We all knew this was coming. We all knew whoever played the Joker next would be judged harshly in comparison to his late predecessor Heath Ledger. It didn’t matter what direction they decided to take, this could not be avoided.
But I’m very positive about this new take and here are my reasons why you should also get excited.
With references to the Joker in the Batman v Superman trailer and footage of the Joker in the Suicide Squad trailer it is pretty clear that we are getting the first recurring live-action Joker since Caesar Romero.
One of the biggest mistakes of the original Tim Burton Batman was killing off the Joker. Don’t get me wrong the Joker has died countless times, however, the Joker is far more interesting alive than dead. Joker is the living counter-argument to Batman’s non-killing code, every time Batman spares his life he is also causing the death of countless Joker victims. Joker has always pushed Batman to the brink of murder and this is what makes him Batman’s greatest nemesis.
Nolan and his crew understood this, and summed it up best with this unforgettable quote from the Joker.
“Oh, you. You just couldn’t let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You are truly incorruptible, aren’t you? Huh? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”
The Joker having a romantic interest may sound like a horrible idea but it makes a lot of sense in execution. The Joker has a manipulative power over her in the same creepy vein as Charles Manson.
Harley Quinn made her first appearance in Paul Dini’s Batman the animated series and was such a fan favourite that she was swiftly introduced into the comics canon. Sadly their abusive relationship was never introduced into any of the previous movies, but thankfully it was announced that she would finally debut alongside Jared Leto’s Joker in Suicide Squad next year.
Although not officially confirmed, this screenshot of Robins armour covered in graffiti from the Batman v Superman trailer makes it clear that the Joker must have had a run in with one of the Robins.
Jason Todd was the second Robin after Dick Grayson (the first Robin) left and joined the Teen Titans. Unlike Grayson, Jason wasn’t popular with the fans and eventually died because of them. DC Comics gave the fans the chance to decide his fate with a vote, surprisingly more fans voted for his death. His brutal murder happened at the hands of the Joker who tortured him with a crowbar, followed by being locked in a exploding building. It is one of the Joker’s most iconic moments, it is also one of the most tragic moments in the comics. It’s hard not to get emotional seeing batman cradling his lifeless body, knowing he is overwhelmed with sorrow and guilt.
The closest we’ve come to this in the movies is the death of Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight, which also has a very similar death scene involving an exploding building.
Batman movies have had their fair share of controversy when it comes to casting decisions. Some of the most iconic performances in Batman movies were thanks to these unsafe choices. Believe it or not, both Michael Keaton and Heath Ledger were once considered bad choices. I’d be lying if I said Warner Bros wasn’t guilty of some horrific miscasting in the past (What killed the dinosaurs? The ice age!), but I really do believe that for the most part Warner Bros. knows what they are doing, especially when it comes to adapting The Joker.
Plus, Jared Leto’s casting announcement hasn’t stirred any controversy, in fact it was met with approval by fans.
Joker with a history
With the announcement that Ben Affleck would be playing an ageing Batman, it seems safe to assume that he must have had a few run ins with the Joker. This will be a first for the movies as both Heath Ledger’s Joker and Jack Nicholson’s Joker dealt with Batman’s first encounter with the Joker.
I know what your thinking. How is this a good look with those tattoos, the Joker never had tattoo’s. Well I have two points to make against this argument.
1.) The Joker has had tatoo’s, most famously in Frank Miller’s All Star Batman. Although admittedly not the best example.
2.) Most of the tattoos wont be visible when he’s wearing his classic purple suit.
I admit the tattoo’s don’t really add anything, but I honestly think it’s something we’ll get used to. If we can get used to Heath Ledger’s design which was a large departure from the classic Joker look (cut smile, long hair, face paint) then I think we can get past the tattoo’s. Personally, I honestly wasn’t distracted by the tattoo’s at all in the trailer, while admittedly I found Heath Ledger’s appearance far more jarring to look at.
There are a lot more positives than negatives to this Joker’s look. For starters, Jared Leto is the right body type for the Joker who should be slim but not entirely out of shape. Also the hair is more fitting for the Joker as well as the right shade of green. Jared Leto also has very striking and expressive eyes, very similar to the classic Joker from the killing Joke. It’s also refreshing to see the red lips without extra lines on the side which all of the previous live action Jokers had. His teeth was another thing that bothered the fans but this is the best part of the design, its evidence of the beatings he has taken from Batman.
I really do believe that the more footage we are given the more people will warm up to the design.
A new take
How can you not get excited about seeing a new live-action Joker? It feels like a big event especially when you look at the time gaps between Jokers.
- There is nearly a 20 year gap between Romero’s Joker and Jack Nicholson’s Joker
- There is nearly a 20 year gap between Jack Nicholson’s Joker and Heath Ledger’s Joker
Admittedly this is the quickest we’ve ever had a new Joker, but by the time Suicide Squad comes out it would have already been 8 years since Heath’s performance.
It is too early to say what Jared Leto’s performance will be like and the few seconds of footage is not enough to gain a feel for his take. Although it is clear that Leto will bring something new to the table.
Bring on 2016.