It has been nearly four years since David Ayer’s Suicide Squad hit cinemas. After all this time and the notable wave of criticism, director David Ayer has said his heart still breaks for Jared Leto.
Ayer recently shared several behind-the-scenes snippets from the 2016 ensemble and expressed his own personal thoughts on Leto’s short-lived tenure as the Joker. Posting on Twitter, Ayer described character creation as “a tightrope” and how he tried to take inspiration from DC Comics. Discussing Leto’s role as the Clown Prince of Crime, Ayer added, “I find it incredible it’s still such a topic 5 years later. My heart breaks for Jared – he did magnificent work. Most of it remains unseen.”
Suicide Squad underwent major changes between filming and its theatrical release. Although Leto’s Joker featured prominently in the trailer, the character had a lot of his scenes cut. In 2016, Leto lamented that “a lot of scenes” from Suicide Squad were left on the cutting room floor but hoped they would eventually see the light of day.
There were reports Leto and Robbie — whose performance as Harley Quinn was widely-praised — would reunite for a spinoff movie. Elsewhere, plans for a possible Joker standalone with Leto taking the lead also slipped into development hell. Since then, Joaquin Phoenix has portrayed Mr. J in the Oscar-winning standalone film, Joker, while Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey brought back Harley and conveniently glossed over Leto’s version. After learning about Joker, Leto stated he felt “alienated and upset” by Warner Bros.’s failure to notify him about what was going on with the character.
There were plenty of criticisms over Leto’s Joker, with critics disagreeing with his gangster look, comprised of tattoos and a metal grill. However, Leto reportedly threw himself into the role in terms of method acting, going so far as to give his co-stars gruesome gifts in an effort to channel the Joker. Ayer recently revealed that there was more to Joker than just tattoos and confirmed the long-held theory that his frightening look related to his past with Batman.
Unfortunately, Joker’s reduction to supporting character in Suicide Squad did not allow him to connect with the audience. Though Leto has not officially retired from the DCEU, James Gunn is currently moving forward with the upcoming The Suicide Squad and there is no sign of Joker playing a part.
Written and directed by James Gunn, The Suicide Squad stars Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, David Dastmalchian, John Cena, Joaquin Cosio, Nathan Fillion, Mayling Ng, Flula Borg, Sean Gunn, Juan Diego Botto, Storm Reid, Pete Davidson, Taika Waititi, Alice Braga, Steve Agee, Tinashe Kajese, Daniela Melchior, Peter Capaldi, Julio Ruiz, Jennifer Holland, Idris Elba and Michael Rooker. The film is currently scheduled for an August 6, 2021 release date.
Suicide Squad's David Ayer has opened up about Jared Leto's heavily-criticized version of the Joker.