Ever since the first promotional photo of Jared Leto as The Joker surfaced last year, fans have been very critical about the version of the Clown Prince of Crime that appears in ‘Suicide Squad‘. More specifically, they weren’t very receptive to the infamous DC villain’s new ink. Criticisms ranged from disappointed eye-rolls to comparisons to dollar store temporary tattoos. But no matter what you may think of them, the film’s director David Ayer says that there is a very important reason for the Jester of Genocide’s new look.

While speaking to Yahoo Movies UK recently, Ayer revealed that Joker’s body art is reflective of the world we live in rather than the ones created in the pages of our favorite comic books. The filmmaker shares that he opted to give the icon the look of a more modern miscreant. However, the images on the antagonist’s skin also give us an insight into this iteration of the character and what he has gone through in his life:

The Joker Suicide Squad tattoos“A lot of it has to do with creating a character with some kind of history and footprint in our world. And not have this sacrosanct being outside of our continuum, our reality. If a guy like him really existed today, where would he come from? How would he do business? Who would he know? What would he look like? In my mind, I took a lot of inspiration from drug lords on Instagram. It’s a great way to understand the lifestyle of a villain. The tattoos tell a very specific story. And eventually people will decipher them and understand what’s going on, but obviously they’re contentious, any time you do something new it’s contentious. There’s very specific stories and easter eggs in those tattoos. And even his teeth, there’s an entire story behind that which is absolutely canon. It’s putting his history on his body. This Joker is a little more working class, who I believe could live in our world.”

Honestly, that’s a pretty poor choice of words on Ayer’s part since he makes it sound like people with tattoos are living “the lifestyle of a villain”, but it’s easy to understand what he’s attempting to go for here. Most people don’t get tattoos without a reason and Leto’s Joker is no different. Let’s just hope that the background stories behind the tattoos are better than the tattoos themselves look. 

What do you think about David Ayer’s explanation of The Joker’s tattoos in ‘Suicide Squad’? Do you have any guesses about the stories behind them? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below.

‘Suicide Squad’ starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Viola Davis, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Adam Beach, Jay Hernandez,  Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, and Karen Fukahara hits theaters on August 5, 2016.

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