Possible ‘Suicide Squad’ sacrilege: Jared Leto as the Joker

December 3, 2014

 


Would could ruin Heath Ledger’s legacy? This guy! (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Warner Bros. announced the cast for the long-awaited superfriends film “Suicide Squad” today. As the Associated Press reported, Will Smith will star as Deadshot; Tom Hardy will play the group’s leader, Rick Flagg; Margot Robbie will play Harley Quinn; Jai Courtney will play Boomerang; and Cara Delevinge will play Enchantress in the film adaptation of the storied comic book.

And — head snap — Jared Leto will play the Joker.

Heath Ledger — the most legendary Joker in the history of the “Batman” universe, if not in the history of comics on film — has been dead for six years, but it feels too soon for this.

Obligatory paragraph pointing out the formidable talents of Jared Leto, 42-year-old Louisiana native and Capricorn: He won an Academy Award for his role as Rayon, the transgender HIV patient in “Dallas Buyers Club.” He gained approximately 1 million pounds to play John Lennon assassin Mark David Chapman, even though the result — “Chapter 27” — was a rotten tomato. And “Requiem for a Dream” was unforgettable.

Leto is, not incidentally, incredibly handsome, even if you don’t love long tresses.

But this long-haired dramaturgic wizard has a dark side: his terrible band, Thirty Seconds to Mars — further proof that most actors shouldn’t play music.

The New York Daily News summed it up: “Like U2 with a serious brain injury.”

Now, let it be known: Thirty Seconds to Mars has a legion of fans. It has sold millions of records. And in a legal battle with Virgin Records, it emerged as the good guy.

It’s undeniable: If you are devoted to Thirty Seconds to Mars, this article is not for you.

But the discerning reader — and listener — knows that the existence of Thirty Seconds to Mars shows that we can’t quite trust Jared Leto. In one year, he can turn in a generous supporting performance as Rayon that makes a less-gifted lead actor and Lincoln pitchman look amazing. In another, he can make a record like “Love Lust Faith + Dreams.”

The Observer: “If Derek Zoolander made a record it would sound like Thirty Seconds to Mars: stadium rock so vapid and bombastic that if frontman Jared Leto were pulling off some kind of long-duration joke it would be genius.”

So it is with great worry about Ledger’s legacy that one contemplates Leto as the Joker. On one hand, it could be genius. On the other, it could be like this:

Leto: By all means, play the Joker — but don’t give in to your worst self.

Justin Moyer is the deputy editor of the Morning Mix. Follow him on Twitter: @justinwmmoyer.
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