The Joker in “Suicide Squad”- Explained

jared-leto-joker-suicide-squadImage via Warner Bros

Love him or hate him, Suicide Squad’s Joker, as played by Jared Leto, left his impression on all who saw the film.  However, this iteration of the Joker was harder to put a read on than Jokers of the past.  With studios looking to make these films more accessible to comic fans and non-comic fans alike, some of the aspects of this Joker may be lost on moviegoers.  What I will attempt to do is use the Joker’s long comic book history to shed some insight on this character.

The Joker’s Mental Condition

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If you asked most of the people who saw Suicide Squad, or any previous on screen adaption of the Joker, they’d probably tell you that he is insane.  However, in 1989’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, the Joker is said to suffer from a form of super-sanity.  He takes in his surroundings, and reinvents himself day after day to suit his current needs, which explains his changing personality.  This could explain his revamped look, including the  tattoos and fashion sense, as he adapts the aesthetic of modern day criminals in order to succeed. With Suicide Squad in part taking place in Arkham Asylum, I find it very likely that Warner Bros used the graphic novel as an inspiration for the character. While previous Jokers have had clear motives, usually involving the murder of many people and/or Batman, Leto’s motives are not as clear.  This may be partially due to the cutting of many of his scenes, but we many never know.  But what do I know, I just write about movies on the internet.

Maybe he has no motive

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Perhaps Alfred said it best in The Dark Knight– “some men just want to watch the world burn”.  While it is an accurate representation of that film’s take on the Clown Prince of Crime, it does not fully sum up what the character is capable of.  In a more recent story line, the Joker cut off his own face… well, because.  He is later seen sporting what he cut off as a mask, and even flips it upside down at one point, which is the stuff of nightmares.  This just goes to show that a lot of the actions the Joker takes have no reason, which could explain the character in Suicide Squad.  

He probably has no idea who he is

killing joke jared leto joker.jpgImage via DC Comics

This point is a bit speculative, but hear me out.  We see him drop Dr. Harleen Quinzel into a vat of acid at the Ace Chemical company, making her like him.  I am only to assume that he became the Joker through a similar process, as show in Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, where a fall into a vat at Ace Chemicals turned his hair green, his skin white, and his lips red.  It is after this he forgets his past.  While he does give the story that he was a failed stand-up comedian whose pregnant wife died in an accident, he claims that if he has a past, he “likes it to be multiple choice” giving us no definitive back story.  I doubt we will see one from this Joker in the DCEU, but I could be wrong.

He’s got a bad history with Batman

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Image via DC Comics

We know there is a dead Robin floating around somewhere in the DCEU thanks to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Inspired by A Death in the Family, where Joker kills Robin #2 Jason Todd, we know that it is one of Batman’s greatest failures, hanging the deceased Boy Wonder’s costume in the Batcave as a constant reminder.  Coupled with the fact that Bats himself said Gotham has “a bad history with freaks dressed like clowns”, it is safe to assume that Batman and the Joker have been doing their thing for a while (although it is made interesting by Harley Quinn’s bio in Suicide Squad, claiming her as an accomplice in his murder- the character hadn’t even been created yet).  What I believe is a more important takeaway from the comic books to the DCEU is the way A Death in the Family Ends, which is the way it always ends between Bats and the Joker- unresolved.

joker-001-187980Image via DC Comics

Personally, I really liked the direction Jared Leto took this character in Suicide Squad.  While I am disappointed at the amount of screen time he got, I’m positive this is not the last time we have seen him in the DCEU.  Whether it be an extended cut of Suicide Squad, a future film, or who knows, but the Joker is far too popular and more importantly far too important to the fabric of the DCEU to keep locked away. Who knows, they make take borrow a page from the recent DC Universe Rebirth and have there be three Jokers in the DCEU.  I think DC did the right move putting villains in an equal position as the heroes, for a couple of reasons.  The first being that DC’s villains are almost as strong characters as their heroic counterparts; just look at Harley Quinn.  Margot Robbie did a fantastic job of bringing the character to the big screen, we saw a lot of depth in her character. Second, they really have their villains to hold over the MCU.  Could you imagine a Suicide Squad made up of villains from Marvel Comics?  Sinister Six from Sony didn’t exactly work out, plus to have really great villains, Fox, Sony, and of course Marvel would have to share.  Anyways, I digress.

