– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Earlier today, I wrote about the continuing situation I affectionately refer to as LETO V WB: DAWN OF TERMINATION. In that piece, I rounded up the latest bit of animosity being flung WB/DC’s way courtesy of Jared Leto, due to what happened to his work as The Joker in SUICIDE SQUAD.

In that piece, it’s very apparent that Leto has no desire to make his bosses at Warner Bros happy. He’s trash-talking the decisions made for their movie’s theatrical cut, he’s telling fans that he feels tricked by the people involved with making SUICIDE SQUAD, and thereal kicker was when he said his answer to Warner Bros, if they have any problems with him breaking his contract stipulations by rock climbing, is “F__k’em.”

The actor has gone on his Instagram account and posted two pictures that depict him doing something he’s contractually forbidden from doing in the last seven days.

It’s almost like he’s daring the studio to fire him.

Which begs the question: What if they do?

At the end of SUICIDE SQUAD, we see Leto’s Joker break Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn out of prison. It’s clear that the intention is for the Clown Prince of Crime and his femme fatale to return to Gotham at some point, perhaps in time to tussle with Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight in THE BATMAN. But what happens if Leto keeps this up and gets himself canned?

Well, one possibility I think should be considered is the long-held fan theory that Leto’s Joker…isn’t THE Joker.

Stay with me here.

One of the twists many expected was that the reason Leto’s take on the character looks so different than the way he’s traditionally been depicted is that he isn’t The Joker at all. The theory posits the idea that he’s actually Jason Todd, the thought-to-be-dead Robin that was eluded to in BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

Now, that didn’t end up being the case, but what’s to stop it from becoming the case in the unlikely event that Warner Bros decides they’re tired of Leto adding fuel to the fire? 

What would stop the writers of THE BATMAN, namely Geoff Johns and Ben Affleck, from revealing that the version of the Joker we saw in SUICIDE SQUAD was actually a deranged, abused, and tormented version of Todd, who ended up in Arkham after being released from captivity by the actual Joker? Perhaps the real Joker- an older, wiser, puppet master- hasn’t been seen in many years? He allowed Todd to assume the mantle so that he could quietly pull strings from afar.

Something like this would accomplish a few things: 

  1. It would address the backlash from fans, many of whom have had very few nice things to say about Leto’s Joker
  2. It would give WB a way to get rid of the nuisance that Leto is becoming
  3. It would allow them to cast a new actor, in perhaps a better representation of the character

In certain ways, something like this would allow the DC Extended Universe to retcon in a way very similar to what the Marvel Cinematic Universe did with Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin in IRON MAN 3. If you’ll recall, the marketing campaign made a very big deal about one of Tony Stark’s most famous foes showing up in the third solo outing for the character. They had a fantastic actor in Kingsley, an iconic role like Mandarin, and it seemed like an epic encounter was on the way. Then the film came out and it was revealed that the Mandarin in the film was a hoax; a fake. Kingsley was playing an actor, who was pretending to be a big bad who went by the name Mandarin.

Many, many fans hated this decision by writer-director Shane Black.

In the years to follow, though, Marvel found a way to backpedal. In a Marvel one-shot, where Kingsley reprises his IRON MAN 3 role, we seem to find out that there actually is a real Mandarin, and he’s pissed. Whether or not that ever goes anywhere is anyone’s guess, but regardless, it looks like Marvel figured out a way to fix their Mandarin Mess.

Can Warner Bros find a way to deal with this Joker/Leto situation? I bet they can.

In a way, this also calls to mind the recent situation where Shailene Woodley shot scenes as Mary Jane Watson for THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, only to have them cut from the film. They were meant to set up an appearance by Mary Jane in the third film in the series. The fact that a third film was scrapped altogether was a blessing in disguise for Woodley because now she doesn’t have to be handcuffed to another franchise with so-so reviews (with the other one being DIVERGENT), and no one even really knows that she was supposed to be in TASM 2. So it’s a clean break. No harm, no foul.

The fact that so much of Leto’s work was cut from SUICIDE SQUAD could mean that Leto could also create a fairly clean break from the DCEU. His appearances in the film amounted to an extended, glorified cameo anyway, so maybe he’d just like to see himself out. 

And maybe that would be a win-win-win for the actor, the studio, and the fans.

What do you think?

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.