It has been almost a month since Suicide Squad was released in theaters. It has also been almost a month since my review on the film was written. Since then I have received quite a few questions about certain aspects of the film, most notably on the the Joker. For the sake of not having a ridiculously long article, I chose not go in to too much depth on the characters in the film. The Joker is a very popular character, probably the most popular comic book character to people who don't really read the comics but watch the films and cartoons. It is for that very reason that any appearance of the Joker will be heavily scrutinized by fans and non-fan alike. As for the Joker in Suicide Squad, fan reception seems to be split right down the middle. You either liked the Joker or you did not. After seeing the movie, I found it hard to really form a proper opinion on Jared Leto's performance. That said I liked what I saw and thought that he worked well in the film. For the first time in his big screen appearances, The Clown Prince of Crime is not the main antagonist of the film and therefore does not spend much time on screen. Unfortunately that doesn't stop people from being quick to write this Joker off and comparing him with his previous on-screen counterparts.
So far that has been my biggest problem, the fan reaction to this Joker. I like to make comparisons as much as the next person but in this situation, I don't think it's exactly fair. In the 1989 Batman film, Jack Nicholson had the whole film to showcase his Joker. Heath Ledger also had the same opportunity in The Dark Knight. Jared Leto on the other hand only had a few scenes to show us what his Joker was all about. Only time will tell if this version of the Joker can hold is own opposite Ben Affleck's Batman. It is important to note that each incarnation of the Joker is crafted specifically for the film he is in. That is also why it does not matter if a Joker is "better" than the other. They are unique to each film, you could not just swap the character around and still have it work. So what makes Leto's Joker work in Suicide Squad? The answer lies within another character in the film. The Joker's equally/if not more crazy other half: Harley Quinn.
Harley Quinn is a character that exists to serve the Joker and therefore can not really exist with out him. It is only in recent years that Harley has been able to stand on her own in the comics but with the Joker still very much a part of her character. The film also changes the dynamic between the two characters. In the past, the relationship between the Joker and Harley was an abusive one. He would often mistreat, neglect and physically hurt Harley. She acted more as an accessory to the Joker, who did not mind tossing her aside if she ever got in the middle of his eternal struggle with the Batman. In Suicide Squad, the Joker is the support character. He is actually in love with Harley, going as far as to save her life and do anything possible get her back whenever she is taken away from him. I really enjoyed this change as it makes Harley's character stronger. Her relationship with the Joker is no longer a detriment to her character. This in turn gives the viewer a reason to "root" for the two villains. Which is what Suicide Squad is about, and why Jared Leto's Joker works.