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The Weird Jared Leto Joker Situation Just Keeps Getting Stranger

David Ayer would like to be left out of this whole Joker mess, thank you very much.

The Suicide Squad director was recently forced to take to Twitter to defend himself in the wake of a report that Jared Leto's role as the Clown Prince of Crime was severely reduced in his movie in part because Ayer was unhappy with his performance. It's just the latest development in a strange drama that has played out in the wake of the success of Joker, the Todd Phillips-directed film starring Joaquin Phoenix.

According to multiple reports by The Hollywood Reporter, Leto was none too thrilled when — after Suicide Squad made nearly $750 million dollars at the global box office — studio Warner Bros. put a solo Joker film into production that did not star him. Leto famously committed wholeheartedly to the role; some might say a little too wholeheartedly, like the co-stars to whom he gifted rats, bullets, and dead pigs as part of his "method" approach. 

But although Leto is generally a fine actor, his depiction of the Joker left a great many DC fans cold... and it left still others hot, as in outraged. The slicked-back hair and Joker-themed tattoos were bad enough, but Leto's over-the-top, borderline-cartoonish rendition didn't sit well with moviegoers who had only eight years prior witnessed the late Heath Ledger's towering, inspired performance as the Joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight.

That Leto's screen time was limited to only about ten minutes in Suicide Squad's final cut probably ended up benefiting the film — but if, as THR implied, it was Ayer's decision to give the flick a good de-Letoing, the director isn't coming clean about it. In response to a fan who (somewhat profanely) asked him on Twitter if the implication were true, Ayer simply responded, "This is inaccurate information. Not my words or actions."

Now, it should be noted that Mr. Ayer may have chosen his phrasing here very sneakily, because the THR piece didn't actually cite any of his words or actions. It simply opines that "apparently," Ayer wasn't pleased with Leto's work, since so much of his performance was left on the cutting room floor. 

But we must admit that if we were Ayer, we'd be remiss to waltz into this mess no matter our opinion of Leto's Joker. THR's reporting has detailed how Leto, upset over the greenlighting of Phillips' film before either of his Joker-centric projects (a solo project and a team-up with Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn) got the official go-ahead, "fumed" to his agents over the development, which made him feel "alienated and upset." He then allegedly went so far as to ask one of his well-connected buddies (Irving Azoff, his music manager) to put in a call to Warner Bros. brass in an attempt to get Phillips' film killed.

Joker, of course, has gone on to make roughly all of the money while becoming the most talked-about film of the fall and an odds-on Oscar favorite, all of which probably has Leto even more pumped about how the whole thing played out. Meanwhile, both films set to feature his Joker which were in development are now apparently dead in the water, and the latest trailer for next year's Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) opens with Robbie's character stating flatly that she dumped her tattoo-headed beau just as unceremoniously as Warner Bros. appears to have done.

Is Jared Leto's Joker out of the Worlds of DC?

So, what are the chances that Leto will eventually return to the role? Well, dear reader, we think that question is best answered with another question: what are the chances that all the world's pigs will sprout wings and fly tomorrow?

Look, it's worth noting that nothing has been officially reported regarding the future of Jared Leto's Joker in the "Worlds of DC," and also that — as even THR noted while gleefully stirring the pot — the actor still maintains a professional relationship with Warner Bros. Heck, he's shooting the crime thriller Little Things, co-starring Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Natalie Morales (Santa Clarita Diet), and Denzel Washington (you know... Denzel Washington) for the studio right this minute.

But we're definitely thinking that Leto's turn as the Joker will prove to be a one-and-done, and that the next onscreen iteration of the character that we'll see is likely to appear in a sequel to Matt Reeves' The Batman, which we have noted appears to be playing the long game in respect to setting up the Dark Knight's rogues' gallery. 

We're hopeful it'll be another unique and awesome spin if and when (but mostly when) that happens, because obviously, the Joker is the kind of role that is well-served by periodic reinventions from gifted thespians. Heck, you might even be a fan of Leto's version, and that's just fine. After all, the guy is a very good actor, and if he is indeed finished in the "Worlds of DC," he at least has his upcoming gig as Marvel and Sony's "Living Vampire" Morbius to console him.

So long as he can keep from mailing dead bats to his co-stars, he should be fine.