Jared Leto as the Joker was destined to be compared to the version performed by the late Heath Ledger. There was just no getting around it. As someone whose familiarity with the character goes beyond the 2008 live action Joker, I confess it’s a little annoying.
Understandable, but still annoying.
The only live action version prior to Heath Ledger as the Joker came from Jack Nicholson in 1989. That probably makes the Ledger version probably the only one that a generation or two of movie fans are remotely familiar with. Coupled with Heath Ledger’s tragic death, his role cemented his association with the psychotic Batman nemesis forever.
Nostalgia often means that people rewrite a point of view and revise their take on characters and actors. I clearly and distinctly remembered that when Heath Ledger was announced for the role of the Joker, many people were deeply offended. The reaction wasn’t unlike that of how people have reacted to Jared Leto since he was announced.
For my part, I thought that Jared Leto’s physical profile is probably the truest to the comic character we’ve seen since Cesar Romero. I think Romero strongly resembled the Joker from the comics during his time in the ’60s Batman TV show. Jared Leto, if you glimpse the modern (and very dark) Joker, also seems to be pulling from the comics. The comics and not Heath Ledger.
What makes Jared as the Joker interesting to me is that I honestly think his version will be the most terrifying that we’ve ever seen outside of the comics. It’s not that the on-screen Jokers before him weren’t killers. Jack Nicholson’s Joker committed mass murder and Health Ledger “fridged” Batman/Bruce Wayne’s love interest.
What sets Leto apart? Well, his Joker won. Let that sink in for a minute. No matter how deranged or fatal the Joker has been in previous versions, we knew that Batman would be there to stop him. This Joker hit Batman where it hurts, and he left the superhero business. Despite the violence previous Jokers have dished out, we’ve never experienced a reality where the Joker is there in all his menacing glory, and there’s no Batman to stop him.
— Blue Joker ΔOX (@BlueJoker_) July 11, 2015
This is a Joker who’s not only a brutal killer and psychopath, but the depraved nature of his violence seems like it’s going to be much more personal — as it was against Batman and Robin.
You get that sense when you see Jared’s character torturing someone in the teaser. Certain flashed images in the Suicide Squad trailer strongly suggest that the victim is Harley Quinn. However, the way it’s shot it almost appears as though you, the audience member, is the intended victim.
There’s just something about Leto as the Joker that seems all too realistic. I think that level of realism may be what sets this version of the character apart. It probably won’t stop the Health Ledger comparisons, but at least it will let Jared Leto shine in his own right.
— Indy Film (@TheIndyFilm) July 14, 2015
What do you think of Jared Leto as the Joker? Share your thoughts below!
[Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/YouTube]