Jared Leto to Rival Joaquin Phoenix in a Standalone Joker Film?

With Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker soon to hit the silver screen — and already boasting widespread critical adulation, despite mixed feelings concerning the type of message propagated — many fans are wondering if Jared Leto will return to the character.

Jared Leto and Joaquin Phoenix Joker
Jared Leto by Tullio M. Puglia / Stringer and Joaquin Phoenix by TOBIAS SCHWARZ / Contributor via Getty

Will Warner Bros. put forth two variations of the same character — allow both to exist simultaneously, in different DC realms, and serve polar functions? Joaquin Phoenix’s run is likely over — a one-time dramatic origin tale designed to stir the pot and spike controversy. However, Jared Leto’s return to the DCEU would be marked by mash-up potential — likely returning for a solo installment and as part of the broader and ever-expanding DCEU landscape. 

Now that Joker has been created, many believe that Jared Leto’s days as the creepy clown have come to an end. Not to mention, his role in the first Suicide Squad was diminished in editing, and the noise of his possible return has failed to rise above a muffled murmur as of late. According to Distractify, signs say “It doesn’t look likely” that Jared Leto will play the killer clown moving forward. 

Jared Leto’s Joker will not appear in Birds of Prey, and little has been mentioned regarding the actor’s presence in Suicide Squad 2; however, earlier reports from Variety suggest that Leto’s Joker is still alive and well — fresh in the minds of those who want to sell more tickets on the back of Leto’s star-power and the Joker’s potential influence over future DC movies. 

Warner Bros. may still be looking to expand Jared Leto’s version of the Joker 

Variety reported that Jared Leto would be getting his own Joker movie a while back, even when those involved in the decision-making process knew that Joaquin Phoenix was slated to take on the character. 

According to Variety, the studio wants to expand upon the narrative forged in Suicide Squad, first with a Birds of Prey film (premiering in February 2020) and, eventually, with a solo Joker movie featuring Jared Leto. 

When Warner Bros. announced the Joker film featuring Joaquin Phoenix, the studio stressed that such a decision did not imply the end of Jared Leto’s run as the iconic villain, which Variety noted. 

If Jared Leto plays the Joker in another solo movie…

Given that Todd Phillips’ Joker exists in a world all his own — untethered to the typical DCEU Suicide Squad belongs two — the movies could exist without overlap. However, who could resist a comparison? If a Joker movie starring Jared Leto comes out soon after one starring Joaquin Phoenix, the world will turn this into an acting competition overnight. 

Everyone loves a little competition. The industry itself loves it too, as is evident when thinking about the Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys, Tony’s, and you get the picture. If such a movie comes to be, every digital media outlet will be discussing who did it better. So, who would? 

Who has got what it takes to redefine the Joker, bringing something new and unpredictable to a standalone installment, while retaining the character’s unsettling nature? Audiences will find out what Phoenix is capable of soon. As for Leto, he deserves a chance to right the wrong that was Suicide Squad. He’s got the talent to compete, but he needs a stronger script and a more compelling arc.