Reviving The Joker after Jack Nicholson's smarmy turn in the original 1989 Batman movie looked like an insurmountable task. When Christopher Nolan cast Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, fans went nuts -- no way could the pretty boy from 10 Things I Hate About You upstage the sinister, smirking Nicholson.
Good call, guys.
Today, Ledger's chaotic, Academy Award-winning performance is the gold standard of on-screen villainy, and for a second time this millennium, reviving the Joker sounds like an insurmountable task. That doesn't seem to faze Jared Leto, who brought the weight of Oscar gold to the set of Suicide Squad, and his method acting hijinks to a maniacal interpretation of the Batman bad guy. The suits behind the August blockbuster seem so confident in Leto matching Ledger, or at least him slicing out his own place in comic book movie history, that they've thrust Joker into the spotlight just days before San Diego Comic-Con, the geek culture mecca. The above trailer is Joker in-your-face, in-your-business, in-your-summer-movie-schedule.
Leto looks downright sadistic in the role. Whereas Ledger played things unhinged and mumbly, a kind of bazooka-toting Travis Bickle, Leto treats him as a true clown prince -- terrifyingly gleeful. If you only saw his tattoos and green hair, he could be the mixologist at the nearest posh cocktail bar. It only takes a few knives, machien guns, and the lure of Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn to wind him into a psychopath.
Suicide Squad arrives August 5. And if Leto has his way, it'll be the beginning of a long and frightening run as The Joker.