David Ayer would like to be left out of this whole Joker mess, thank you very much. The Suicide Squad director took to Twitter to defend himself in the wake of a report that Jared Leto’s role as the Joker in Suicide Squad was severely reduced because Ayer was unhappy with his performance. It’s just the latest development in a strange drama that has played out after the success of Joker, the hit origin story starring Joaquin Phoenix. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Leto was none too thrilled when Warner Bros. put a solo Joker film into production that did not star him, after Suicide Squad made nearly $750 million dollars at the global box office. Leto famously committed to the role; some people, like his co-stars, might say he was a little too committed, with the actors reportedly being gifted rats, bullets, and dead pigs as part of Leto’s “method” approach to playing the Joker. But Leto’s depiction of the Joker left many DC fans unimpressed.
The fact that Leto’s screen time was limited to only about ten minutes in Suicide Squad’s final cut probably ended up benefiting the film. But if the quality of the actor’s performance had anything to do with that decision, the director isn’t coming clean about it. In response to a fan who asked him on Twitter if the report was true, Ayer simply responded, “This is inaccurate information. Not my words or actions.” THR’s reporting has detailed how Leto was upset over Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker movie being put into development before either of his own Joker-centric projects – a solo movie for his Joker, and a team-up with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn – had come to pass. He reportedly fumed about the situation to his agents, and allegedly went so far as to ask one of his well-connected buddies – Irving Azoff, his music manager – to put in a call to Warner Bros. brass in an attempt to get Phoenix’s Joker killed. Joker, of course, has gone on to make roughly all of the money, while becoming the most talked-about film of the fall. Meanwhile, both films set to feature his Joker are now apparently dead in the water.
The latest trailer for 2020’s Birds of Prey opens with Harley Quinn stating flatly that she dumped the Joker, just as unceremoniously as Warner Bros. appears to have done. So, what are the chances that Leto will eventually return to the role? Well, nothing’s official yet, and it’s worth noting that Leto still maintains a professional relationship with Warner Bros, and is currently shooting the crime thriller Little Things for the studio. That said, we’re definitely thinking that Leto’s turn as the Joker will prove to be a one-and-done. With Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker movie also being widely described as a standalone project, it’s possible the next time we see the Joker, it will be a whole new actor under the makeup. But no matter who eventually gets recast as the Joker, we know one thing: it’s gotta happen eventually.
Assuming Jared Leto doesn’t sneakily show up in Birds of Prey somehow, it seems possible that the next iteration of the character won’t happen until we get a sequel to Matt Reeves’ The Batman, set to hit theaters in 2021. That movie, starring Robert Pattinson in the lead role, seems to be packing its cast with tons of villains from Batman’s Rogues’ Gallery. But so far, we’ve heard nothing about a Joker appearance. With no other movies featuring the character having been announced yet, it looks like the live-action Joker might be resting for awhile. But he’s not necessarily done with comic book movies, with his turn as Morbius, the Living Vampire set to debut in Sony’s Marvel universe in 2020. So as long as he can keep from mailing dead bats to his co-stars on that movie, he should get along just fine.