Suicide Squad was like stinging your eye with a lemon after the raw pain inflicted on our pupils by Batman v. Superman. By itself, an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience, but as part of a terrible universe where some of the most iconic characters in comics get bastardized … it stung real bad.
There were some enjoyable bits: Will Smith and Margot Robbie’s performances and Amanda Waller being HBIC, but the most jarring and irritating thing about the film was Jared Leto’s Pimp Daddy Joker. Leto’s Joker filled me with the deepest levels of cringe, from the design of his character to the way he was clumsily included into the narrative.
David Ayer agrees, and laments the fact that he did not just make Joker the bad guy from the very beginning, which you know, if you had just improved upon the plot of Batman: Assault on Arkham you would have had a winning movie.
Believe me. I agonize over this. Yes. Joker should have been main bad guy.
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) November 26, 2017
Personally, from the very beginning, I felt like including Joker into the story would take away from Harley Quinn’s story. This was the character’s first in live-action film (Birds of Prey beat them with television and to be honest, they kinda did it better) and while most people know the backstory of Harley Quinn, there have been several attempts by writers over the years to give Harley her own identity outside of Mista J.
She’s had a toxic, but awesome, relationship with Poison Ivy, is a member of the Justice League in the Injustice universe and has starred in her own comic book series. Harley Quinn has outgrown the Joker, and while he remains a key part of her origin story, that era is dead. However, I was still hoping they would do something interesting and address the abusive nature of their relationship and instead it turned into this:
Sigh. Look, I get the appeal of Joker x Harley, I really do, and I have no problem with people who enjoy it because it is a fucked up toxic relationship and that is interesting to watch, read, etc. However, this ret-con Joker who is portrayed as actually giving a shit about Harley Quinn, I take huge issues with because that is not, and has never been, that relationship.
Turning it into some romance story underminds a lot about both characters, when the actual twisted relationship it has always been is what attracts people to it. Also, I deeply reject the reality that in Harley’s perfect world she and The Joker are normal middle-class WASPS with kids. Bleh.
We should be grateful that within our lifetime we’ve had three excellent version of The Joker:
and Mark Hamill.
Now it is time for other villains in the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery to take the lead. Storylines with Joker in films need to take a rest for awhile, because he is a presence that doesn’t lend itself to an ensemble role where he is literally just breaking his girlfriend out of jail. More Joker wouldn’t have saved Suicide Squad, but investing in finding ways to adapt villains who were too “comic-book”-y for Nolan or could be better done than Burton—that’s the way to go.
Bring me Man-Bat! Bring me Poison Ivy! Hell, bring me Clayface—you have 8 different version to chose from. For the DCEU to really move forward it has to embrace what makes it different, and do things it hasn’t done before. How about making Batman be a detective for once? That would be great, right?
What do you think, would more Leto!Joker have saved the movie for you?
(via SyFy Wire, image: Warner Bros.)
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