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Leto Was Apparently Not Happy About Joaquin's Joker Movie

Jared Leto reportedly had trouble putting on a happy face when hearing about the new Joker movie. 

In a story published by The Hollywood Reporter detailing how former Joker producer Martin Scorsese may have contributed to the film after dropping his producing credit, a juicy piece of information has come into view. According to the outlet, Jared Leto, who played the Joker in David Ayer's 2016 comic book movie Suicide Squad, was none too pleased about studio Warner Bros. moving forward with the Joker origin story film starring Joaquin Phoenix as a man who transforms into the Clown Prince of Crime. 

Reportedly, Leto was left feeling "alienated and upset" when former Warner Bros. president Kevin Tsujihara and current studio chief Toby Emmerich decided to give the project the greenlight. Emmerich is said to have "loved the script" that Phillips co-wrote with Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Scott Silver, though he did reportedly feel that the gritty nature of the story might fit better outside of the standard DC Extended Universe, of which Suicide Squad is a part. Nonetheless, Emmerich was taken with Joker, as was Tsujihara, and the rest is history.

Why Leto may have been jealous of the new Joker

Neither Leto nor any representatives of his have come forward to confirm or deny the claim that he was hurt over the Phoenix-led Joker, but the actor's purported reaction to hearing the news of the project getting the greenlight may be accurate given past Joker-related events.

As fans know, Leto's Joker didn't have nearly as prominent a role in Suicide Squad as expected. His involvement essentially amounted to an extended cameo rather than a starring part, which left audiences disappointed and confused. Director Ayer even admitted that he should have included more of Leto's Joker in the film. He wrote in an open letter published in January 2017, "Wish I had a time machine. I'd make Joker the main villain and engineer a more grounded story. I have to take the good and bad and learn from it." Ayer has also said that he agonizes over not making Joker the central baddie in Suicide Squad

That considered, one can easily see how Leto may have felt "alienated and upset" when Warner Bros. chose to go ahead with Phillips and Phoenix's Joker movie, the idea for which Phillips pitched to Warner Bros. in August 2016, the same month that Suicide Squad opened in theaters. The fact that he didn't get much screen time in the film and that critics roasted it to a crisp could have already put a damper on Leto's mood regarding Suicide Squad. Learning in August 2017 that a different actor would get the chance to play the Joker in his very own solo movie very well might have crushed Leto's spirits — even if Warner Bros. executives emphasized that the project wouldn't be the end of Leto's Joker.

Shortly after Warner Bros. and DC Films made the announcement about the Joker standalone film, The Hollywood Reporter ran a piece noting that Leto "made his displeasure with the notion of multiple Jokers known to his CAA agents." Leto later told On Demand Entertainment (via ComingSoon.net) that he was "a little confused" about the future plans for the Joker — which, at the time, included a spin-off movie featuring his Joker and Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn. However, he maintained a level head in saying, "I love the Joker. He's a great character and really fun character to play. But it's a big universe and when you play the Joker, there's no ownership there. You have the honor of holding the baton for a little while and then passing it off. There are other films that are in development and I'm excited to see what comes from them."

Leto's disposition likely turned sunny in June 2018, when was reported that Warner Bros. was developing a standalone Joker movie featuring Leto's iteration of the infamous DC Comics villain. The project, which Leto was also set to executive produce, was apparently intended to be the first of several Suicide Squad off-shoots, and would exist in a different arm of the DC movie world to allow different actors to play the same character. 

Unfortunately, it appears that both the Joker-Harley Quinn spin-off film and the Joker solo flick starring Leto have since been scrapped. In February 2019, Forbes ran a piece noting that both projects had "fallen by the wayside" at Warner Bros. 

As of October 2019, we don't know for certain what the future holds for Leto's Joker. The easiest bet is that he could appear in James Gunn's upcoming sequel-slash-reboot The Suicide Squad, which features a mix of returning characters (like Robbie's Harley Quinn) and fresh faces. There's been no formal announcement about his possible involvement, though, so it's a toss-up whether or not Leto will grace the silver screen and flash Joker's silver teeth in 2021's The Suicide Squad

For his sake, we hope that Leto can find some way to reprise his role as the Joker — though it's looking more and more like it may be impossible for him to deliver a better performance as the Clown Prince of Crime than the one Phoenix gave in Joker.