Greetings comic fans! Before I jump into it, I want to give a little disclaimer: Suicide Squad is not an awful movie. I wouldn’t say it’s a “great” movie, like some fanboys are saying. But it’s a pretty solid action film with some fun scenes. I do not regret spending money seeing it in theaters, and I’d recommend it to any comic/action film fan. Totally better than what critics are saying. With that being said, what wasn’t solid was Jared Leto’s absolutely horrible Joker. During the film I would start getting into it, then they’d break up the main story for a Joker scene, and at one point I literally groaned out loud while rolling my eyes. Nothing about this Joker was good. Some of the reasons aren’t Leto’s fault, while other reasons are. There will be a few spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie but plan to, you might want to hold off on reading this. Also, if you’re a fanboy, and I offend you with this- Feel free to leave your need for validation below.
First, let me tackle the elephant in the room- his appearance. When I first saw the sneak peak picture of Leto as Joker, I thought it was a joke from 4chan. I truly mean that. Why does Joker have prison tattoos of punchlines and phrases? He couldn’t have gotten them in prison as he’s always in solitary confinement, so he must have gotten them at a tattoo parlor… But, why? What is the point? They don’t do anything for the character. Unlike El Diablo where him having tattoos makes sense for the character, tattoos do absolutely nothing for Joker. In fact, the tattoos make him look ridiculous, and less menacing. Honestly, why do they exist? I can not for the life of me figure it out. Is it supposed to be “edgy”? The infamous one of the word “Damaged” on his forehead is the worst of all. This would be like Sinestro getting the word “Fear” tattooed on his forehead. It’s the type of thing that would get Joker to say: “That’s not funny.”
Then you have the Mr. T starter kit he has on, with the countless rings, and chains (don’t even get me started on the grills). Again, it looks ridiculous and is totally out of character. Joker is not materialistic at all. We all know the great scene from The Dark Knight when Joker lights all the money on fire. THAT is Joker. If that scene doesn’t drive the point home, how about the scene from The Mask of the Phantasm where Joker is completely disinterested in the millions of dollars the mob is offering for him to kill Batman? So yeah, money and flashy jewelry aren’t really Joker‘s thing. None of this makes any sense, and it’s baffling that these things got green-lit for the movie. But I’ll give credit where credit is due (what little credit there is to be had anyway), the actual outfits worn by him were pretty decent, and spot on. Even the silly purple trench coat is something Joker has worn. So, outfits- yes. Tattoos, and jewelry- no.
But not even the purple trench coat can make up for the writing. Like WOW, was it bad. May I ask why Joker was a jaded lover-like character this movie? His entire role revolved around his endless chase for Harely Quinn. He reminded me of Liam Neeson’s character from Taken. Since when did Joker truly give a damn about Harley Quinn? Oh that’s right, never! I would even go as far as saying that he detests her. He only keeps her around because she’s competent, and will do ANYTHING for him. Unquestioned loyalty goes a long way for Joker. Which makes her useful in the “I’m going to push you down so you get caught while I get away” sense. Or have her effectively distract Robin while he takes on Batman. There’s nothing loving, or caring about this relationship. The love is very much one-sided, and it all comes from Harley. In fact, Joker abuses her in the comics/shows while telling her constantly how much he doesn’t care about her.
The one scene that sticks out is the one where he’s sitting around the knives while his lackey explains to him that Harley was taken out of her cell. Joker is on the verge of crying when he hears this and lays down depressed. What… The… Hell… Joker, crying? Sad? Over Harley Quinn? …Who wrote this, and why? You cannot, I repeat- CANNOT take arguably the most volatile, and abusive relationship in all of fiction, then romanticize it like some pseudo Notebook/Twilight/50 Shades of Grey hybrid. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying show the Joker‘s abuse of Harley on screen, that won’t fly in 2016. But this is the equivalent of making a movie about child soldiers, and painting a pretty picture. You simply do not do that. Not only is that stupendously idiotic, but it’s borderline disgusting. Now some of you are probably saying “But Bryan, this isn’t Leto’s fault. It’s the writing/directing.” Counter argument: Leto said “Deep down Joker is a sweetheart.” The fact that he thinks that means he deserves at least some blame.
While these things aren’t fully Leto’s fault, want to know what is? His acting. This is the final “F**k you” cherry on top. All of this could have been forgiven, if his acting was even passable. Heath Ledger’s Joker was not a fully accurate representation of Joker, and a lot of comic purists weren’t a fan of his script. But he was still menacing, and his acting was fantastic. Ledger made the script work, and gave an Oscar performance. Leto on the other hand was not menacing at all. For someone who was “excited” for the role, he sure looked, and seemed bored. His laugh was so awful, it was almost as if he was doing it ironically, and out of spite. “Ha… Ha… Ha…” How you’re reading that is how he did it. Completely and utterly uninspired. The voice Leto used was a half-baked attempt to recreate Ledger’s voice. His attempt at sounding snarly ended up sounding nasally and full of lisps. He sounded more like a teenager whose braces were put on too tight than he did Joker (probably from those aforementioned grills). It’s a shame, because he could have made up for all the flaws that were out of his control. Instead, all he ended up doing was piling on. The rest of the film was pretty decent, but every aspect of Joker was one big swing and a miss.
If you liked this Joker, that’s fine, you can like whatever you want to like. But please don’t call yourself a fan of Joker, or his source material. Because this is one of biggest bastardizations of a character in film history. I thought Superman in Man of Steel was bad, but this takes the cake. It’s so far removed from what the character is supposed to be it’s baffling. Maybe the extended version will fix things a bit, but I doubt it. If you want to argue: “This is a different Joker. It’s not meant to follow the comic formula, it’s that simple. Deal with it.” That’s fine as well, you can feel that way. They should make a fat, nonathletic, and unintelligent Batman who wears all white while he skips around in broad daylight singing “You Are My Sunshine.” That way I can say: “This is a different Batman. It’s not meant to follow the comic formula, it’s that simple. Deal with it.”