Jared Leto as the Joker in the Suicide Squad Trailer. Image via YouTube
Do Something About Jared Leto
Suicide Squad’s promo revolved around Oscar-winner Jared Leto and the grotesque pranks he played on his castmates. He sent them live rats and fetal pigs and signed things from “The Joker” and it was all anyone talked about. Director David Ayer talked about how disturbed Jared Leto was, and how his Joker, his tattooed and grill-heavy Joker, was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
Jared Leto was in Suicide Squad for 20 minutes. He only shared scenes with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.
Jared Leto terrorized his costars and us for, essentially, a cameo. Maybe they thought it was going to be a scene-stealing 20 minutes that no one would stop talking about, like how Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman (and theme song!) were the best part for Batman v Superman. But it wasn’t. It was hammy and overacted and didn’t make up for the obvious character design flaws (those tattoos) or behaviour (why are you sending dead pigs to people you never even shared a scene with?).
The Joker is a big part of the DC Universe, particularly anything involving Gotham City. Both Batman and Harley Quinn are going to be big parts of the DCEU moving forward, and that means more Joker. So now we have to take whatever Leto was doing and make it work.
The best Joker’s aren’t so psychotic and messed up and weird, they’re menacing and unpredictable. Move the spotlight away from Leto’s off-screen antics (also stop him from harassing his coworkers, that’s not cool) and tone down the performance. Remember that the Joker is supposed to be funny until he’s not.
Rogue One took an over saturated character like Darth Vader and made him scary again by downplaying him throughout the movie, and then having one great scene at the end. If the DCEU tried something similar for the Joker – keep him as a presence on everyone’s mind but don’t overplay him – they could maybe make him seem like a proper villain once again.