Fan and media excitement is definitely in full swing regarding several upcoming DC Extended Universe (DCEU) releases, including Ben Affleck's solo #Batman movie, The Batman, and Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn film. In addition to these two highly anticipated projects, we do still have upcoming #DCEU releases of Wonder Woman, Justice League, Aquaman and The Flash — just to name a few.
Naturally, along with all of these releases comes a significant amount of rumors coming from both fans and media outlets. Whether you're reading things on Twitter or (often) credible online media sources, it is important to remember that everything regarding these upcoming releases is not confirmed and should be treated as speculation. However, Mark Hughes with Forbes magazine recently gave us an in-depth evaluation of the future of the DCEU, specifically regarding rumors surrounding The Batman.
In addition to stating that a script has been completed (and undergoing re-writes as we speak), Hughes also states that Warner Bros. is tentatively planning to start production in 2017. This backs up the information that Joe Manganiello sort of implied when he said he was preparing to start filming The Batman in Spring 2017.
Speaking of Manganiello, who is the DCEU's Deathstroke, Hughes also touches on the subject of what other villains we might see. And yes, Jared Leto's version of the Joker is on the list.
What Direction Will The Joker Go In The Batman?
Again, we should take all of this with a grain of salt, seeing how nothing has been officially confirmed by Warner Bros., but we do have some new things to speculate on regarding a potential return for #JaredLeto.
If you've been paying attention, the post-Suicide Squad reception of the newest version of the Joker has been somewhat split. We will finally have the chance to see more of Leto's performance with the extended cut of Suicide Squad that will be released digitally on November 15th, so it very well could be that Warner Bros. is waiting to make any official announcement until they see a reaction to any additional Joker scenes.
With that said, Forbes' Mark Hughes suggests a possibility of the direction that Warner Bros. might be going with not only The Batman as a whole, but with the fate of what Jared Leto's Joker will be. In other words, we might see the tattooed, gangster "King of Gotham City" become something a bit more familiar, and appear alongside several other DC Comics villains:
"Deathstroke is not the only villain in the film, and I believe the Joker is going to appear (I heard for many months that story points were planned taking some loose influence from the Joker chapter of Frank Miller's iconic comic book story The Dark Knight Returns, but it remains to be seen whether that pans out now that the script has been written)."
In case you're unaware, The Dark Knight Returns fast-forwards 10 years past the death of Jason Todd (a.k.a. Robin) as a now 55-year-old Batman returns to the streets of Gotham. This was sort of touched on already with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as we saw the reemergence of Bruce Wayne/Batman in the wake of Superman's actions in Man of Steel. As far as the villains are concerned for The Dark Knight Returns, it brings appearances by the Joker, Two-Face (Harvey Dent) and the Mutant Army led by the cunning Mutant Leader.
The Joker comes into the story more so in the second act, as he awakens from a catatonic state after Batman comes out of retirement. The Joker basically goes on a massive crime spree to try and lure Batman to him. The two have a seemingly fatal confrontation when the Joker breaks his own neck to try and incriminate Batman for murder.
Should We Just Accept The Changes Suicide Squad Introduced?
At the current moment, The Dark Knight Returns arc isn't something that seems too far-fetched. Judging from the DCEU version of the Joker that we have managed to see so far, I don't think they would have a hard time incorporating this kind of violence and insanity. As we saw in #SuicideSquad, he's not afraid to draw attention to himself or leave behind a trail of bodies and damage while he pursues what (or who) he wants.
But should they bother incorporating an existing version of the Joker?
If an existing arc is used for future DCEU appearances by the Joker, it could mean a couple of things might happen:
- The changes made by Jared Leto and Suicide Squad director David Ayer might be completely turned around. Although I don't think they can really go back on the appearance they gave us (because tattoos don't magically disappear), they could make some significant changes to the Joker's speech style, clothing and overall mannerisms. While some would be welcoming of even more changes regarding the newest "gangster" version of this iconic villain, it would be a bit of a blow to basic visual continuity.
- Harley Quinn might become a potential issue. She does not appear in The Dark Knight Returns, seeing as how it was released six years prior to her DC Comics debut. It will be a bit hard to believe that the DCEU Joker is operating with other Gotham villains and/or against Batman without his "Queen" by his side. Either way, the arc within The Dark Knight Returns will need to be altered in some way to account for the Joker's relationship with Harley Quinn.
Although Mark Hughes is speculating that The Batman will begin filming by 2017 for a fall or winter 2018 release, no one knows for sure, and he makes sure to reiterate that in the Forbes article:
"These are my personal expectations, in light of things I've heard and evidence I've seen so far. Whether some or all of these things come to pass, however, we just cannot say yet."
Along with taking the rumors surrounding release dates with a grain of salt, we also need to take any rumors surrounding Jared Leto in the same manner. Although he is reportedly contractually obligated to multiple DCEU films, that doesn't mean that Warner Bros. will exercise his contract options. In addition to recording the fifth studio album for his band, Thirty Seconds to Mars (new albums usually mean tours), Leto has wrapped his segments for Blade Runner 2049 and is currently in Tokyo, Japan, filming the 2017 crime-drama, The Outsider.
He's also officially signed on to play Andy Warhol in an upcoming film project. Not to mention he owns and operates his own tech startups and has investments in over 50 tech companies. In other words, Jared Leto is a pretty busy guy and it might be difficult for him to fit in the amount of devotion he put into the Joker in Suicide Squad for future DCEU films, including but not limited to The Batman.
For me personally, I believe that the fate of the Joker lies with the extended cut of Suicide Squad. If we, the viewers, still have a negative reaction to what Jared Leto did with this character, I don't think Warner Bros. will gamble the future of this cinematic universe and bring him back for more — not given the thin ice they're already on with fans and critics after multiple underwhelming efforts.
However, if the response to seeing more Joker footage is positive, I wouldn't be surprised if announcements regarding The Batman and/or the Joker come rolling out from the mouths of Geoff Johns and Ben Affleck. As always, only time will tell.
Did you love Jared Leto's Suicide Squad version of the Joker or feel he needs to better emulate the comics? Tell us in the comments below!