There is such a thing as being too high profile for a movie when it comes to certain characters, and while I could go on and on about how Jared Leto’s Joker was probably the cruelest joke ever played on the character, James Gunn made it pretty clear why he won’t be showing up in his version of the Suicide Squad. He’s too much of a distraction and he doesn’t fit in with the war-time feel of the movie. This makes a lot more sense than you might think since to be quite honest, the Joker is hardly a team player given that he’s usually off doing his own thing or wants to be the guy in charge. As crazy as he is, the Joker does have an ego that matches his insanity, and it doesn’t do well when he’s forced to follow orders and be a part of a unit. On top of that, the fact that Gunn took on so many different and lesser-known characters is another big reason why the Joker wouldn’t work, since he would overshadow the other characters in such a big way that it wouldn’t be worth the effort.
Gunn had a pretty solid plan walking into this movie and it didn’t involve the gangster version of the Joker waltzing around the periphery, trying to free Harley Quinn and generally make a nuisance of himself. In fact, his presence in the first Suicide Squad didn’t make any sense outside of Harley’s origin since he wasn’t really a part of the main story, as he hung around as part of a subplot to get Harley away from the squad. Apart from that he was off running his own little deal and was actually given too much time in the movie for the little good he did. The amusing part is that Leto actually got upset at the amount of time that was cut from his performance when the truth is that the Joker wasn’t a big part of the movie.
Quite honestly the best description of Leto’s Joker is that he represents the clown prince when he was a younger man that was just getting used to his own insanity and had yet to become the sophisticated nutcase that everyone would know and love. It would explain his need to be seen as a gangster and his manic behavior that didn’t make a lot of sense. Granted, a lot of people have a different take on the Joker since he’s a fictional character and this is bound to happen. But when it comes to the cinematic versions, Heath Ledger has to be placed at the top in terms of effectiveness, and then Jack Nicholson would follow close behind since he also embodied the nature of the Joker. Leto would be a distant entry on the list since other individuals, including Mark Hamill’s voice, would be placed well above him. In a big way, Leto’s Joker sounds like what might happen if one were to cross villain with a 1920s-era mobster, complete with a Tommy gun to round out the look. The thing is that Leto pushed the character in a way that others didn’t, but he kind of veered off into creepyville instead of crazy-town.
There were plenty of people that liked Leto’s version, somehow, but guaranteed the character wouldn’t fit in when it comes to the new Suicide Squad movie since this isn’t the type of movie that one would expect to see a gangster in, and it does feel that Joker would be in the way and out of his element. That feels funny to say since the character is usually able to adapt to anywhere he finds himself, but it’s true that he’s rarely, if ever, found in a war zone where it’s run, fight, or die. Joker is a mastermind that sits behind the scenes or out on the stage, taunting people before he unveils his bags of tricks. This wouldn’t be the right setting for that since it would be awkward as hell to think that the Joker might be able to survive in such a situation. Other, tougher characters that are more about upfront combat and going toe to toe with their opponents are needed for this kind of thing.
It’s uncertain when we’re going to see the Joker again or if it will be Leto putting on the makeup again, but it will obviously be a long wait to see the clown prince once again. Even when he does show up it’s not bound to be in the same manner, since it could happen that Robert Pattinson’s Batman movie will take off like a rocket and they might be in need of a Joker eventually. That would be another chance, but one could only hope that the casting department would find someone else, someone better.