I hope if you were confused that this at least helped clear up some things about the Joker in Suicide Squad! I’d also love to know what you all thought of the film.

 

What are your thoughts on the Joker moving forward in the DCEU? Let me know in the comments!

What DC can learn from the masterpiece that is “Mask of the Phantasm”

batman phantasm dceu.jpgImage via Warner Bros

After finishing Stranger Things, I felt I was out of things to watch until television series start picking back up over the next couple of weeks.  So, I had the grand idea to re-watch Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the 1993 animated feature based off the animated series.  I hadn’t seen the film in its entirety since I was six or seven years old, picking up parts of it on television every now and then.  Having seen the film again, I concluded that not only it is a masterpiece, but that DC and Warner Bros can take some ideas and apply it to their upcoming films, especially those involving Batman.

***Spoilers for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm ahead.***

Handling Batman’s One Bad Day

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One of the most understood criticism’s of Batman’s first appearance in the DCEU is that it gives us a third retelling of the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne.  Granted, the death of Bruce’s parents are his single biggest motivator (a part of the character I felt was missing from The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises), but Mask of the Phantasm is able to show the emotional gravity Bruce still feels from their death in the perfect way.  He visits their grave, and often looks to their portrait for advice.  All of this, and we don’t see their murder in Crime Alley.  Mask of the Phantasm handles Bruce’s parent’s death in a way that DC should recreate.  No flashbacks, no back story, and no Martha from this point on, but we do know that it is still the driving force behind why Batman puts on the cowl (we might see another reason in the DCEU, which seems more likely to me honestly, which is the death of Robin, but I think they should still have references to the dead Waynes).

The Joker is pretty much perfect in this film

the joker phantasm dceuImage via Warner Bros

Mark Hamill’s iteration of the Joker always seems to be perfect, but his characterization in this film stands above most of the character’s other outings.  The reason is simple: Mask of the Phantasm boils down the Joker to his core concept, and that is mayhem.  Joker has no agenda in this film. His goal, as always, is to get Batman.  But everything he does is perfect, using the Future of the City as his base of operations is classic Joker vs. Batman.  Everyone likes to think that Batman is the only one equipped to deal with things when they do not go his way; Joker proves that to be wrong, especially in this film.  Of course, rigging the place to blow is classic Joker, but it goes to show that he isn’t some laughing crazy person; he is a laughing crazy person with a plan, which is how the Joker should be characterized.

It Sets the bar for original storytelling in comic book adaptations

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You’re probably right that I should consider this more of a spin-off of a television series than a comic book adaptation, but I’m not going to let that bother me.  Mask of the Phantasm is a completely original story written specifically for the screen.  Even the character of Andrea Beaumont/Phantasm was created for this movie.  DC has shown us that a story doesn’t need to adhere to the comics or even draw inspiration from the comics to create good stories (see: Harley Quinn).  With The Batman rumored to be an original story written by Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns, they could take some cues from the writers of this film.  While I do not think there will be any original characters in the DCEU anytime soon, this story shows that a successful comic book adaptation needs no basis in comic books.

It shows the struggle between Batman and Bruce Wayne

batman mask of the phantasm dceuImage via Warner Bros

I already touched on this a little bit, but I will expand here.  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t do it, most likely because the film was already overstuffed and Bruce Wayne’s life isn’t important to the plot of that movie.  Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy attempted to do it, but either there was not enough of it in The Dark Knight or too much moping in The Dark Knight Rises.  Mask of the Phantasm shows us a struggle that Batman has to go through- take up a normal life with Andrea, or keep the vow he made to his parents.  This helps to humanize Batman to audiences.  We kind of saw it with Superman already in the DCEU, so why not with Batman.  We do not need a lot of it, but enough for audiences to think that he isn’t just Batman, but also Bruce Wayne (which honestly I find unlikely, especially after the mid-credits scene in Suicide Squad).  

