The Joker is the arch nemesis of Batman and an iconic DC villain whose origin story and characterization have changed drastically since his first appearance in 1940. At first playing the role of Batman's antagonist, the Clown Prince of Crime became a trickster in the 1950s and '60s before reverting back to being a murderous psychopath in the 1970s.
The Joker has been a visually diverse character, changing with each writer who lent their skills to his evolution. Today, as a character the Joker has as much depth as any hero in the DC universe, dwarfing many other villains.
Only the Joker could appear as the antagonist of The Dark Knight and make himself the finest aspect of the movie, but that's the perk of being one of the greatest characters in comic history.
But now, only a few years later, the Joker is back and we will see yet another interpretation of the character, this time played by none other than Jared Leto.
There's been a fair amount of secrecy surrounding the role of Leto's Joker, but with this reinterpretation of the iconic villain comes fan theories which attempt to explain the origins of the newest Joker. Some are pretty strange -- hell they're all pretty strange, but that's the wonder of fan theories!
I've tied a few similar theories together in attempt to make some sense of them. Have a look, do you think they help explain Leto's Joker?
1. The Joker is Robin
It's fairly well known by this point that the Joker killed Robin before Batman v Superman, apparent from the Robin's armor on display in the BvS trailer, but which also seems to have puncture wounds matching that of Suicide Squads Joker, and a very Joker-esc quote.
HAHAHA Joke's on you BATMAN.
So does the history of Leto's Joker include a Robin origin story? The complex theory which suggests the Joker was formally Batman's sidekick aims to draw strong ties between Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman, making Leto's Joker the "deceased" Robin hinted at in the BvS trailer. It's definitely optimistic, but considering DC is aiming to tie together future films in preparation for a Justice League movie in 2017, it would make sense to give some serious depth to characters prior to its release.
Fans will know that, being Batman's sidekick, Robin has enjoyed a colorful history with the Joker, having been beaten to death by the Clown Prince of Crime in "A Death in the Family," and tortured to insanity in the "Dark Knight Strikes Again." In "The Killing Joke" we learn that Jason Todd's Robin became the Red Hood, before falling into a vat of acid and becoming the Joker.
The theory of Robin becoming the Joker doesn't entirely hold up under scrutiny if we assume that they're adhering entirely to the comic book storylines. However if directors David Ayer (Suicide Squad) and Zack Snyder (BvS) are simply using the original comic book plots as inspiration, without religious adherence to the specifics, then we could see future references to the Joker's 'The Killing Joke' origins.
We have no way of knowing the direction Ayer is taking the Joker, however with the darker Batman history being introduced in BvS -- including a murdered Robin -- it's possible that the histories of Suicide Squad and BvS do tie together.
2. Suicide Squad is a Prequel to Batman v Superman
That being said, it's been suggested that Ayer's Suicide Squad could serve as a prequel to Snyder's Batman v Superman. This is less of a fan theory and more a well-educated guess, and also doesn't directly concern the Joker -- although he is a major player in the theory.
There's a fantastic array of villains set to star in Suicide Squad, including: Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and Killer Croc, all of which were captured and sent to Belle Reve by Batman over his long 20 year career as the vigilante.
Batman's role in Suicide Squad is supposedly as a boogeyman type figure -- which makes sense considering the protagonists are villains. But it's also assumed that among those hunting Batman is Leto's Joker, alongside Amanda Waller (Viola Davis).
As Batman's nemesis, it is natural to assume the Joker would be integral in tracking him down; moreover, devoting an entire film to those who consider Batman a frightening antagonist should go some way towards introducing the dark, tortured, veteran Batman set to star in Snyder's BvS.
If this is the case, then we could see huge exploration into the relationship between Batman and the Joker, even if they have limited screen time together. We know that Batman can be seen in a Suicide Squad flashback clinging to the roof of a car driven by the joker, but does this serve to tie the movies together?
3. 'The Killing Joke'
'The Killing Joke' was a one shot comic published in 1988 and is widely regarded as the birth of the Joker's origin story. After originally being a homicidal killer, the Joker spent decades as a trickster, before returning in 'The Killing Joke,' reinventing as the iconic clown we know today: insane, homicidal, and with a pale, acid-scarred face.
Jared Leto recently released a photo which clearly parodies the Joker from 'Killing Joke,' but was this just a nod to the fans, or is Leto hinting that his Joker will be based upon that particular interpretation of the character?
The theory certainly has merit. Shots of Leto's Joker show him as having the characteristic bleached skin and dyed hair of 'The Killing Joke' Joker, however, Leto's Instagram hint could simply be a reference to the comic book, revealing that the character is being reborn and reinvented once again.
Have a look at the Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman trailers below.