You saw the ads for well over a year: Suicide Squad was going to be the greatest comic book film of all time. Arriving in a trailer with background vocals from Queen, it saved its best shot for last: Jared Leto as an unhinged and original version of the Joker.
Over the 18 months between first trailer and the film’s premier, Warner Brothers and DC, however, decided that Leto’s performance was anything but watchable.
Joker was almost completely cut from the film, and Leto has not taken it quietly. “Were there any that didn’t get cut? I’m asking you, were there any that didn’t get cut?” he said in an interview with IGN. “There were so many scenes that got cut from the movie, I couldn’t even start. I think that the Joker… we did a lot of experimentation on the set, we explored a lot. There’s so much that we shot that’s not in the film.”
Stories about his antics on the set surfaced last week, in an apparent attempt at explaining just how over the top his performance got. As a method actor Leto lived his role 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That included sending a dead pig to the set to… scare? Inspire? Threaten? Whatever the intended effect, it didn’t result in a big story line for the Joker, whose love interest Harley Quinn was the only other interesting thing about the film. Unfortunately, that story was just a brief interlude.
True to form, Leto hasn’t been shy about the brilliance of his performance.
“I brought so much to the table in every scene,” Leto said to Edith Bowman of Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review. “I wanted to give a lot of options. I think there’s probably enough footage in this film for a Joker movie if I were to die tomorrow. Maybe the studio would roll something out — a rated-R or rated-X performance in there somewhere… I always wished this film was rated R. I actually said that when we were starting it.”
Leto seems to be referring to Heath Ledger in this statement, both in his role as the Joker as well as his untimely death during filming of Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight. Many fans believe these statements crossed the line. Of course Leto has a lot of big paydays to look forward to, since he’s signed up to play the Joker in Ben Affleck’s Batman.
Speaking of the Caped Crusader, word on the street is that Affleck is pleased that Suicide Squad is scoring with the Box Office but getting beat up with critics. After two critical failures in Suicide Squad and Batman vs. Superman, Affleck grabbed greater creative control for his film, and is said to relish the idea of getting the glory of leading DC out of the creative wilderness.