So now that the picture of Jared Leto as the Joker has been out long enough for the internet to pile mountains of hate and bile on him and everyone else involved with the production of Suicide Squad, as the internet is want to do, I thought we could finally sit down and have a nice discussion on why they’re all wrong.
I mean there is so much bile that even the universally loved Ben Affleck got splashed with some of it.
Sexy Affleck pic not-withstanding, let’s really take a look at the new Joker and the ones that came before him to understand the pointlessness of arguing over the next incarnation of the Joker.
So let’s start from the classics. The first incarnation of the Joker that I remember is the version from the Batman animated series from our childhood.
Voiced by the incomparably talented Mark “Skywalker” Hamill, this is still my favorite version of the Joker. Animated though he may have been, Hamill’s voice acting infused him with this malicious joyfulness that was just creepy enough to give you goosebumps during the more darker and heinous plots he conceived. But during other episodes, where he was just being himself and going around causing mayhem and destruction around Gotham, you could really feel that he really didn’t have any sort of plan; that all he wanted to do was cause chaos for no reason other than that it made him happy and brought a smile to his face. And at the end of the day isn’t that what we all want: to laugh and sing and dance as we wreak shit up.
Aside from the voice work, the design of the character was also something that stood out. It reminds a bit of the old Jack Nicholson (more on that madman in a bit) incarnation. He used dress and, to a certain degree, move like an old school gangster, what with the tailcoat or the occasional overcoat and fedora. But it was the face and posture that really sold it. Just look at those menacing yellow eyes and the wide red-lipped smile.
Just look at him; just the way he stands let’s you know that you do not want to be joking around this man..or do you?
But it was also a very classic looking Joker. The design is very reminiscent of the old comic books with the purple suit and green hair, all very meticulous for a man as chaotic as him.
Now let’s move on to the live action versions, starting with the man himself: Jack Nicholson.
Honestly I don’t have a lot to say here. Casting a man whose sanity is only guessable at most of the time, was a brilliant casting move and he did fit the mould. Wacky and over the top with his presentation, while still maintaining the dark tone of the movie and being genuinely creepy and unnerving at the same time. With a classic Joker suit and smile, he was probably the most accurate portrayal of the Joker I have seen to date.
But then came a director with a very unique style and presentation who wanted to take the franchise in a different and very realistic direction. Or as realistic as you can get with a story whose protagonist jumps around the city in a rubber outfit.
People were not very appreciative of that if memory serves. Hell, I hated the first movie and decided that I would not watch it. I mean seriously, Batman driving around a frikkin tank? No thank you.
But I warmed up to it after my first viewing and thought that the redesign actually worked very well with the world Nolan had made. So I was really excited for the sequel.
Until I heard that the Joker was going to be played by this pretty boy:
Yeah the guy from Cassanova, Brokeback, Knight’s Tale and 10 Things I Hate About You is going to take the mantle of portraying the very image of an insane maniac from a man who might actually be insane.
Good luck with that.
And I wasn’t alone in thinking that. Oh, no. Most of you might have forgotten that everyone laughed it off and immediately declared that they would not watch the movie.
I know. I had forgotten that little bit of information as well.
But we all remember how that ended up.
You see had all been so enraged and fanboyish that we had forgotten that he was a very talented and hard working actor. Something everyone seems to agree on now that he has passed on.
So now we come to Jared Leto.
And back to same argument. But with one vital difference: their previous acting jobs. You see, if you go through Ledger’s work before The Dark Knight, beyond the ones I mentioned above, most it wasn’t very good or memorable. I mean how many of you actually remember a Knight’s Tale or actually saw Brokeback.
No, his role as the Joker seemed to be the one that cemented his reputation. Unfortunately, he only did one other movie after that. Yes, TDK was not actually his last movie. That honour goes goes to Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Something not a lot of people have seen but should.
Now let’s see what all movies Leto has been in shall we?
Hmmm…American Psycho, Requiem for a Dream, Fight Club, Lord of War, Panic Room, The Thin Red Line, Dallas Buyer’s Club. Notice the difference?
While Ledger was not a bad or mediocre actor by any stretch, just looking at Leto’s filmography is enough to know that he is not a man to take his job lightly.
Oh no friends.
Ledger’s method of getting into character for the Joker is very well documented. He was a method actor and stayed in character for the entire time he was filming.
Know another actor who does that?
Yeah. Jared Leto. He played a trans-gendered person in Dallas Buyers Club. And for the entire duration of filming he refused to break character. The character of a transgendered woman. Chew on that.
“But psycho, we don’t care who’s playing this version of the Joker. We just hate this version of the Joker. The Joker doesn’t have tattoos or bling. That totally wrong.”
Is it anymore wrong than the Joker being the one who killed Wayne’s parents and having an actual name and backstory? Or that he actually wore face paint instead of a having his skin and hair actually be white and green?
If that’s the case, then your problem seems to that of being an entitled fanboy. Because we actually have no idea about the character beyond the base personality that all incarnations of the Clown Prince of Crime share. You don’t know the world he inhabits or anything else about him.
People forget that the radical redesign that Nolan brought to his version of the The Ace of Knaves worked because it fit into the world he created. And from what I’ve seen of Suicide Squad, this version of the Joker does fit into that world. A bright colorful appearance that hides underneath it a deep dark and twisted persona.
Yeah that sounds awesome.
I, for one, am pumped and excited to see what they do with this version.
On the flip side, if they screw this up, I will be first in line to Tyler Durden the WB offices. But I have faith that at least puddin’ won’t let me down.