The Suicide Squad featured most of the cast from the first film, except Jared Leto as the Joker. Here’s why he wasn’t part of the sequel.
James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad features most of the cast from the first film, except for Jared Leto as the Joker – here’s why. The plans of DC’s Extended Universe haven’t gone as expected, with its first wave of films, which began in 2013 through Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, not performing as the studio wanted, pushing them to rethink their plans for future films and make a lot of changes. DC’s movie universe will continue to explore the stories of characters that have already been introduced, such as Shazam and Aquaman in their respective sequels, and will retcon others, as is the case of the Dark Knight in Matt Reeves’ The Batman.
Others, however, are going through a change that isn’t really a retcon but will give a much-needed twist to what has already been established. Such is the case of The Suicide Squad, the standalone sequel/soft reboot to David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, which introduced a group of antiheroes formed by Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, El Diablo, Killer Croc, and Slipknot. The film also introduced a new Joker, played by Jared Leto, who was more a crime boss covered in tattoos and with an over-the-top attitude than the psychopath, criminal mastermind DC fans know and love. This version of the Joker wasn’t well-received by critics and audiences and, apart from Leto’s brief appearance as the Joker in the Knightmare future of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the DCEU has been doing its best to separate itself from it.
As mentioned above, The Suicide Squad isn’t a direct sequel to Ayer’s film. It doesn’t feature the same team and it doesn’t address the events of the first movie. However, the 2021 movie features Margot Robbie’s beloved portrayal of Harley Quinn, as well as the strong performances of Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, who return for a new mission. Among the characters from Ayer’s Suicide Squad that aren’t in the sequel, the Joker is one of the most notable. The DCEU began moving away from Leto’s Joker with Birds of Prey, which followed Harley Quinn’s life after their break up, only mentioning the Joker briefly and just for context. Although it had been speculated that the poor reception of Jared Leto’s performance as the Clown Prince of Crime was the main reason why he didn’t reprise his role, James Gunn explained (via NY Times) that, in terms of the film’s narrative, there was no place for the Joker in The Suicide Squad, as he “wouldn’t be helpful in that type of war situation.”
The Joker has never really been part of Task Force X, so his absence isn’t surprising from that point of view, either. And since Harley Quinn is forging her own path without him, there is really no need to feature Batman’s nemesis in the Suicide Squad’s wacky battle against Starro. With the prospect of David Ayer’s Suicide Squad cut more likely after the release of The Suicide Squad, the chances of seeing more of Jared Leto’s Joker are a bit higher. Still, that wouldn’t change the direction the DCEU is taking with The Suicide Squad and other upcoming movies which don’t include Leto’s Joker.
James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad has earned a very positive reception without the presence of DC’s most iconic villain. If Warner Bros. changes its mind about Leto’s Joker in the future or not remains to be seen, but for now, the Joker doesn’t have a place in the DCEU as the upcoming films don’t need him. Besides, viewers could also use a break from the character, even if Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in Todd Phillips’ Joker was widely praised.
- The Suicide Squad (2021)Release date: Aug 06, 2021
- The Batman (2022)Release date: Mar 04, 2022
- Black Adam (2022)Release date: Jul 29, 2022
- DC League of Super-Pets (2022)Release date: May 20, 2022
- The Flash (2022)Release date: Nov 04, 2022
- Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)Release date: Jun 02, 2023
- Aquaman 2 (2022)Release date: Dec 16, 2022
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