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Heath Ledger may have stunned audiences with his award-winning portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight, but with the DC Cinematic Universe moving forward and a new Batman debuting, it’s practically inevitable that a new interpretation of the Clown Prince of Crime in live-action is coming. Earlier today it was reported that Warner Bros. is looking at Jared Leto to play the Joker in 2016’s Suicide Squad. Obviously one of the big questions is whether the Dallas Buyers Club star is right for the role, but the bigger question is how the Joker will affect the story. It’s doubtful he would be part of the team, but the movie may be able to put him in a more unique position fitting his status as one of the greatest DC villains of all time.
Here’s the problem with including Joker as a member of the Suicide Squad: he’s too much of a wild card. For those not familiar, the Suicide Squad is a group of incarcerated supervillains who perform secret missions for the U.S. government in exchange for reduced prison sentences. While most villains would grudgingly accept this proposition in the hopes of being freed early or just to buy their time until they can escape, it’s unlikely Joker would choose either of these options. He’s a psychopathic killer who thrives on chaos and rarely works well with others. Even when he has formed alliances, it’s usually ended up with him screwing over the partner. The government knows this and wouldn’t risk endangering a mission by adding someone is unpredictable and has no qualms about killing his teammates, even if it means he gets killed in the process. Joker and teamwork do not mix.
Fortunately, Joker still has a connection with the team through his henchwoman/girlfriend Harley Quinn. Since the New 52 began, she has been one of the main members of the Squad, and she was drafted into the group after a falling-out with Joker. Although earlier drafts of the film didn’t include Harley, director David Ayer has reportedly rewritten the script, and actresses like Margot Robbie and Cara Delevingne have been rumored to play her. Joker’s role in the film may be relegated to setting up what Harley’s life is like before she is recruited into the Squad. His inclusion would also tease a future appearance in one of the Batman solo films.
Still, Warner Bros. may not want to use Leto for only a minor appearance, which is why it’s possible Joker may be included as one of the main villains. Similar to the animated movie Batman: Assault on Arkham, the film’s Squad will be sent to take out Joker when he threatens slaughter civilians. Batman has been around long enough that the authorities are familiar with his no-kill rule, so it’s up to them to snuff out the crazed clown. Obviously they won’t succeed since it would be sacrilegious to kill Joker before he appears in a Batman film, but it would be interesting to see how far the team gets to pulling the trigger.
Suicide Squad is an odd choice for introducing Batman’s greatest nemesis into the DC Cinematic Universe, but if David Ayer and the creative team do their job right, this might be one of the most unique Joker roles audiences will ever see.