Why Suicide Squad Director's 'Heart Breaks' For Jared Leto

Jared Leto as Joker in Suicide Squad

Plenty of actors have portrayed The Joker in live action and animation over the years, and among the more polarizing takes on the Clown Prince of Crime is Jared Leto’s version in Suicide Squad. In addition to this Joker’s look drawing a lot of criticism, Leto’s incarnation of Batman’s greatest adversary didn’t get that much screen time in Task Force X’s first cinematic outing, with him being a supporting character at best.

Fast forward four years, director and writer David Ayer recently shared that he’s disappointed not just by how Jared Leto’s Joker was received, but by how little of it got to be seen by the public. As the filmmaker put it:

David Ayer’s comment about Jared Leto’s Joker was part of a larger conversation that started when a fan suggested that he’d be a good fit for a movie about DC Comics hero The Question. From there, the discussion shifted to The Joker’s ‘Damaged’ forehead tattoo, which was among the many critiqued aspects of the character.

While the ‘Damaged’ tattoo went unexplained in Suicide Squad, David Ayer revealed after the movie’s release that Joker got it after his teeth were smashed out by Batman in retaliation for Joker killing Jason Todd, a.k.a. Robin. Ayer also noted ahead of Suicide Squad’s release that he gave Joker tattoos is because he took inspiration from “drug lords on Instagram.” That, combined with the more modern comics influence that Ayer mentioned in his Twitter post, and you get the DC Extended Universe’s Joker, who’s been clashing with Batman for years by the time Suicide Squad kicks off.

In any case, David Ayer is heartbroken that Jared Leto’s Joker was not just one of the more divisive elements of Suicide Squad, but that audiences didn’t get to see more of the actor’s work on that project. Altogether, Joker’s only present in the movie for about seven minutes, with him primarily being around to show how Dr. Harleen Quinzel became corrupted and his attempts to free her from Task Force X.

Although a few more Joker scenes were thrown into Suicide Squad’s extended cut for home media, evidently there’s a lot more footage that still hasn’t been shown to the public. Leto was reportedly displeased by how little of his Joker work was shown in Suicide Squad’s theatrical cut, and with the direction the DCEU is going now, it doesn’t look like the actor will be reprising the Clown Prince of Crime anytime soon, if at all.

When we left off with Joker in Suicide Squad, he and his goons had successfully broken Harley Quinn out of Belle Reve, and it looked like they were ready to live their happily ever after. However, as of Birds of Prey, the two have broken up, with Harley not wanting anything more to do with “Mistah J” and charting a new life path. We’ll reunite with her next year in The Suicide Squad.

So with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn doing her own thing now, and a new Batman continuity being established in Matt ReevesThe Batman, the chances of Jared Leto’s Joker returning seem slim. Plus, Leto is now taking part in another superhero franchise, as he’s starring in next year’s Morbius, the second entry of the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters.

The Suicide Squad charges into theaters on August 6, 2021. Don’t forget to look through our DC movies guide to learn what else this corner of the superhero movies realm has coming down the creative pipeline.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.