released the first official image over the weekend in honor of the Joker’s 75th anniversary. Suffice it to say, the response has been mixed, but one thing is certain: this is a Joker the likes of which we have never seen before.
Fans immediately started comparing Leto’s Joker to past on-screen incarnations; from Jack Nicholson’s gangster Joker to Heath Ledger’s iconic anarchist. While those Jokers were legendary in their own right, I believe Leto’s Joker has a chance to be the best on-screen interpretation yet. Here’s why.
A True Psychopath
Take a look at this picture.
That right there is the look of a true psychopathic killer. There’s no getting around it, which is what separates Leto’s Joker from his predecessors. In “Batman”, Nicholson’s Joker was crazy, but he had a suave, charismatic side to him. In “The Dark Knight” we saw Heath Ledger take the Joker to a new level. His performance was transcendent, but the character himself wasn’t a complete psychopath. Ledger’s Joker killed with purpose; each death significant and part of the grander plan. He was an anarchist hellbent on exposing the inadequacies of societal law. As he said, “I’m not a monster, I’m just ahead of the curve.”
With Leto’s Joker, we may finally have our first true monster. This Joker looks unhinged; a figure that haunts the nightmares of Gotham’s citizens. Leto’s Joker may have a master plan, but overall he is someone who enjoys killing for the hell of it. It’s a sport to him. He would be just as happy blowing up a hospital as he would cutting open an old person to see if they were filled with dust. Killing isn’t a means to an end for this Joker. It’s just a way to have his cake and eat it, too. What’s more, a psychopath like this wouldn’t have a problem killing a teenager (a.k.a. Jason Todd’s Robin). Could that be a Robin tattoo on his right bicep symbolizing the murder? Wouldn’t be surprising.
The Face of a New Generation
One of the main things that caught people off guard about Leto’s Joker was the amount of tattoos he had on his body. Keep in mind, these are only the ones we can see. It’s also important to note that Leto’s Joker is likely going to be wearing a white suit for most of the movie, like the Joker in “The Dark Knight Returns.”
Ayer probably released an image of a shirtless Joker so we could see the intricate details of his tattoos. In the film, we’ll likely get a scene or two of a shirtless Joker, but with frame cuts we probably won’t be able to examine them as well as we can with a still photograph.
And while some may hate this new, updated look, I for one not only think it is great, but also necessary. Nicholson and Ledger both shared a similar look when it came to wardrobe: purple jackets, pants and vests that conveyed the classic look we’ve seen for years in the comics. But Leto’s Joker is different. He has the look and feel of a rockstar, hipster meth addict.
Let’s face it, if the Joker were alive in today’s world, the traditional look would be old and outdated. Yes, Ledger’s Joker pulled it off, but it was a part of his overall getup, which included Joker makeup.
Leto’s Joker looks believable in terms of his appearance. The tattoos and grilled teeth don’t look crazy or out of place. If we saw this guy walking around an Insane Clown Posse concert we’d think nothing of it. Plus, Leto is a rockstar with his band Thirty Seconds to Mars. The guy knows how to play to a crowd and get them going, and odds are this Joker has the same qualities, too. After all, he was able to nab a hot groupie in Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. The look of this Joker is real, modern and downright creepy.
Universe of Madness
It’s no secret that DC and Warner Bros. are trying to emulate what Marvel Studios has done with “The Avengers”. With “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” coming out a few months before “Suicide Squad”, DC is hoping to establish a shared universe that can live on for years to come. The only way to successfully do that is to create characters that leave us wanting more each time we see them. That means having their most popular heroes and villains popping up in solo films as well as team-up flicks like “Suicide Squad” and “Justice League”.
If all goes well with “Batman v Superman” and “Suicide Squad” we could potentially see a solo Batman flick down the line that involves both Affleck and Leto, meaning it would be the first time an actor portrayed the Joker more than once on the big screen. DC wouldn’t have cast an actor like Leto for a quick one-and-done spot. They want someone who can give this character lasting life and have him be a mainstay in the DC Universe. Remember, Ryan Gosling was reportedly interested in the Joker role, but didn’t want to sign on for more than one film. It’s clear that the Joker is going to be around for a while, meaning he won’t be as one-dimensional as some people think.
So even though we are probably still months away from seeing any actual footage of Leto as the Joker, you have to be excited (or at least intrigued) by the new direction this character seems to be taking. Gone are the traditional garb and conventional look, but remember, it’s all about the performance, and you have to believe that Leto knows what he’s doing.
Colin J. Liotta is the co-founder and Editor-in-chief of The Sports Hero. You can follow him on Twitter @TheSportsHero.