Let’s get this out of the way: This story is pure rumour and doesn’t seem to be based in any reliable or verifiable sources. What we are doing right now is pure speculation. Don’t take this as gospel or proof of anything. Having said that, given that the central subject is part of a franchise that has been a PR nightmare for several years and there is still much to take from this story and what it hints at for its future, we shall move forward.
A Harley Quinn fan site began claiming that the DCEU’s planned Joker and Harley movie, which would star Jared Leto and Margot Robbie, has been cancelled. You may remember this movie as the one that was described as ‘This Is Us meets Bad Santa meets Dr. Phil’, with the actual Dr. Phil starring as himself, offering therapy to the troubled couple. It sounded like a bad idea, and given that DC’s current plans seem to be focusing more on Harley as a solo entity, it felt wrongheaded for one of the franchise’s true stars. Plus Birds of Prey is already happening and people are way more excited for that film. The main news to take from this rumour - and once again, that’s all it is - is the possibility that Leto is done playing the Joker.
This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve heard that story. Indeed, we seem to hear more stories about Leto being finished with the role than him doing anything else with it. Given that the Birds of Prey subtitle is the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, it stands to reason that she’s ditched the juggalo. Bring on the Poison Ivy romance, I say. But what of Leto?
Leto was not a good Joker but he was also barely a Joker to begin with. He’s in the much-reviled Suicide Squad for about 12 minutes and he makes no impact on the plot. You could cut him out and nothing would change. It didn’t help that his performance was ahem, questionable? All those months of publicity and edgy promotion playing up how dark and method Leto got to play the role, right down to sending creepy ‘gifts’ to his cast members, and all we got from it was Old Gregg from The Mighty Boosh with more professional tattoos? Suffice to say, we were not impressed.
And Leto didn’t seem all that hyped either. Stories persisted that he wasn’t happy with how his role had been cut down and Warner Bros. didn’t seem especially excited to keep going with this version. Leto, who had just won an Oscar, was a major deal when he got that part. An award-winning actor with a history of commitment to his craft becoming the first person to take on the role since the late great Heath Ledger? It sounded like an easy sell. But Leto’s Joker has simply become another symptom of all that went wrong with the franchise. So, if he is indeed out of the DCEU, I wouldn’t be in the slightest bit surprised. He’s probably the biggest actor you could cut from the franchise with the least impact on the story itself. Just claim he was Jason Todd or something. The question that follows this rumour is how do Warner Bros. recast the part? Do they bring in a new talent to take on the role, or do they go risky with another big name, or do they wait to see if Joaquin Phoenix’s version goes down well with fans and start adding a lot of zeroes to the end of his cheques until he says yes?
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