It’s been an eventful few years for the Joker, appearing in two major blockbusters played by two different method actors — and now even his ex-girlfriend is starring in her own girl gang movie, Birds of Prey (Or the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). But is Jared Leto’s Joker, who first appeared alongside Harley in 2016’s Suicide Squad, himself in Birds of Prey?
And if he isn’t, well, why not?
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Birds of Prey.]
If you’ve seen Birds of Prey, then you already know. The Joker barely appears in it, and even when he does, it doesn’t seem like Leto is playing him.
Birds of Prey briefly uses some clips of Harley Quinn’s origin story from Suicide Squad, scenes in which Leto’s Joker was present, but the movie never actually shows him. In another flashback, we see Harley and the Joker forcibly tattooing a guy for the lulz, but we only see the Joker from behind, and it’s not Leto playing him, just a Letoalike.
Polygon got a chance to chat with Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan, and when we asked her if there was ever a point in production where Leto’s Joker was in the movie, she had a simple answer. “No.”
“This movie is really just about Harley,” Yan continued. “It’s about Harley becoming the woman she is without being the girlfriend.”
Jared Leto’s Joker seems gone for good
In the wake of Suicide Squad, there seemed to be a lot of promise for Leto’s tattooed and be-grilled take on Batman’s nemesis. News broke that Warner Bros. was mulling several films that might easily involve his character: A second Suicide Squad; the Harley/Poison Ivy/Catwoman teamup of Gotham City Sirens; even a Joker/Harley romcom! At one point Leto was “set to star and exec produce an untitled standalone film,” presumably centered on the Joker.
But after a few years of development time, only James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad has moved ahead in a significant way, and Leto doesn’t seem to be in it. In the meantime, Joaquin Phoenix’s starring turn in Joker — a Joker solo film — has been nominated for 11 Academy Awards.
But Leto himself seems to have moved on anyway — to Spider-Man’s vampire-but-not-a-vampire villain, Morbius. Can vampires wear grills?