Earlier this summer, David Ayer's Suicide Squad gave audiences yet another interpretation of Batman's arch-nemesis. While opinions of Jared Leto's version of the Joker were mixed to positive, it's safe to continue saying that there has yet to be a bad version of the Joker on film.
In fact, this portrayal did some things better than any previous live-action Joker. So let's take a look at what Leto and Ayer did right with the character. Put on a big smile, because the Joker is wild and so is this list — speaking of which...
1. The Smile
You can't have the Joker without a wide grin, and Jared Leto nailed it with a smile that is both infectious and terrifying. Wide, wild and grilled, I personally found his maniacal smile to be even better than Jack Nicholson's.
Don't get me wrong, Nicholson had a great smile, but it was mostly pulled off by the prosthetics at play.
(Now, maybe you're asking me how Leto's smile compares to Heath Ledger's smile. Well, there is no question in my mind that Leto's definitely wins there, since Ledger barely smiled and instead just had scars.)
2. His Eccentric Yet Scary Personality
The Joker is a wild, colorful and eccentric character, and this version definitely has that going for him. Whenever Leto was the wild man that the Joker is, he had a likability about him that most Jokers usually do.
However, what makes this Joker work is that while he's being the fun clown, he's still scary and liable to snap and kill somebody if they so much as blink wrong. The best example of this is the club scene with Common's Monster T (where at first Leto was just having some fun, then BAM! Monster T dies just for ogling Harley Quinn). Also, the scene when Joker confronts Ike Barinholtz's Griggs, massaging him, warning him about all the chit-chat and how it will hurt him. The tension in the scene is so good because you think it's going to lead to Joker brutally murdering Griggs, right? Nope, it ended with Joker smiling and letting him live.
So when you pull off likable, crazy and scary all in one? I'd say Leto's portrayal earns the point here.
3. He's The Closest To Looking Like the Comics
While Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger's versions had the purple suit, Jared Leto physically looked closer to the comics version: pointed chin, vibrant green hair, red lips, black around the eyes, tall and lanky. True, this Joker still stands on his own, thanks to the controversial tattoos.
His look (or rather his multiple looks during the movie) draws inspiration from many comics: his silver and magenta suit, the dragon tattoo on his back, the black and white suit, etc. Whether you like his performance or not, you can't deny that Leto physically owned the role.
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4. The Laugh
Laughter is the best medicine. As someone who not only adores but also has voiced this character, I personally felt that I enjoyed this Joker's laugh more than previous versions. Don't take that as me saying Nicholson or Ledger had bad laughs; both had their own unique laughs that got me grinning. Jared Leto just had a laugh that made me immediately say, "Yes. THAT is the Joker."
From his creepy long and slow laughs in the trailer to his wild and frantic laughs (such as in the helicopter scene or the Chemical Wedding scene), I believe that Leto's laugh will become iconic in the future.
5. He's A True Clown Prince Of Crime!
Now think about this for a second: we have yet to see a live-action Joker that is a crime lord in Gotham City. Jack Nicholson came the closest, but he mostly was just a madman looking for attention, and Heath Ledger was just an anarchist trying to create chaos.
Jared Leto's Joker is the first to be seen as a gangster who controls crime in Gotham City; he has business with other gangsters, he runs a club and he has loyal lackies like Johnny Frost, whom he doesn't kill like a cliché villain.
Of course, he's still the psychopath we all know him to be — I mean, he steals a military helicopter in the middle of a very dangerous Midway City just so he can get his girlfriend back. It's really refreshing to see a Clown Prince of Crime, and I hope to see more of it in future DC films, especially his rivalry with other gangs like Black Mask's mafia, Penguin's gang and Two-Face's gang.
Perhaps Leto's Joker will appear again in Ben Affleck's solo outing as Batman, where he is rumored to be competing with Black Mask to hire Deathstroke to kill Batman. One can only hope.