Zach Snyder Brings Back Leto’s Much-maligned Incarnation of the Evil Clown Have critics always been wrong?
Superhero fans finally have a lot to smile about One of comic book’s greatest villains of recent years returns to screen The Joker, it has been announced, will feature in the 70 million redesign Justice League’s Zack Snyder dollars, where he’ll get tangled up with Ben Affleck’s father, Batman
There is one minor issue The Joker in question is not the one played to the Oscar-winning effect by Joaquin Phoenix in 2019 It will be the Joker played by Jared Leto in Suicide Squad 2016 The creepy sneer with the tattooed forehead, the slicked back green hair, metal capped teeth and a hoarse laugh that’s really more dastardly wheezing
A quick glance reveals that the internet has not reacted favorably But – for the first time in history! – The internet is wrong No one would deny that Suicide Squad was a calamity, fully deserving its 27% Rotten Tomatoes rating It was a deafening, inconsistent mess – Gloves Down, the most painful superhero movie of the past decade This which is quite a hit, given the competition from X-Men: Dark Phoenix or Snyder’s own parody Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
And yet, hidden within that schlocky souffle was Leto’s original and compelling version of the Joker.His insight was to see the character not as a madman who also happened to be a villain, but as a truly malicious figure to full part In doing so, he’s challenged decades of onscreen Jokers, from Cesar Romero’s Hugh Hefner-esque creation in the Sixties Batman TV series to “Why So Serious?” By Heath Ledger version in The Dark Knight Not to mention Jack Nicholson as the human equivalent of an electroshock buzzer in the 1989 Tim Burton film
All of these Jokers were a lot of fun Ledger’s, in particular, was one of the fiercest antagonists in comic book movie history Yet they were, at first, menacing clowns That made them variations on a theme – a theme to which was applied, last year, a 1970s New York City sliver of misery by Phoenix in Todd Phillips’ Joker
These Jokers lit up the screen like a gas bomb thrown through a funhouse window But they were ultimately a bag of oddities and gimmicks Leto, to his credit, saw the Joker as something else He’s in Suicide Squad for barely 10 minutes, but he establishes the Joker as a figure with whom it is better not to play trifle
There is insanity, of course Leto chuckles maniacally, for example, as he finds himself in the center of a circle of knives upon learning that his beloved Harley Quinn has been banged, but he also excels. as a heavy gangland, as seen when he tortures a security guard
It’s that rare Joker with an internal life, which goes beyond Batman’s ravings, ranting and obsession One of the emotional threads that run through Suicide Squad is his abusive relationship with Margot’s Harley Quinn Robbie He’s the manipulator, she the victim; it’s no sweet romance But Leto makes you believe the Joker could be a passionate person, and not just a cardboard opponent for Batman. He could live happily enough in a Bat-less Gotham
So why did the news of his return to the Justice League « Snyder Cut » fall like a whoopee pillow when reading a will? Suicide Squad being unassailable confusion as already pointed out didn’t help But the real black mark against Leto’s Joker is likely related to the actor’s weird off-screen behavior during the making of this film, including his attempt of « acting method » throughout the production by sending her co-stars a series of horrific gifts
At the time, it was about used condoms, dead rats, dead pigs and pornographic magazines « He did bad things, Jared Leto did He gave really horrible gifts, » co-star Viola Davis confirmed to Vanity Fair
Davis was one of the many cast members who were not amused by Leto’s behavior. « He had a henchman come into the rehearsal room, and the henchman came in with a dead pig and the ‘dropped on the table, then he walked out And that was our introduction to Jared Leto «
The antics scared even Will Smith (leader of the Suicide Squad Deadshot) It was an unlikely turn of events After facing a steampunk Kenneth Branagh in Wild Wild West, Smith should have been way beyond feeling shocked about a movie set
“First we found out that Jared wasn’t going to be in rehearsal,” Smith told MTV. “And we were like,‘ This is screwed up! How is he not going to be in rehearsal? « And then there was a bag on the door, and this guy barges in and throws a dead pig on the ground in front of us »
Suicide Squad director David Ayer didn’t see the fun side This may explain Leto’s waste of screen time This 10-minute total left viewers in awe – the film’s marketing campaign had portrayed Leto as the main villain The real villain, in the event, was Enchantress, played by Cara Delevingne as a sort of apocalyptic belly dancer.
Ayer has often been asked about the removal of Leto’s scenes. « Just because something is cool and charismatic, » the director told Collider, « doesn’t mean he’ll survive in the final cut The flow of the film is the greatest master «
Leto may have felt he had crossed a line After the film was released, he began to recall his previous bragging about putting on used condoms (a violation of health and safety rules , as much as anything else)
« There were some things that were mentioned about freebies and about giving people used condoms which was not true, » he told Entertainment Weekly (The Condom Reference, he was widely noted, was a reference he himself had brought up in filmed interviews)
“Some of the things you do,” he continued, “can go viral or be criticized. Especially with the Joker, some of this stuff just took a life of its own And most of it was total bulls – t «
Leto, according to contemporary accounts, was devastated that the Joker was reduced to a small player and that Warner Brothers lit a separate Joker movie green, starring Joaquin Phoenix As a Hollywood Reporter article put it of 2019: « Leto’s frustration that Warner Bros. moving forward with Project Phillips was so great early on that he tried to strangle rival Joker in his cradle
« According to sources familiar with Leto’s behavior, when the Oscar-winning actor learned of Project Phillips’ existence, he not only complained bitterly to his CAA agents, who also represent Phillips, but asked to its musical director, Irving Azoff, to call the head of the parent company of Warner Bros «
Leto’s only significant role since Suicide Squad was in Blade Runner 2049 But now he and his Joker have a second chance thanks to Snyder’s Justice League, which also stars Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller
Snyder was forced to hand over the reins of the Justice League in May 2017; Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon dropped in and recalibrated the movie as something fun and knowing (a vibe similar to his two Avengers movies)
The vision Snyder had for Justice League was much darker And although the Joker was not in the original script, Warner and DC are going full out on the « Snyder Cut », which will be released in September 2021 on the service American streaming HBO Max
It’s a redemption chance for a divisive director But more so for Leto, whom the Joker deserves better than to remember as a gag without a punchline If he and Snyder deliver, he might just have the last laugh
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Justice League, Jared Leto, Joker, Zack Snyder, Suicide Squad
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