Warning: “Suicide Squad” spoilers ahead.
The Joker is not just one of the best comic-book characters ever created. He also happens to be box-office gold.
Jack Nicholson’s Joker helped pave the way for the success of “The Dark Knight.” I will never forget seeing Tim Burton’s “Batman” in theatres in 1989 and the audience clapping when Nicholson said his famous line, “Wait ’til they get a load of me.” He was a villain you rooted for.
Heath Ledger turned the character into a horrific madman in “The Dark Knight” in 2008, which led to him winning an Oscar. His death put an even darker cloud over the whole film, but its legacy lasts.
Jared Leto is the latest, and though he’s quite impressive as the Clown Prince of Crime, I wish the DC Comics bigwigs didn’t unveil him in “Suicide Squad.”
The much-anticipated movie about a group of bad guys who are brought together “The Dirty Dozen”-style to save the world (opening in theatres on Friday) has gotten a few negative reviews, as you may have noticed. The biggest problem I have is that the filmmakers tried to jam too much into the movie, including a Joker subplot.
In fact, shoehorning the Joker into the movie feels so forced, I was upset every time he showed up on the screen. I didn’t know that was possible.
It doesn’t help that almost every Joker scene in the movie has already been shown in the trailers and TV spots.
A little background: The Joker is not actually part of the Suicide Squad. He is, though, the main squeeze of squad member Harley Quinn (played perfectly by Margot Robbie). Since Quinn has been caught by Batman (Ben Affleck) and taken to a maximum-security prison, the Joker has been trying to get her back. The formation of the Suicide Squad gives him his chance to nab her.
So while writer-director David Ayer has to juggle the storylines of seven characters that make up the squad, he also has to plug in the Joker/Quinn relationship and the Joker freeing her. It’s completely out of place and not needed for a movie that’s mostly about bad guys finding a common ground.
And this is nothing against Jared Leto’s Joker. He’s perfect for the role and I want to see more of him. But it would have been much better for the story if we never saw the Joker and he were only mentioned by name. If Quinn had mentioned the Joker once or twice, I would have have gotten goosebumps. Building on his already sky-high persona, and then revealing him in the next standalone Batman movie, would have been incredible.
Leto’s Joker is a wasted opportunity, used in a movie where there’s so much else happening.
Now I know much of the decision here is based on pure business motive. Would you be as excited about “Suicide Squad” if the Joker weren’t in it?
The character is iconic and completely works on the screen. Jared Leto couldn’t have been a better actor to carry the torch. But the worst thing in an ensemble movie is a character who seems utterly out of place, and that’s what the Joker is in “Suicide Squad.”
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