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There is a lot of hate out there for Jared Leto's interpretation of the Joker. I know I'm late to this conversation, but I saw the movie like two years after it came out and when I did, I had a set of fresh eyes, uninfluenced by the opinion of others, and I loved Jared Leto as the Joker.
I get that Heath Ledger's death was a tragedy felt by the entire nation, if not the entire world. But just because the old has a lot of sentimental value strapped to it, doesn't mean that we have to dump all over the new. In fact, overdose or not, I prefer Jared Leto in the role of the Joker over Ledger.
With full understanding that my last sentence will redden a few cheeks, let me explain myself where Heath Ledger's Joker is concerned. Sure, there are rumors that he got like way into the role and stuff, and I won't deny that he was a talented actor. But his makeup really loses points with me. I get it. I get it. He's this guy who doesn't care about anything; Mr. Chaos Theory. But his makeup looks like some multi-colored feces (it comes in different colors) was blasted out of a potato gun, onto his face.
Heath Ledger almost created a whole new character with his portrayal of the Joker. I don't want to be one of those comic Nazis who cry that movies didn't accurately follow the comics, but Heath looked nothing like the role he was playing. I enjoyed the Batman film he was in, I appreciated his acting, I loved his character's cleverness, but I just very much prefer Jared Leto's version.
Jared's Joker looks nearly identical to the Joker of many a Batman comic book. This likeness feels very thoughtful and may be an act of fan service to please the comic crowd, which is notoriously a tough crowd to please.
Probably the experience of mine that influences this preference the most is that I grew up with Michael Keaton's Batman and Jack Nicholson's Joker. (The painted face, the colored hair? Ring any bells?) That was when Joker was a big mob boss, a genius of organized crime, not a loose cannon but calculated and intentional. Yes, Nicholson's Joker was still a madman, but there wasn't any philosophy of chaos and anarchy behind that madness. He was a supervillain, where Ledger's Joker was more of a super smart, rebellious bad guy.
Jared Leto's Joker makeup could have even been a quiet homage to Nicholson's iconic portrayal of the role, which I appreciate. The last thing we viewers needed was a carbon copy of Heath Ledger, with a superstar like Leto wasting his talent playing someone else's interpretation of The Joker.
It isn't lost on me that things like the grill, the makeup, the hair, may not have been decisions that Jared Leto himself made. But most of the complaints I have heard and read were about his characterization of the Joker, and here is where I must disagree the absolute most. Leto's Joker is intense. I mean, when he drops the smile for a moment to glare at his latest prey, it is absolutely chilling. He is the perfect mix of scary/serious and ridiculous/unpredictable.
I absolutely love Jared Leto in this role and I can't wait to see the second Suicide Squad film in 2019. I'm looking forward to the Joker having a bigger role this time around, and crossing my fingers for a Joker & Harley Quinn movie soon.
In closing, I'd like to add that when I hear or read people asking things like, "Who actually wants to see a Jared Leto Joker movie?" I raise my proverbial hand, because I do! I'm unapologetic for missing the train to the Heath Ledger Posthumous Joker Loyalty Club.