It would only seem right that a world class showman would portray arguably the most flamboyant and theatrical comic book character of all time: The Joker. Tasked with bringing the newest iteration of the Clown Prince of Crime to the big screen in next year’s “Suicide Squad,” Jared Leto has slowly teased bits and pieces of the character to fans eager to take it all in.

 

Leto has an unenviable task ahead of him; the three different live-action portrayals of The Joker that preceded him — Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and Heath Ledger — have all become iconic in their own rights. To make his take on the character successful, Leto needs to give audiences something they have never seen before, while still remaining true to the spirit of the character. From the looks of things so far, he definitely seems on the right track.

 

The Joker has a legendary cinematic legacy (sodahead.com)

The Joker has a legendary cinematic legacy (sodahead.com)

In terms of honoring source material, it would appear that Leto has clearly done his homework on the character. Using the Instagram account of “Suicide Squad” director David Ayer, Leto recently released a photo of himself holding an old-fashioned film camera vertically to his eye. To the casual observer, this would appear minor, but adept comic book readers easily recognized this as an homage to the famous Alan Moore story, “The Killing Joke.” Considered a quintessential Batman story, “The Killing Joke” has become legendary among comic book readers for showcasing the truly sadistic nature of The Joker, but also insinuating his ambiguous — and possibly tragic — origins. Displaying this level of knowledge and reverence for classic source material goes a long way towards easing any possible fan concerns about his commitment to the role.

 

Leto capturing the spirit of the classic Joker story "The Killing Joke" (theverge.com)

Leto capturing the spirit of the classic Joker story “The Killing Joke” (theverge.com)

Aside from “The Killing Joke,” the filmmakers also seem to take clear inspiration from a Frank Miller classic: “The Dark Knight Returns.” Like in that graphic novel, The Joker will likely have a long, violent history with Ben Affleck’s Batman — something which has never really been done on the big screen before — and seems to borrow several plot points, such as his murder of Robin.

In a recent interview, Leto disclosed that his role preparation involved gaining considerable weight, possibly indicating that the threat his Joker poses will be physical, as well as mental; this has happened only a few times in the comics — “The Dark Knight Returns” being one of them.

Despite all of the inspiration and research, Leto still has to make it his own. In his own words, he has described his version of The Joker as “Shakespearean” and a “beautiful disaster”; these descriptions don’t really fit the mold of what we have already seen, so it only adds to the excitement. Rumors that his Joker will spend the film in captivity add further to the fresh, sinister, Hannibal Lecter-esque approach.

At a recent concert for his band 30 Seconds to Mars, Leto addressed the crowd in deep, snarling voice that many have assumed is a tease for the speech patterns of his version of the Joker.

 

A far-cry from Cesar Romero’s light-hearted prankster, or Heath Ledger’s ultra-realistic terrorist, Leto may bring something completely new to comic book cinema that audiences have never seen.

 

Are you a Joker fan? Who is your favorite actor to portray the supervillain? Comment below or tweet @connerws to keep the conversation going!