Well, those are my thoughts on Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.  It really sets the bar high for DC animated movies and superhero movies in general.

What are your thoughts on Mask of the Phantasm? Let me know in the comments!

Ok DC, it’s time for Nightwing

nightwing-buildingImage via DC Comics

With all of the buzz around Deathstroke in the past few days basically confirming his presence in the DCEU, fans around the world are overjoyed at the idea that the mercenary is finally coming to the big screen.  While I am as excited as anyone about the inclusion of Deathstroke in the DCEU, it is time for DC and Warner Bros. to include a character that has received no love in live action movies: Nightwing.

Yes Nightwing, and not Dick Grayson Robin.  There are reasons for this, which I will get into.  But seeing how DC has made no official plans regarding the character, it is time that we make them talk about it.

Dick Grayson is one of DC’s most iconic characters

robin dceu nightwing.jpgImage via DC Comics

Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern…Robin, am I right? When discussing the most important and iconic DC characters, Dick Grayson is top 10 if not top five, easily.  He was the first Robin, the Boy Wonder.  After he outgrew the Robin mantle, he took up the persona of Nightwing.  Heck, he has even taken up the mantle of Batman.  Dick Grayson deserves a spot in the DCEU.  Plus, he is a fan favorite, having been included in nearly all Batman properties- we see Dick as Robin in Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go, as Nightwing in Batman: Under the Red Hood, as well as his appearances in the Batman: Arkham video game series.  In all of those, he has gotten pretty decent treatment.  Speaking of which…

Dick’s last outing on the Silver Screen wasn’t too good

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Maybe “wasn’t too good” is mincing words.  Chris O’Donnell and Joel Schumacher brought the character to life in  Batman Forver  and Batman and Robin, which killed the franchise and almost comic book movies as we know them.  We know now that O’Donnell and the studio had plans for Nightwing, as shown by the costume change and a planned spin-off for the character.  But just as we got to see Deadpool have a shot at big-screen redemption, we need the same for Dick Grayson/ Nightwing.

Why not have Dick Grayson as Robin? Why Nightwing?   batman killing robin death

Image via Warner Bros

That is an excellent question.  As shown in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,we know there is a dead Robin somewhere in the DCEU, which was confirmed by Warner Bros to be Jason Todd.  Assuming the films are keeping somewhat the same timeline as the comic books, Jason Todd was the second Robin, and became the second Boy Wonder after Dick had grown too old to be Batman’s sidekick.  This point also leads to another plea to DC and Warner Bros: please include the Death in the Family and Under the Red Hood story lines in the DCEU somehow.  You’ve already teased us by showing us the dead Robin costume, as well as throwing the curveball of Harley being an accomplice in the murder.  David Ayer gave us part of this story, but to many fans, myself included, this doesn’t mean anything until we see it for real.

He’s got his own story lines, too

bludhaven nightwing DceuImage via Warner Bros

People tend to forget that after fighting side by side with the Dark Knight in Gotham, Dick took up his crime-fighting residency in Bludhaven, not that that is the only place where Nightwing has been in action.  But he isn’t just part of the Bat-family, and should be treated as such.  Plus, Bludhaven is another setting that would add to the DCEU.  With Gotham and Metropolis not going away anytime soon, a new city would be a welcome change of pace.  Introducing Nightwing in a more ensemble-focused DCEU film and then introducing Bludhaven after the introduction of Nightwing would be the way to go.

That pretty much wraps up the case that I have for Nightwing/Dick Grayson’s inclusion in the DCEU.  I hope you have found it compelling.

What do you think of Nightwing’s place in the DCEU?  Should there be other characters in the DCEU that haven’t been? Let me know in the comments!

