Can you really be a psychopath and a businessman? At least that's what Jared Leto is planning on demonstrating in the upcoming Suicide Squad, DC/Warner's much expected and neon-colored villain party. In the run-up to the movie's release, Leto's method antics on set took most of the spotlight in the news about his take on the famous character, which the late Heath Ledger made so memorable in the Dark Knight series. From gifts containing dead animals sent to his co-stars to straight-up weirdness on set, the ever-transforming actor really gave the rest of the crew the full Joker treatment.
But we've heard less about the kingpin spin he's put on the green-haired maniac — from the inspiration he found in real life drug lords, to his tattoos and his golden cane, we're looking at a Joker who appears to have his act much more together than some of the more whimsical versions we've seen before. Is that a change to be welcomed, or does that take away from the purely psychopathic nature the Joker has always had? Can he properly rule his underground kingdom and be a senseless killer at the same time?
Suicide Squad's Joker Is A Businessman
When SlashFilm visited the set of Suicide Squad last year, they got insight from producer Richard Suckle on the type of Joker we can expect, and how he's clearly the king of Gotham's underworld.
"He's a businessman. He's crazy of course, and he kills people, but he's super right. He's running a business. If you could imagine the head of any successful corporation, he runs his business that way. He just happens to be a psychopath."
So, we've got less of a guy who's spun completely out of control and tortures random people: This Joker, no matter how cruel he gets, knows exactly what he's doing. That's something you can also see in his style, Suckle explained:
"He's very, very conscientious of his business and he's also very conscientious of the way he dresses. Style is a really big part of this Joker. It would be important to him to know what next year's Prada would be like because he may want to have it a year before everybody else."
Is the Joker the Devil who wears Prada? Now that's a conspiracy theory! I can hear fans exploding from here at the idea that the Joker would be a fashionable type of guy, but let's look at it a little bit closer. The fashion choices are linked to the whole drug lord lifestyle: He's got a cane and a ring that he makes people kiss as a sort of allegiance pledge. His love for bling gadgets makes sense in his position as king of the villainous underworld, as they're probably the things that come closest to an actual crown.
The Joker Started Out As An Uncontrollable Sociopath
It's clearly a sharp turn from the Joker iterations we've seen before. In the comics, the infamous villain started out as a sociopath who would murder people for no apparent reason. He slowly became more calculating, but his reinvention in the '70s made him completely uncontrollable again. He loves chaos, and his methods don't really seem to follow any kind of strategy or long-term thinking.
But now we're looking at a kingpin, with a position that would require at least a small amount of planning from him. Does that make him any less mad, though? While we'll have to see the end product to get a definitive opinion about Leto's interpretation, the business aspect doesn't necessarily take away from the pure madness that's always characterized the smirking clown. If anything, it makes him more cold and calculated than ever before — it's more a change of motives than an evolution of his actions, which will probably still consist of torturing a bunch of people.
It also makes more sense in regards to the mission he set himself to reunite with Harley Quinn. His business skills mean that he's able to realize how much of a valuable partner Harley is. They've built their underground empire together, so when she's locked up in Belle Reve and later enrolled in the Suicide Squad, he needs her back.
Ultimately, however good Leto's Joker turns out to be, we can't blame the Suicide Squad team for trying a new approach, especially on a character who's been so overwhelmingly present throughout comic book culture. As director David Ayer put it:
"When you have someone as talented as Jared — and then I think when you accept that Heath happened and The Dark Knight happened — you just move forward. We're the oldest, most well-known villains in modern culture. To leave him fallow, I think would be a shame."
Do you think this new Joker in Suicide Squad strays too far from his legacy?