The Joker is such an elemental comic book villain that any new version is bound to be compared to previous iterations. It’s rare, then, that an actor would get to play two versions of the character in the span of a few years, but such is the blessed life of one Jared Leto. As part of the run-up to the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the director has revealed the first images of the new version of Leto’s take on the Clown Prince of Crime to Vanity Fair. The results are more than a little gloomy.
You might remember the original Leto Joker for his tattoos — in particular, the delicately printed “damaged” on his forehead or the variety of “hahahahahas” on his body. That version of the character from Suicide Squad was an edgy, annoying boyfriend to Harley Quinn, but he’s grown up a bit in Snyder’s new / old film, seemingly losing his iconic tattoos.
The new version of the character features longer hair and more aggressive makeup (maybe that’s what’s covering the tattoos?), and Leto also seems to have ditched the over-the-top wardrobe in favor of some kind of hospital gown, face mask, and gloves.
A more “adult” take on DC characters is sort of Snyder’s MO, but grounded versions of the Joker have also proved popular recently. The entirely separate film continuity of Todd Phillip’s Joker ended up being so well-received that it was nominated for a slew of awards at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture, with Joaquin Phoenix winning Best Actor for his portrayal of the character. The new Leto Joker could very well be carrying some of that “seriousness” forward.
The inclusion of the Joker was announced last year as one of Snyder’s new additions to his Justice League director’s cut. The director has now revealed that the character will appear in a very specific, apocalyptic section of the film, according to Vanity Fair.
Spoilers for Zack Snyder’s Justice League below:
Joker appears in the new film during a sequence set on a ruined Earth after the alien tyrant Darkseid invades and decimates the planet. It’s a dream sequence, a psychic vision, experienced by Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne that reveals what will happen if the superheroes fail to stop the onslaught. Joker is sort of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, supplying motivation through terror.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be released on HBO Max on March 18th.