Jared Leto's Joker has got some big shoes to fill in Suicide Squad: following on from Heath Ledger's iconic portrayal is not an easy job. So far Leto has gone out of his way to demonstrate his dedication to the role, going full method to the point of sending creepy gifts to his cast mates and remaining in character for months during filming.
For the most part, what role he will play in the film remains a mystery, as new revelations cast doubt even on his part as the main antagonist. A new interview with Empire Magazine has helped shed some light on the issue, hinting that Jared Leto's Joker might be quite different from what you'd expect...
Brand New Joker
It makes sense for Jared Leto to want to make the Joker his own, and after unveiling a very scantily clad (and heavily tattooed) Joker early on in Suicide Squad's production, this version of the iconic fiend is definitely making waves among the fanbase.
But it seems as though image is not the only thing that's changed for this version of the Joker: Leto gave some insight into his characterisation of the villain. In fact, he was so in character that he almost answered the phone interview as the Joker...
"I was just thinking that the Joker would probably just say, ‘f*ck you,’ and hang up."
This seems a little simplistic for the notorious villain (personally I think he'd probably do something much creepier and terrifying that swear and hang up but hey), but there's nothing simple about Leto's journey to get into character. The actor revealed some of his process to fully understand the mindset of such a terrifyingly unhinged psychopath, which is to... listen to old gospel music?
"I always get the sense that The Joker may be much older than people think. It’s something different. If you don’t break rules, you’re not going to strike new ground. I think I’ll be cooling down for the rest of my life."
Leto has a point: the Joker's origin story is still something of a mystery, with plenty of conflicting accounts that cast doubt on the issue. From his bleached skin it looks like the Joker of Suicide Squad will probably have an origin similar to the villain's very first appearance, as Batman pushes the robber Red Hood into a vat of acid.
Overall, Leto definitely seems to have the right idea when embodying the Joker: he's challenging the stereotypes of the character and trying to create a personality with depth, while staying true to the Joker's manic behaviour. So far so good, but the creative team revealed that this Joker might be a lot more social than we'd expect.
Getting Down To Business
The word "social" isn't the first adjective that springs to mind when describing the Joker, yet that's exactly how producer Charles Roven sees the character.
"He’s more social…a very successful and smart businessman besides being a sociopath."
Could we catch a glimpse of Joker's pre-villain life in this version of the story? Or is the Joker himself just a people person? Whatever the answer, the idea of the Clown Prince of Crime being a "smart businessman" is odd, and kind of terrifying when we start to wonder what kind of business the Joker could possibly go into. It could be that this is exactly what Task Force X are sent to stop: after all, we did see a gang of Joker's goons in the trailer.
There are plenty of random costumed characters in the trailer: we first see them breaking into what is probably Arkham Asylum, right before Joker tortures Dr Harleen Quinzel....
And then again, shooting a path for Joker to enter this strange industrial facility.
So it seems that Joker might just have some sort of heist set up that Task Force X have to stop... could this be what Roven was referring to when he called Joker a businessman? Ah, speculation. It really never ends with Suicide Squad.
Suffice to say that Leto's Joker will be something quite different from what we've seen before. Contemplative and old-soul-y, but nonetheless terrifyingly manic, Joker has his own plans that will present a formidable challenge for Task Force X. What that challenge is remains to be seen, but at least we know Joker's role will be pivotal!