It's no secret that the DC Extended Universe has been feeling distinctively New 52 flavored as of late, but it's looking like the upcoming Suicide Squad is about to kick everything up another notch into the realm of the terrifying and — weirdly enough — it's kinda all down to Jared Leto's Joker.
Check out the shiny new trailer below (if you haven't already) to get an idea of what we're talking about.
Jared Leto's Joker
It's funny, we never thought we'd be saying this about the concept of Jared Leto of all people portraying one of the most iconic comic book villains ever. But despite the amusing behind-the-scenes tales and the initial sour taste left in our mouths by the tattooed Joker reveal, it looks like Suicide Squad's Joker has the potential to be absolutely fantastic.
It was obvious from the get-go that we were going to get a distinctly Scarface-flavored Joker, one very different from the likes of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. From the gangster grills to the snazzy red leather jacket and goons standing around with machine guns, he had the distinct feel of Brian Azzarello's Joker from his self-titled graphic novel Joker.
There's already been many different versions of the Clown Prince, both on screen and in the comic books. The comic book Joker has usually skirted the darker side of things; shooting Barbara Gordon and taking pictures of her bleeding, naked body to torment Jim Gordon in The Killing Joke; beating Robin / Jason Todd to death in A Death in the Family. But this all pales in comparison to his New 52 iteration.
Speaking Of The New 52...
The most recent appearance of the Clown Prince in the DC comics was in the electrifying Batman: Endgame, which sees the return of Joker with an even more homicidal agenda as he decides it's time to kill Batman and topple Gotham once and for all. The Endgame Joker is written by Scott Snyder, with beautifully gruesome art by Greg Capullo (the two also penned Death of the Family, probably one of the best Joker stories ever written).
And Snyder and Capullo's Joker is legitimately, balls to the wall, terrifying.
Endgame's Joker is still quite new, so has not yet been cemented as iconic in comic book lore in quite the same way as the Joker of Moore's The Killing Joke or Ed Brubaker's The Man Who Laughs has; but we are almost certain that the years will change that.
Even if you only have a passing knowledge of the recent DC comics you'll probably be aware of how different, and how demented, Snyder's Joker is. He has his face surgically removed by the Dollmaker and nailed to the wall of his cell in Detective Comics, and later wears it as a mask in Death of the Family as he hunts down, kidnaps and psychologically tortures each member of the Batman Family.
He cuts off Alfred's hand with a meat cleaver in Batman: Endgame, for crying out loud!
And, oh yeah, he also might be immortal (though the conclusion of Endgame seemed to suggest otherwise).
He's been described as "a near-mythic figure" and that's perhaps the best description of the New 52 Joker. Certainly it's the concept that the narrative of Endgame deals with, as Batman investigates the Gotham legend of the immortal Pale Man, the story suggesting that Joker has existed in the city since its very founding hundreds of years prior.
And it looks like the New 52 Joker mythology is starting to creep into the films, as a certain shot of Leto from the new trailer looks suspiciously similar to Endgame's aesthetic style.
OK, I know. Maybe we're getting excited too early, maybe this shot was just a visual homage to Endgame's Joker; but we always knew that it was going to be tough to measure up to Ledger's now-mythic portrayal of Joker in The Dark Knight. Going completely left of field of the Christopher Nolan-era Joker while still giving a nod toward the comics is a good move, as Ledger's Joker existed largely independently of the greater Batman mythology created by the comic books and other media.
So whilst Snyder and Capullo's Joker might not yet be as well known in the mainstream as those who have come before him, for comic book readers the prospect of seeing aspects of him carried over into the DCEU is very exciting indeed.
Which is your favourite comic book Joker? Tell us in the comments below!