Director Zack Snyder is currently overseeing reshoots for his version of Justice League, transforming his original vision for the superhero crossover into a four-episode limited series on HBO Max. And based on everything we know about what was cut from the theatrical version, the Snyder Cut promises to be a very different film. Case in point – we’ve now learned Jared Leto will reprise the role of Joker, as Leto is one of several DC veterans taking part in the reshoots.
That’s certainly unexpected news, both in light of previous reports Leto was done with the Joker part and the fact that there was never any hint of Joker playing a role in the theatrical cut. How exactly is Joker supposed to fit into the Justice League picture? Is this a glorified cameo role, or does Batman’s worst enemy have a real part to play in the war against Darkseid and Steppenwolf? Here are a few options for how Leto’s Justice League appearance could play out.
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Batman vs. Joker in Gotham City
You might remember that one of the very first scenes in Justice League features Batman stalking a Gotham City hoodlum, using his prey’s growing fear to lure a Parademon out of hiding. That early scene, along with a handful of moments featuring Batman and Commissioner Gordon, are all we really see of Gotham City in the movie. It’s possible the Snyder Cut could expand on one of these scenes and showcase more of Batman defending his city while the threat of Darkseid looms.
One option here is to rejigger that first Gotham scene so that Batman is stalking Joker rather than a nameless criminal. That scene probably wouldn’t play out in the same way, given that Joker is the one person utterly incapable of being terrorized by Batman, but there are other ways Batman’s hunt for Joker could form a segue into the Parademon subplot. Perhaps Joker himself is fascinated by these alien invaders and what they mean for Earth’s future. Maybe Joker will even feel the call of the Mother Box and the allure of Anti-Life.
A Robin Flashback
Batman v Superman hints at an earlier battle between Batman and Joker, one that seemingly resulted in Robin’s death and Wayne Manor being set ablaze. However, the movie never dwells on that untold story, nor does it reveal which character was wearing that defaced Robin suit (Snyder has suggested it might have been Dick Grayson rather than the more predictable Jason Todd).
Snyder may be taking the opportunity to shed more light on that tragic incident in Justice League. It’s entirely possible Leto’s scenes are part of a new flashback sequence. We could picture Ben Affleck’s Bruce recounting the story of the day Robin was killed as a sort of cautionary tale – a warning about how much the superhero life can take from a man.
Even if that story is only referenced obliquely rather than directly shown, Snyder may be adding in a scene where Joker reminds Batman about the death of Robin. Joker may be trying to prove to Batman that having allies makes him weaker, even as the Dark Knight begins assembling a new team.
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Joker Joins the Injustice League
The theatrical cut of Justice League ends with a post-credits scene teasing a future Justice League movie that may or may not ever come to pass. There, we see Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor recruiting Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke to form “a League of our own,” hinting at the debut of the Injustice League/Injustice Gang/Legion of Doom in a future sequel.
Given that Snyder’s plan was to have Justice League lead directly into a Darkseid-heavy sequel, it’s likely that stinger scene was never part of his Justice League cut. Eisenberg previously confirmed he had no additional scenes in Justice League beyond that stinger (and seems to imply even that scene was specifically added after Snyder’s departure.)
Even so, we could easily see Snyder shooting a new version of that scene to add Leto’s Joker alongside his fellow villains. There’s even the possibility of adding other DCEU villains who have debuted post-Justice League, such as Mark Strong’s Dr. Sivana or Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah. Even though Warner Bros. has clarified that Snyder’s Justice League cut is now set in its own continuity, separate from the current DCEU, the studio may see value in building more excitement for a future supervillain team-up.
Release the Ayer Cut?
What we know about the scope of Snyder’s Justice League reshoots suggests Leto’s Joker probably won’t suddenly become a crucial character. Any of the previous three theories seem likely (possibly even more than one), but we definitely shouldn’t expect a Mother Box-wielding Joker to pop up in the climax of the film. If anything, Leto’s role in the reshoots may be less about expanding the plot of Justice League than forging a stronger link to an earlier DCEU film.
With the Snyder Cut finally being confirmed after years of rumors and fan campaigning, many DC fans are wondering if this is the start of a trend. Suicide Squad director David Ayer certainly seems enthusiastic about the prospect of an “Ayer Cut” of his film, tweeting, “My cut would be easy to complete. It would be incredibly cathartic for me. It’s exhausting getting your ass kicked for a film that got the Edward Scissorhands treatment. The film I made has never been seen.”
We imagine Snyder is sympathetic to Ayer’s plight, given the similarly troubled making of Justice League. Adding in Leto’s Joker could be Snyder’s way of paying tribute to a fellow DC director and possibly even stoking the fires of the #ReleaseTheAyerCut movement. If there’s one thing we know about Ayer’s version of the movie, it’s that it would have featured more Joker.
There’s certainly a hole in the Joker/Harley Quinn saga Snyder’s Justice League could work to fill. When last we saw Leto’s character at the end of Suicide Squad, he was in the process of breaking Harley out of prison and resuming their roller-coaster romance. But when Harley returns in Birds of Prey, she’s already broken up with Mister J (a character who never actually appears in the movie). Leto’s Justice League scenes may be intended to fill in the blanks, showing us what happened to the Clown Prince of Crime in between Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey. There’s no indication Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is appearing in the Snyder Cut, but maybe the film will show Joker’s side of the story, just as Birds of Prey focused on Harley’s side.
How do you think Leto’s Joker will fit into Zack Snyder’s Justice League? Let us know your theories in the comments below.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.
Source: IGN.com How Will Jared Leto's Joker Fit Into Zack Snyder's Justice League?