As ‘Joker’ nears the $800 million mark at the global box office, plenty of people at Warner Brothers are celebrating. One person who surely isn’t is Jared Leto, the last actor to play the Clown Prince of Crime on the big screen, in 2016’s ‘Suicide Squad’. During the making of ‘Suicide Squad’, there was a lot of buzz about Leto’s performance, which he really threw himself into. Reportedly, he remained in-character on set, and disturbed his co-stars with “gifts” such as a live rat to Margot Robbie, bullets to Will Smith, and a dead pig to the entire cast. There was talk of Leto’s Joker possibly getting his own movie, and co-starring in a movie with Robbie’s Harley Quinn.
But things went south very quickly, after ‘Suicide Squad’ wound up being almost universally disliked. For all the hype about Leto and his method approach to the character, his Joker wound up only appearing for about ten minutes, mostly in a flashback to Harley Quinn’s origin.
Said one insider:
“In his defense, it was never really his movie, but his attempt to ‘invent’ a place for himself and it backfired.”
‘Suicide Squad’ underperformed at the box office, on the heels of ‘Batman V Superman’s failure, and before ‘Justice League’s. Things quickly unraveled behind the scenes of Warner Brothers’ DC franchise.
Then came Todd Phillips’ ‘Joker’, which Leto actively tried to kill. Reportedly, WB was worried about the darkness of the script, and only agreed to make ‘Joker’ on a small budget of $50 million, a figure that, according to The Hollywood Reporter, was so low that WB was hoping that Phillips would choose not to make it. It didn’t work.
Leto attempted to involve his music manager (Leto is the lead singer of 30 Seconds to Mars), Irving Azoff, to stop the project but that proved unsuccessful. Azoff and Leto are no longer working together. He also reportedly shifted through four different management teams at the Creative Artists Agency. He felt that as an Academy Award winner (he won an Oscar for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’) that his representatives should have fought harder for his version of the Joker, and squashed Phillips’ film. Leto is no longer with CAA and has moved over to Endeavor (formerly the William Morris Agency).
Of the “old guard” of DC actors, only Ben Affleck (Batman) has publically declared that he is done. Henry Cavill is not expected to return as Superman, but he has not publically stated that he is finished, and WB has not officially dismissed him. Ezra Miller appears to have signed a new contract to play The Flash after his prior agreement expired. Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa‘s solo movies were successful and they are returning.
Margot Robbie will be back as Harley Quinn in both next year’s ‘Birds of Prey’ and 2021’s ‘The Suicide Squad’. Most of Leto’s co-stars from the first ‘Suicide Squad’ are also coming back for that movie, with the notable exception of Will Smith, but that door isn’t closed. Idris Elba was hired to replace Smith, but later it was decided to re-write his role as a new character, which would allow Smith to return in the future.
Leto, meanwhile, shifted over to Sony to star in ‘Morbius’, based on the Marvel Comics character. It is unknown whether or not he would come back if WB wanted him, but that is doubtful, as everyone is buzzing that Joaquin Phoenix is a shoo-in come awards season for his portrayal of the Joker in ‘Joker’.
As another insider said:
“How do you play the Joker you established following [Phoenix]? It kind of ends his Joker run.”
What do you think? Would you still like to see Leto’s Joker make a return?