Jared Leto’s Joker Originally Played a Way Bigger Role in ‘Suicide Squad,’ the Director Confirms

Not every supervillain can headline a billion-dollar movie. But in his many forms, the Joker never fails to draw attention. Whether it’s Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, or Joaquin Phoenix, the character is rich enough to warrant a variety of equally valid interpretations. And fans seem to love every single one. Well, except for Jared Leto’s, that is.

The Oscar-winning actor played the Joker for the first and only time in 2016’s Suicide Squad. Covered with tattoos and bearing a mouthful of metal caps, Leto’s Joker was starkly different from any other on-screen Joker. Suicide Squad received mixed reactions, but Leto’s performance is its most criticized element. But Joker was supposed to be way more prominent.

Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne, Jared Leto, and Jai Courtney at the European premiere of 'Suicide Squad'
Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne, Jared Leto, and Jai Courtney at the European premiere of ‘Suicide Squad’ | Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Audiences never saw the original vision of ‘Suicide Squad’

In some respects, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Suicide Squad is perhaps second only to Justice League as the DC Extended Universe movie with the most behind-the-scenes drama. The production compromised director David Ayer’s creative vision throughout, as extensive reshoots and edits fundamentally changed his story.

Following the warm response to early footage, Warner Bros. commissioned the company that cut the trailer to create its own edit of the movie. And ultimately, this version — which hews more closely to Marvel’s flashy, pop-heavy Guardians of the Galaxy — is what audiences saw in theaters. Stripped too was the deep connective tissue between Suicide Squad and the DCEU.

Director David Ayer confirmed Joker was supposed to be pivotal

In the years since its release, tidbits about Ayer’s version of Suicide Squad have trickled out every once in a while. And the director himself isn’t shy to share his disappointment in the theatrical version. Even the “Extended Cut” Blu-ray doesn’t feature much of the rumored material.

Now, in a recent interaction with a fan on Twitter, Ayer has confirmed a major development missing from the third act. And it all hinged on Leto’s Joker.

Joker seemingly crashes to his death midway through the film. And after this point, he only reappears in the final moments to break Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) out of prison.

But in the film’s climax, Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) tries to tempt the team by making their dreams come true. Yet, as the fan mentions — and Ayer confirms — Joker originally appeared, striking a deal with Enchantress.

If Joker had reappeared, Enchantress would have promised him the opportunity to become the king of Gotham. Such a turn would have also validated Leto’s role in Suicide Squad. As is, his story is completely disconnected from the primary mission.

Will fans petition for the Ayer’s original cut to be released?

Interestingly, this Joker-Enchantress connection wasn’t just an early concept during the script phase. Rather, Ayer confirms he actually filmed all this material. Leto previously said his favorite Joker moments didn’t make the final cut. And fans have noted moments and images from the marketing that don’t appear in Suicide Squad.

With as much as fans continue to learn about Ayer’s version, perhaps it’s just a matter of time before demand increases for a director’s cut. After all, DCEU fans are still campaigning for Warner Bros. to release director Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League.

Sure, fans knew the theatrical version of Suicide Squad severely cut down Leto’s Joker screentime. But now they have so much more detail about where his story was headed. That could be enough to stoke fans’ excitement about what Ayer had in mind when he signed on for Suicide Squad.