The Suicide Squad Director James Gunn Has Pegged His Favorite Joker Actor

Batman: The Animated Series' Joker grins.

There are endless debates to be had about comic book characters. We can rank the best and the worst of every detail until we’re blue in the face -- and then seek out other people’s opinions so we can feel validated. While you can’t really say anyone’s opinion is worth more than someone else’s, there’s definitely something to be said for asking someone who’s in the business of making comic book stories. So it was interesting to find out which actor The Suicide Squad’s director, James Gunn, thinks did the best job of playing the Joker.

During a recent Instagram Q&A, a fan asked James Gunn who his favorite Joker is. Let’s be honest, that’s a deceptively difficult question to answer. In the past couple of decades, we’ve seen a wide range of portrayals of the iconic DC Comics villain. There was Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning turn in The Dark Knight and Jared Leto’s controversial performance in Suicide Squad. There are also plenty of other classic portrayals, like Cesar Romero and Jack Nicholson, to choose from. James Gunn’s answer, however, was about as simple as you can get:

Probably Joaquin

Joaquin, of course, of the Phoenix clan, who recently won an Oscar for his portrayal of the Clown Prince in last year’s Joker. Though the film was certainly controversial, most people tend to agree that Joaquin Phoenix turned in an unforgettable performance.

Some fans may have expected James Gunn to show some allegiance to his Suicide Squad family and pick Jared Leto. However, if you follow the director at all, his choice probably isn’t exactly a surprise. Back in October, when he was filming The Suicide Squad, he took members of the cast to see Joker in theaters, and it seems like they left with a pretty favorable impression.

There’s also the fact that when James Gunn announced the cast for The Suicide Squad, Jared Leto's name was nowhere to be found. Since then, he’s offered a very reasonable explanation for why he chose not to include the Joker in his reboot of the 2016 -- and made it clear that it has nothing to do with the actor who played him. Hey, the fact that he chose to make what appears to be a Joker-free movie only speaks to the fact that he could remain pretty impartial about the whole thing.

The Instagram Q&A is one of many ways James Gunn has stayed connected with fans during this time. In the past few weeks, he’s done everything from recommending a #QuarantineAndChill queue to revealing his, um, unique stash of toilet paper. In addition to offering his Joker-related opinion, James Gunn has also answered fans’ questions about the future of The Suicide Squad movie, and he was pretty upfront about the fact that he doesn’t know what will happen, since everything is on hold right now.

We’ll see what the future brings -- and how many other controversial questions James Gunn can answer -- as the next few weeks unfold. The Joker-less The Suicide Squad is still scheduled to hit theaters on August 6, 2021.

Katherine Webb