For some time now Warner Bros. has been looking at cinematic narratives outside of the DC Extended Universe, similar to how DC Comics has its Elseworlds line which exist as standalone stories. These movies would act similarly, as self-contained features away from the film continuity established through the likes of Man of Steel, Wonder Woman and Justice League.
One property the studio is developing revolves around the Joker and how the Clown Prince of Crime came to be. Todd Phillips is lined up to direct, with Martin Scorsese as producer and Joaquin Phoenix rumored for the title role (although the actor himself recently played down any link). Plot rumors have also emerged suggesting that the villain’s origin story would be drastically altered to that of a failed '80s comedian, indicating that the movie is indeed gaining momentum.
While we can all agree that Joker's past is a bold and intriguing angle to tackle, rather than diving into the past of an Elseworlds Joker, Warner Bros. should actually be building the backstory of the Joker that already exists: Jared Leto's version. Now, the chances of the studio exploring this DCEU criminal may be slim, but upon closer inspection there are a few reasons why it would be a sensible move.
It Helps To Rehabilitate His Divisive Image
Many fans voiced concerns over Leto's portrayal in David Ayer's Suicide Squad. They felt that his disposition was inconsistent and that he didn't know what kind of Joker he wanted to be: eccentric and whimsical like Jack Nicholson's Joker, or cerebral and haunting like Heath Ledger's. But it wasn't just his feel that missed the mark. Leto's look also threw people off, with his tattoos and mouth grill even causing some to a label him the "Hot Topic" Joker.
However, an origin story offers a chance to course-correct and add depth. Via his descent into chaos, fans would have a chance to see Leto's Joker as one based on substance and not style (with the Joker depicted in the Arkham video games also being a solid reference point). It's a win-win for the studio because not only would it be able to achieve the sinister balance previously lacking in the character, it would also get fans to establish an emotional connection, thus appreciating the villain more and allowing them to forgive the sins of Ayer's movie.
It Can Gives Us A True Character Study
Truth be told, Leto's Joker in Suicide Squad felt superficially shunted in. Given that the movie already had a packed cast, it came as no surprise that he ended up struggling for screen-time, basically coming off as an over-extended cameo that didn't serve any real purpose other than to force tension with Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn.
This dedicated piece though wouldn't just offer more time in the spotlight, it'd help us understand why he is the way he is, providing a deeper focus into the dark recesses of the Joker's mind. We'd have a better understanding of him as someone more than a wannabe gangster, maybe even offering room to go R-rated. This character study would be difficult to pull off later down the line because whether Leto's Joker appears in a rumored Legion of Doom film, a Batman movie or a film with Harley Quinn, he'd be limited in terms of screen-time.
It Fills In A Lot Of Missing DCEU Backstory
Even before Leto's Joker appeared on-screen, he was influencing the DCEU. We first saw this in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice where a bitter and vengeful Bruce Wayne was seen painstakingly looking up at a defaced Robin suit. Director Zack Snyder would go onto confirm that he was indeed following the comics where Joker killed Jason Todd, and that this particular death was one of the reasons Ben Affleck's Batman became so violent and dark. An origin story here can now explore this tragedy, and more so, the start of the infamous feud between the duo.
Suicide Squad then showed an incarcerated Joker being treated by Robbie's Harleen Quinzel, just before he managed to corrupt her. However, some prologue from his past definitely felt missing because we didn't get a thoroughly fleshed out story of what landed him in Belle Reeve, and why he developed this infatuation for his psychiatrist. Going back and exploring Joker's life before he became demented would fill in these gaps and truly explain why he had this hole in his life that could only be filled, not by the kind Quinzel, but by the maniacal Harley Quinn.