Finally, we get Deathstroke

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For many of us, Ben Affleck’s latest Instagram video has people buzzing for all of the right reasons.  It is basically confirmation that Deathstroke, everyone’s favorite mercenary, will be coming to the DC Extended Universe.  Rumors are going around as to how he will be featured, with the most prominent guess being that he will be the main antagonist in 2019’s The Batman, directed by and starring Affleck.

Assuming that he will be the villain in The Batman, Deathstroke is a great choice.  If you are unfamiliar with the character, he first appeared as a Teen Titans villain in the 1980s.  He has appeared as a villain in many DC properties, most recently as a villain in Arrow and in the Batman: Arkham video games.  Deathstroke’s inclusion is important; it shows that the DCEU isn’t going to reuse old villains (for now, anyway), and Deathstroke is one of Batman’s more interesting nemeses.  It will be interesting to see how the Dark Knight faces off against this mercenary.  Expect Justice League to set that fight up.

Casting the mercenary is a challenge.  You need someone quite stoic, but driven and able to convey those emotions from behind a mask.  Tom Hardy in my opinion is a shoe-in for the role, but I’ll challenge myself more than that.  If I were in charge of casting Deathstroke, I would get Oscar Isaac on the phone immediately, but that is just my opinion.

What do you think of the recent news involving Deathstroke? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

No Rules: DC and Zack Snyder Refuse to be Beholden to the Comic Books

harley quinn dceu.jpgImage via Warner Bros

We are only two films into the DC Extended Universe, but one thing is clear already: DC and Zack Snyder will not play by the rules of the comics, or other superhero movies.  They are out to create their own unique world, and have already shown us that they aren’t messing around.  Spoilers for Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to follow.

Batman is a killer

ben affleck batman.jpegImage via Warner Bros

The DCEU version of Batman is a killer, which goes against pretty much everything comic book Batman stands for.  We still don’t know all that much about Batfleck, other than the fact that he’s been around the block a couple of times.  Zack Snyder isn’t preoccupied with playing by the rules of comic books, he’s trying to make is own universe, for better or worse.

Superman dies before Justice League

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OK, so Henry Cavill has already been confirmed to be playing Superman in Justice League, and let’s face it, nobody ever really dies in a superhero movie.  But Snyder making the decision to kill Superman before his resurrection tells us that nobody is safe in the DCEU, unless of course they’ve already been confirmed for more solo movies… But the DCEU has taken risks that the Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t.  Imagine if they killed off Iron Man before The Avengers?  That is what this is like.  I’m really disappointed that Marvel didn’t kill anyone in Captain America: Civil War, and it just goes to show that DC takes risks two films in whereas the MCU is still trying to play it safe (just forget about the fact that Civil War mopped the floor with Batman v Superman as a movie for a second).

Suicide Squad is all sorts of crazy

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And not just  because the Joker and Harley Quinn are the stars.  Suicide Squad is for many reasons one of the more interesting films to ever enter the superhero genre.  Between focusing on a group of villains and having the Joker in it, DC is signifying that the rules do not apply to them.  I hate the continued MCU comparisons, but just imagine if Marvel tried to make a movie centered around their villains.  It would not work, because their villains flat out suck compared to DC’s.  Part of it is lack of characterization for a lot of them.  One thing that DC has to be given credit for is that they have already characterized their two villains  (General Zod and Lex Luthor) pretty well, whereas Marvel has only done that with Loki.  Plus, Lex Luthor might be in Suicide Squad– my prediction is that the DCEU will feel like more of a cohesive universe than the MCU will, and you can thank Zack Snyder for that.

The DCEU isn’t preoccupied with origin stories

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Sure, we saw Superman’s origin in Man of Steel.  But almost no time was wasted on Batman’s, and we’ve already been introduced to most of the Justice League.  What is even more important, is that this is a universe that has already experienced a lot.  As I said before, Batman has been around the block a couple of times, and the best piece of evidence for this is the dead Robin’s costume.  Unlike Marvel, which created their universe from scratch, DC has already seen action in theirs.  What is more important for DC is what happens to these characters in the universe, rather than how they got there.

What do you think of these choices DC and Zack Snyder have made so far in the DCEU?  Tell me in the comments!