Posted by: themoviecheese | July 14, 2015

Why You Shouldn’t Be Worried About Jared Leto’s Joker

Why You Shouldn’t Be Worried About Jared Leto’s Joker

by Tom Stewart

It’s safe to say that Jared Leto’s version of the Joker from the upcoming Suicide Squad movie has fallen under a fair bit of scrutiny. That scrutiny has become even larger now that a full trailer for Suicide Squad is available. Of course, this is just stupid, and I’m here to address each of the most common complaints people seem to have with his version of the character…

1. It’s just Heath Ledger all over again
No, it really isn’t. He has short hair, tattoos, metal dentures, and bleached skin (as opposed to the face paint in Ledger’s version). Or are you referring to the squeaky voice and sociopathic attitude? So you’d prefer your Joker to have a deep voice and a heroic posture?

2. He doesn’t look like the “source material”
This seems to be the most common complaint…his “look”. Whether it’s the tattoos (more on that later), or the metal dentures, people just don’t seem to be happy about his look at all. Here’s the thing…Jared Leto’s Joker looks A LOT more like the “source material” than Heath Ledger did. That’s a monumental fact.

Here is The Joker (from his current visual interpretation in the comics)…


And here is Heath Ledger and Jared Leto side by side. Which one looks more like the above picture? Honestly.


Also, when you say “source material”, what do you mean exactly? Because every single DC comic book featuring The Joker has each had a distinctively different looking Joker. Just like how he’s always been distinctively different in live action films also. The below pictures are a great example of how there really isn’t a “source material” where the Joker’s comic roots are concerned, more a basic template, as artists will always alter his appearance just as film makers will.


3. The tattoos
At first glance, this seems like the biggest change to Joker’s usual look. However, firstly let’s not forget that this isn’t the first time the Joker has been seen with tattoos…


Secondly, I would disagree with the statement that tattoos are “against Joker as a character”. The “damaged” tattoo on his forehead is the only one I really have a problem with. The rest can very easily be analyzed. I can very easily envision Joker and Harley Quinn sat in a dark room somewhere fucking around with a tattoo gun, whilst laughing maniacally. Or perhaps he did them whilst locked up in Arkham to pass the boredom. In the new Batman vs Superman trailer, Batman says “20 years in Gotham, how many good guys are left?”, meaning he has been Batman for a full 20 years – Joker must have been locked up at some point during that time. It’s also heavily hinted that Joker has killed Jason Todd/Robin before the events of both films as he did in the comics, so perhaps that is why he was locked up, and maybe he did the tattoos as a way of marking what he sees as a great achievement in his games against Batman. That is precisely the kind of fucked up thing the Joker would do.

4. Jared Leto can’t act
I don’t know where this comes from, I really don’t. Dallas Buyer’s Club, American Psycho, Chapter 27, Requiem for a Dream – Leto’s resume is chock full of outstanding, award-winning performances. He is a great versatile actor who has shown ultra range again and again. If you genuinely think he is a “bad” actor, well…well you’re just plain wrong.

In Conclusion

That’s really all anyone is complaining about. The thing about the Joker is that he has no backstory, no history and no build up. He is simply a nameless sociopath who could literally be anybody, providing they have the right amount of crazy – which Leto has in SPADES. I never get when people say “[insert new actor to play the Joker here] doesn’t look like the Joker!” Well… which Joker? Dark Knight Returns Joker? Batman Noel Joker? Arkham franchise Joker? Golden/silver age Joker? 90s Joker? New52 Joker? Killing Joke Joker? Jack Nicholson Joker? Cesar Romero Joker? Heath Ledger Joker? The various different animated series Jokers? He’s had so many different appearances and looks and personalities, that honestly the only things that remain the same are the white face, the red lips, the green hair and the manic facial expressions, which – again – Leto has in spades. The problem here is that after Ledger, Leto has a serious fan base to please. Being such a well loved character, everyone seems to have this cookie-cutter idea of what “their” Joker should look like. But guess what? He’s not “your” Joker, and the character has had more visual interpretations that most other comic book characters around. “This Joker should be [this]”, “The Joker should be [that]”. No, the Joker shouldn’t be anything, because the very nature of his character means he’s capable of everything.

Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments section below, and as always thanks for reading!


  1. This is a great post addressing the concerns about Leto. I love Ledger and think whoever had the job of following him (as it was inevitable at some point) had a tough job because he was so good.

    But I think if anyone can do it justice it is Leto, who is devoted to every character he portrays! There is a reason he won an oscar! He will be intentionally different to minimise the obvious direct comparison. But he will still be true to what the joker is – I hope!

  2. He’s a true method actor, and I think everyone has either forgotten that or never even knew it.

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