The Joker movie is now out, and the wave of controversy it surfed to release day shows little signs of rolling back anytime soon. There are still any DC fans who don’t even think that Joker is a movie that ever needed to be made, and at least one DC movie star seems to agree with them.
The previous Joker actor, Jared Leto, reportedly wasn’t pleased when he initially discovered that Warner Bros. had plans to replace the Suicide Squad actor with a Joaquin Phoenix-led solo film.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, upon discovering that the studio approved director Todd Phillips’ idea for a solo Joker film that wasn’t connected to the DC Extended Universe — and didn’t involve Leto playing the role — Leto felt “alienated and upset by the move.”
Leto has yet to officially comment, but back in 2017 the actor did hint at his feelings toward his non-involvement in the character’s future. “I’m a little confused too, but yeah, there are a couple of things happening in the DC world… I loved the Joker, he’s a great character, a really fun character to play,” he said. “It’s a big universe and when you play the Joker, there’s no ownership there. You have the honor of holding the baton for a little while and then passing it off. But there are other films in development and I’m excited to see what comes from them”.
The Joker is an iconic character whose popularity rivals that of Batman. Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger’s performances have gone down in movie history as some of the best depictions of a comic book character ever put to screen, with the latter taking home a posthumous Oscar for the role.
Meanwhile, Leto’s tattooed take on the villain as seen in Suicide Squad received harsh criticism. Leto was reportedly upset with how numerous additional scenes featuring his Joker were shot but didn’t wind up in the final movie. There were rumors that WB was working on followup movies where Leto could take another shot at the role, including a Mad Love-inspired Joker/Harley Quinn movie and a Joker solo movie, but those fell to the wayside. Leto will not be reprising the role for James Gunn’s soft reboot The Suicide Squad or Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.
So with Phoenix’s standalone Joker movie getting made relatively soon after Leto’s debut as the Clown Prince of Crime, and Leto not getting to do another Joker movie himself as of yet, it’s understandable why he’d feel the way he does.