Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock... boom.
We're getting closer and closer to the August 5, 2016 release date of the highly anticipated (and mercilessly ridiculed) DC Comics film, Suicide Squad.
With big names like Jared Leto (American Psycho, Requiem For A Dream, Dallas Buyer's Club), Will Smith (Independence Day, I Am Legend, Pursuit of Happyness), Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short, Focus), Viola Davis (The Help, Prisoners, Law Abiding Citizen), and a whole squad (ha!) of other famous and talented performers making up the cast, it's obvious that the powers that be are betting big on this picture. Add to this the fact that the newest incarnation of Batman, played by Ben Affleck, will be making an appearance, and it becomes apparent that, in order for DC Comics to keep up with the Marvel shared universe, Suicide Squad has got to be good. Really good.
But, in all honesty, any movie has the pressure to be good or to entertain us. There is a very specific thing hanging over this movie and this movie alone... the ghost of Heath Ledger's iconic depiction of the Joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight.
He was everything we ever wanted as fans of the infamous villain. He used ordinary objects like pencils and pool cues to kill and terrify his victims. He cackled with a maniacal laugh that would make even the most horrible of criminals cringe and wonder just how crazy this freak in makeup was. He was an anarchical, homicidal, bank-robbing, mob-busting, Bat-taunting, and truly funny version of "The Clown Prince of Crime." Remove the body count and just listen to the Joker's dialogue throughout the film — he is making genuinely good jokes.
It has been over 20 years since Jack Nicholson donned his purple suit in 1989's Batman, so Leto can comfortably assume that his only real recent predecessor in the minds of most moviegoers is going to be the version from The Dark Knight.
Now, with the combination of Ledger's chaotic, funny, and over-the-top violent nature and Christopher Nolan's more serious direction, we noticed just how different the Joker was from the rest of the characters in the movie every single time he appeared on screen. When he killed someone, or when he made a joke, or even when he flapped his dirty, purple jacket back to reveal the bomb vest he was wearing, we knew that these things were things that only the Joker would think to do.
Herein lies the problem for Jared Leto in 'Suicide Squad.'
How does Jared Leto make his interpretation of the Joker still shine in an ensemble film full of interesting and psychotic characters?
There are a few different possibilities:
- Kill one of the other members of the Squad: What I'm suggesting is that the first time we see the Joker, he's already way less interested in joining any sort of team than the other members of the Squad are. This, alongside his unpredictable nature, could lead him to flat out murder one of his "teammates" in struggle for power, a show of strength, or simply for fun. It would have to be one of the more minor members of the team but killing someone we've gotten to know over the course of the movie without hesitation or explanation would certainly make this Joker a bit scarier than Ledger's Joker.
- Be a vengeful Joker with a specific mission: The Dark Knight's Joker was the epitome of anarchy. He did bad things because he liked to do bad things. He liked to watch the world burn. Perhaps in Suicide Squad, the Joker could be a little less concerned with causing mayhem and more obsessed with revenge against those who have wronged him or escaping from the clutches of the Squad's organizer, Amanda Waller.
- Less jokes, more blood: Again, Heath Ledger's Joker was genuinely funny. His physical comedy and his timing practically made the movie the classic it is today. Leto should let up on the punchlines and up the brutality. I want to see the Joker that would beat someone with a crowbar over and over and over again without any signs of stopping. Think Mel Gibson's tomahawk scene in The Patriot but with clown makeup.