Jared Leto as the Joker

Gail Simone Gave a Simple Answer When Asked Her Thoughts on Jared Leto’s Joker

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While we were trying to watch Birds of Prey as a group online last night, comic book writer Gail Simone was asked for her opinion on the Suicide Squad incarnation of the Joker, as played by Oscar winner Jared Leto. Her simple, yet perfect answer was: “I don’t love it, it’s okay.” Which sums up a lot of aspects of Suicide Squad.

Despite the time that has passed from Suicide Squad‘s release to now, one of the most divisive elements is how people feel about Jared Leto’s Joker. From behind-the-scenes stories of “method acting,” which mostly sounded like childish hazing, to the fact that his portrayal was so different from the usual version, it makes sense. Despite that I did not enjoy Joker (2019), that portrayal at least has some threads of connectivity to the source material, and the Joker plays a substantial role in it, whereas in Suicide Squad, he feels like an elevated background character whose screentime is there to validate Harley’s existence.

As someone who appreciates the Joker as a character, but also feels as if the oversaturation of his presence weakens the actual brilliance of the character, Jared Leto’s incarnation is the best reflection of how the Joker “brand” turns a great villain into an okay villain.

Suicide Squad was not a movie in which he needs to be here. I have come to realize that a lot of people don’t actually know the origins of Harley Quinn outside of the comic book world, so I understand having some flashbacks that explain her connection to the Joker. They are effective, especially her “transformation” sequence, but after that, he should vanish from the film. He is not the villain, and this idea that he would try to break Harley out of prison is something that I don’t canonically buy, but it would have been a cool ending scene.

However, pushing him into the movie, especially with that helicopter scene, just takes up space from the actual characters in the movie. We know that he’s not dead when it crashes. They aren’t going to kill one of the biggest villains in DC in a Suicide Squad movie. As said in Simone’s first tweet, the Joker would work so much better as an unseen presence that lingers in the film, if he is not going to actually be the focus.

This lack of any real storyline, yet giving him some impactful moments of screentime, is what makes Leto’s Joker so exhausting. What was it all for? His performance itself personally doesn’t do anything for me because I think his Juggalo/crime boss aesthetic just looks like a bad wrestling personality. Leto is not bad in the role. His character is just obnoxious rather than menacing, and oddly sentimental for some reason. I don’t begrudge people who do like it; I just don’t think there is much there on paper to like. I think most people see the potential of Leto’s Joker, which is understandable. If only the movie knew what to do with him.

(via ComicBookMovie.com, image: Warner Bros.)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.