The Return of the Joker Is Jared Leto's Greatest Miracle Yet. But Can He Be Redeemed?
Up until today, Jared Leto’s greatest achievement was probably his flagrant disregard for the human aging process. Convincing people to pay $2,000 for a “tree huggin’” retreat based on the teachings of 30 Seconds to Mars came a close second, and becoming the last man on Earth to hear about Covid-19 was up there too. But rest assured, this bombshell blows all of those miracles out of the water.
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Jared Leto has willed the Joker—his Joker, the one with the forehead tattoo and bad attitude – back into existence. The Hollywood Reporter reports that the Suicide Squad character, who has been dropped from the franchise following sub-par reviews for the first film, will be turning up in Zach Snyder’s long-awaited Justice League: Snyder Cut. The news comes not long after the one-year anniversary of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, the film that reportedly placed Leto and Warner Bros at loggerheads.
Leto had reason to be upset. According to, again, The Hollywood Reporter, the actor was promised a stand-alone Joker film by studio heads, even as damning reviews of Suicide Squad continued to roll in (“I think it would be incredible to see Batman and the Joker go head-to-head!” he told the Toronto Sun in 2016, “I could easily just play the Joker a couple more times and then retire, because it’s so fulfilling and so creative and it’s so imaginative.”) So a source revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that Leto felt "alienated and upset" by the subsequent green-lighting of Todd Philips grittier, less cartoon-ish take on the villain, and the 48-year-old’s camp were forced to deny reports that he tried to get Warner to kill the film. Regardless, it felt like the final spiky stud in the character’s crocodile skin coffin. The news that he’ll be shooting scenes for Snyder’s re-edit, alongside Ben Affleck, Ray Fisher, and Amber Heard, has come as a shock to most.
But not us. Not really. The truth is that the Suicide Squad’s Joker was dragged down by a lot of things—the actor’s deeply annoying habit of mailing live rats to his cast-mates; a litany of cringeworthy tattoos; a clunky script lifted straight from an office coffee mug (“If you weren’t so crazy, I’d think you were insane!” etc), and the general awfulness of the film itself—but Leto’s acting talent shouldn’t be called into question. He wasn't even in it very much.
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With a better script, the right director, and a strict ban on that weird snarling thing he did, there may be hope for this character yet. And who knows—maybe Leto's gaudy, over-the-top take will serve as a much-needed antidote to the glut of miserable, self-serious Joker wannabes we're set to see over the next few years (although we are looking forward to Ken Loach's take on The Green Goblin). On the proviso that he can resist FedExing a megabat to Ben Affleck's house, Jared Leto could end up proving us all wrong.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.