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On paper, Suicide Squad was hands down one of the most promising films ever.
The film had big names like Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, and Jared Leto (more about him in a moment). Suicide Squad also had tons of money with a skyrocketing $175 million budget going into the production. Then, it didn’t work much.
The ultimate million dollar question was… what happened?
There’s no question that Jared Leto’s ‘Joker’ was a huge disappointment to many. With Warner Bros. cutting most of Leto’s scenes out of the movie, it stirred up many things, most of which, controversy.
Jared Leto was mad. Fans were mad. And critics were not impressed. To many, Leto’s ‘Joker’ was a joke itself and came off like a circus act. There are also many people who believe that Leto captured everything that makes The Joker menacing.
But to me, I see Leto’s ‘Joker’ as one of the biggest missed opportunities in cinema history.
Like it or not, Suicide Squad is a divisive and excruciatingly controversial film.
Critics bashed it and so did moviegoers, yet it earned nearly $800 million at the box office in its worldwide theatrical run. It also had a number of awards and nominations. Hardcore DC fans still stand behind this film to this day, even though they are still wondering what director David Ayer did with all of the missing Joker scenes.
Before getting into this column. I don’t think Jarred Leto did a good job playing the Joker. To me it just wasn’t a good adaption of the character. But I can’t say it was Leto’s fault because I think the whole disaster of his offering had to do with the incompetence and bad decisions by Warner Bros.
You can tell that Jared Leto seemed to put in a lot of effort into crafting the persona and look of ‘Joker.’ That being said, there are ways to fix Jared Leto’s Joker and Suicide Squad as a whole.
Here are only a couple of methods Warner Bros. should heed:
Make Joker the Main Villain
Making Joker the main villain would benefit the film so much. Whether you are a die-hard comic book fan or just a random guy on the street who knows nothing about comics, you know who The Joker is.
Talk about any top-tier list of greatest villain of all time (DC or Marvel), ‘Joker’ has rarely missed the top spot. Imagine being the head of Warner Bros. and not making ‘Joker’ the main villain?
It boggles my mind the studio didn’t just make ‘Joker’ the main villain. After tons of hype and fantastic marketing, fans were eager to see Leto’s ‘Joker’ — only to be barely used in the film.
Suicide Squad clocked in at 2 hours and 17 minutes of runtime. After a good amount of research, and many times revisiting the film, I found his scenes where he is actually involved is a little over 7 minutes. That’s it.
- The “Therapy Session” was a total of 23 seconds
- After that, he appeared in the “Torture Scene” — plus little glimpses of other minor scenes — which is 35 seconds
- The “Club Scene” with Monster T was 1 minute and 56 seconds
- The “Car Chase Scene,” 40 seconds
- The “Knives Scene,” 51 seconds
- The “Interrogation Scene,” 43 seconds
- The “Nanotech Raid,” 32 seconds
- The long “Acid Bath Scene” was the longest for Leto, which clocked in at 2 minutes and 2 seconds
- The “Helicopter Scene” plus Harley and Joker’s interaction, 1 minute
- And, last but not least, the ending scene (again, with Harley and Joker), lasted 20 seconds
In totality, that is around 7 minutes and 20 seconds, not including the dream scene which was 25 seconds. And that’s of a movie, much anticipated, for 2 hours and 17 minutes!
This was a huge missed opportunity Warner Bros. missed on — why not give ‘Joker’ at least 30 minutes of screen time and strengthen the film considerably? That would have given the fans what they wanted! No one asked for an over-the-top, corky, weird seven-minute ‘Joker’ interpretation. We wanted something different, something that would have transcended the DCEU and its films.
At the time Suicide Squad came out, we hadn’t seen The Joker on the big screen in more than eight years (that was Ledger’s masterful ‘Joker’ in The Dark Knight). So, moviegoers and fans were tremendously eager to see the character on the big screen for a new take on ‘Joker’ we had never seen before.
Only to realize that it turned out to be the biggest missed opportunity in cinema history.
Scrap Enchantress and Everything About Her
When I say scrap everything out about her character, I mean everything. Every scene, every second, every confrontation … everything.
Suicide Squad’s Achilles heel is Enchantress.
It’s no shocker Enchantress didn’t resonate well with fans or critics. If you take everything out about her character, it changes everything about the movie. And for the better.
Enchantress didn’t bring anything to the table but sloppy CGI and terrible traits. She is one of the worst villains in comic book movie history. Joker as the main villain for the film would’ve benefited Suicide Squad in a better way.
When Enchantress showed up on the screen, there was already a level of disconnect for me. It felt so unrealistic seeing the Squad face off with Enchantress (who is practically a deity already). The villain should’ve been someone just like them and someone who has been in their shoes. Like the Joker, not a world-ending threat.
Jared Leto’s ‘Joker’ is one of the biggest wasted opportunities in film history.
The aftermath of Suicide Squad hurt many fans. It was bashed critically and domestically, by critics and fans. To this day fans still talk about what happened with Suicide Squad. But maybe it will be redeemed with the Joker movie coming this year with Joaquin Phoenix at the helm.