(Warning: SPOILERS for several past Batman comics lie below...)
With the release of both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad fast approaching, it's not too surprising that a lot of attention is coming the way of DC's fast-growing Cinematic Universe.
One figure in particular, though, has drawn the lion's share of that focus - with good reason, since he's one of the most icon villains (in any medium) of all time, and is set to be played by a critically-acclaimed recent Oscar winner. That figure? The Clown Prince of Crime himself, The Joker, as soon to be played by Jared Leto...
Now, we already know that we'll be seeing him in Suicide Squad, but a big question remains:
What else is The Joker going to get up to in the DCU?
Well, it seemed as though this was as good a time as any to take a closer look at what we could be set to see on screen in the coming years - and as it turns out, the comic-book world might just be hiding some pretty likely candidates:
A Death in the Family Could Show What's Been Before
Specifically, the 1988 story-line's hugely dark moment in which - after actual, real-life Batman fans voted for him to die - The Joker killed Batman's increasingly unpopular sidekick, the replacement Robin Jason Todd, could.
If the new DCU is looking for a reason for Batman to have drifted out of public life - and to passionately hate The Joker - that's surely the most obvious (and fan-serving) choice...
The Dark Knight Returns Could Show Us What We'll See in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Specifically, if DC decide to pull a similar trick to Marvel's likely inclusion of Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, and bring The Joker's debut forward to Batman v Superman (there's more than enough time for reshoots that'd make it posssible), the film's loose inspiration already provides a straightforward way to do so.
Batman v Superman is, after all, reportedly taking several cues from 1986's The Dark Knight Returns, and The Joker's smaller role in the story, in which he's essentially a twisted celebrity who requires the existence of Batman for his own sadistic validation.
Which, lets be honest, Jared Leto could nail in his sleep.
The New 52 Could Suggest What We'll See in Suicide Squad
Specifically, a twisted, face-mutilating and particularly psychotic version of the villain - one far better suited to playing the long-game of villainy than the (comparatively) more whimsical version that predated DC's New 52 reboot.
The new Joker's relationship to Harley Quinn (and he involvement in the Suicide Squad) seem to suggest that DC are already heavily drawing from the New 52, so don't be too surprised if there's some sort of business involving face-removal in Suicide Squad...
Batman: The Killing Joke Could Hint at What a Batman Solo Movie Would Be Like
One of the most iconic Batman stories of all time, 1988's The Killing Joke is one of the most peculiar Joker stories ever put into print - since it makes the villain a figure of an almost tragic nature. Sure, he brutally assaults the then-Batgirl Barbara Gordon, paralyzing her - but it also goes to (what are now known as) HBO-like proportions to humanize the Joker, too.
He's horrendous, psychotic and homicidal, but you see what's caused it - and how it draws a mirror up to what has made Batman who he in turn is. It could make for a very different - and dark - solo Batman movie, and one that could actually provide a clean, Bale and Ledger-free slate from which to build a franchise.
Hush Would Make a Perfect Follow Up Solo Movie
For a second solo movie, though, the odds of The Joker playing a central role would inevitably be diminished by the standard superhero-sequel-producer's reluctance to bring back the first movie's villain. If, though, they were to adapt the classic 2002 story-line Hush, in which a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, since turned evil, manipulates the whole of Gotham (including The Joker and the rest of Batman's Rogues Gallery) in an elaborate plot against Batman, we could see one of the most intriguing moments in Bat-History.
After said childhood friend, Tommy Elliott, tricks Batman into thinking that the Joker killed him, it takes everything in Jim Gordon's guilt-tripping arsenal to keep Batman from taking the villain's life. What better ten minute cameo to start the movie than that?