In case you missed it, some major news dropped regarding the upcoming #DCEU movie The Batman. Many speculated that Batman's solo movie, to be directed by Ben Affleck, could bring back #JaredLeto as the Joker for a proper villain treatment, but we were quickly taken in another direction after Affleck gifted us with some test footage via social media:
Affleck teased early footage of #Deathstroke (a.k.a. Slade Wilson), and the internet basically exploded regarding possibilities of what, or when, the character would appear. Some people were saying that he'd show up in Justice League, while others claimed that he was slated to be the main villain for Suicide Squad 2.
Anything seemed possible until we got quick confirmation that Deathstroke was going to serve as the main villain for Affleck's solo #Batman film, The Batman.
We don't really know what's going on with The Batman just yet and we don't have solid confirmation that it is going to be the untitled 2018 DCEU release. However, this announcement does raise some questions regarding the future of existing DCEU characters, specifically another major Batman villain.
So ... What Happened With The Joker?
While some people already think the plan is to use both Deathstroke and the Joker for The Batman, others are suggesting that the introduction of Deathstroke as a main villain is a direct result of Jared Leto complaining about Suicide Squad. I suppose anything is a possibility, but I don't think that's the case.
I have a difficult time believing this announcement stemmed from comments that Jared Leto (supposedly) made earlier in August at the Camp Mars event, and I'm skeptical for a couple of reasons.
Not only has Leto himself already debunked the comments that went viral as untrue and taken out of context, but WB wouldn't have acted that quickly in response. I mean, it hasn't even been a full month since #SuicideSquad was released. Plus, anyone with common sense knows test footage doesn't just appear overnight. Deathstroke has had to have been in the works for quite a while.
Jared Leto was overwhelmingly vocal about wanting to appear in a Batman movie as a main villain during the Suicide Squad press tour and seemed to have the best time ever while playing the Joker. In addition to what the man himself wants, there has been a pretty big calling from fans for a proper representation of the Joker.
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After the disaster that happened in Suicide Squad (and how awesome the Joker was in the book), people definitely want to see more of this character. However, it appears that Ben Affleck and WB just shot down the possibility of him having a major role.
Don't get me wrong, there is still a possibility that the Joker could appear in The Batman in some way. Even though Deathstroke will be the main villain, that doesn't mean another bad guy couldn't pop up. After all, we had multiple villains for Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, so perhaps the Joker will be a supporting character or could even be working with Deathstroke to try and destroy Batman.
We simply don't know yet, but learning that the Joker won't be the main villain is a bit of a slap in the face. Especially after the obvious tease we got from Bruce Wayne himself regarding "freaks dressed like clowns" in #BatmanVSuperman.
Why Introduce The Joker If They Aren't Going To Use Him?
Given the amount of press and hype surrounding Leto's version of the character, DC doesn't seem to be too interested in actually exercising his full potential. We've barely seen anything from him and it doesn't look like we'll be seeing much more in the future.
It leaves you to wonder why WB would choose such an iconic villain to seemingly serve as nothing but an anchor for Harley Quinn's backstory. #HarleyQuinn is amazing, but she has nothing without the Joker (or his antics) on a bigger scale. If you want to talk about proper development for Harley, we need to see a proper representation of the tension between Batman and the Joker. Yes, we have seen the two battle it out on the big screen before, but never when Harley Quinn is involved. It not only stunts the Joker's potential in the DCEU, but it inevitably stunts Harley's.
It's worth mentioning that the Joker could still appear in future DCEU films, but there aren't many options for him. There are strong rumors surrounding the solo Harley Quinn project, and given the way that Suicide Squad reunited Harley with her Puddin', they could be saving him for that project instead of utilizing him fully in The Batman.
However, for that to work in his favor, Batman would also need to appear in Harley's movie. Another possibility would be for them to use deleted footage from Suicide Squad and integrate it into Justice League in some capacity. That is, if the Joker is at all relevant to the story. Otherwise, we'll be waiting years and years for a real showdown between Affleck and Leto.
At this point, it almost seems like it would have been a better option to not introduce the Joker at all, or at least not until a later time. I would have preferred waiting over the massive tease, extremely underwhelming result and ridiculously questionable future. It's almost as if they went in intending for the Joker to be a massive part of this universe and decided to change their minds at the last minute.
#BenAffleck has proven himself as a talented filmmaker (he didn't win those writer and producer Oscars for nothing!), so maybe we should have faith in him to get this right.
For me personally, though, the announcement of Deathstroke seems to be yet another example of WB overcrowding the DCEU movies. If Slade Wilson is actually going to appear alongside the Joker, that is a lot of villain material to cram into just one movie and that is something to be nervous about regarding the DCEU.
If that's truly the case, that would tell me that WB still hasn't learned the lessons from Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad about overwhelming the audience with characters and subplots.
Seeing how problematic Suicide Squad turned out to be in terms of development, I don't know how much better The Batman would be. We didn't really get any backstory for the Joker either. As the audience, we were basically left with internet rumors and the footage we got in Suicide Squad. This includes not seeing the Joker murdering Robin, how or why the Joker was in #ArkhamAsylum when he met Dr. Harleen Quinzel, how he managed to grow his massive crime empire, what he was doing after Batman turned Harley Quinn over to Belle Reve, etc. There is a lot we don't know and that is a potential (and likely) problem.
Multiple Batman villains have worked in the past with Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, and even with Tim Burton's Batman Returns, but we didn't really have existing storylines prior to those films. We didn't see the Joker or Two-Face prior to The Dark Knight, or Penguin and Catwoman prior to Batman Returns. The fact that we've already seen Leto's Joker and are aware of the issues surrounding the character (and the entire DCEU) makes his future a bit more unnerving.
Seeing how some people think that Lex Luthor might also pop up in The Batman (thanks to the Ultimate Edition of BvS), the introduction of Deathstroke very well might be WB telling us that we should kiss our Joker dreams goodbye.