Jared Leto as The Joker: First Look

Credit: David Ayer’s Twitter Page

The first look at Oscar winning actor Jared Leto’s interpretation of The Joker has evoked mixed reactions from the passionate comic book fanbase. There are certainly aspects to like from the most recent incarnation of the character but at the same time, some things seem bizarre and even downright wrong. Let’s delve deeper.

There are numerous nods to the history of the Joker, from the famous pose taken straight from the pages of the Killing Joke to the bright green hair and purple glove. The hair is a huge move away from Heath Ledger’s Joker, and is refreshing in the movie universe. The glove, given the seriousness of the world DC and Warner Bros are creating, is perhaps too cheesy and not particularly realistic, but at least here it seems to work quite nicely. Perhaps it will not be a permanent feature of the character. Contrasting with the bright colours of the glove and hair is the seemingly bleached white skin of the Clown Prince. Again director David Ayer and the team are certainly crafting their own vision of the character, moving away from Ledger’s make-up approach. It is unclear what has made the Joker’s skin that colour at the moment though.

Certainly the most surprising aspect of this character reveal was the tattoos. The Joker is not known for body art, and the sort of ink on display has rubbed many fans the wrong way. There is no subtletly to the work, instead, every single fragment of the Joker’s character over the last 75 years appears to have been applied to his body. It’s a bizarre choice certainly. Along with a large chunk of laughter, there are playing cards on the shoulder, large smiles on the arm and hand, and a clown skull on the chest. It appears simply too on the nose. At the same time though, perhaps the thinking is that such a twisted character would indeed plaster himself with such strange artwork. This theory holds water when the ink on the right bicep of the new Clown is focused on. In a previous article I mentioned the potential death of Robin in this universe, and the tattoo, which appears to be a bird, could indicate such an event. What better way to anger Batman than to display such a tattoo?

The rest of the tattoos fall under the ‘intriguing’ rather than ‘terrible’ category. The ‘J’ under the eye, almost like a tear tattoo, is a nice addition, while the ‘Damaged’ tattoo on the forehead does not sound quite as ridiculously bad as it sounds. There is an interesting tattoo around the waist which is only partially on show. It appears to be two words ending in “YS” and “Y”. “Harley’s Only” appears to be the most popular interpretation making the rounds, and it definitely fits considering both the Joker’s and Harley Quinn’s presence in the Suicide Squad movie. As well as this, the strained look around the eyes adds to the savage crazed look effectively, and the caps on the teeth are rather brilliant. Batman is sure to knock your teeth out at least a few times. It only adds to the menace.

Overall then, it’s a mixed bag. Some parts look strange in a good way, others not so much. It is only one photo though, so we must not judge a book by its cover. Definitely Leto (ala Ledger) has made quite the impressive transformation for the role. What is also certain is that while making many nods to the Joker’s past, particularly through the tattoos, Ayer and the crew are not playing it safe, and are giving us an ambitious interpretation of everyone’s favourite clown.

Batman vs Superman Teaser Trailer Analysis and Breakdown

It’s nice to see that it’s not all just been forgotten. In Man of Steel, in an attempt to defend the world from General Zod, Superman was forced to fight on Earth against his nemesis, which appeared to cause unprecedented levels of destruction. Superman had to do all he could to stop another alien from destroying the home he loved. They were for all intents and purposes Gods fighting on human land. Of course there was to be destruction. The first trailer released for the sequel Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice seems to use this destruction as a launch pad. Sure Superman saved the day, but at what cost? His presence caused the Earth such turmoil, it is only natural that there would be a backlash. It seems that this backlash is to be led by none other than Lex Luthor himself…

Watching this trailer there are immediate details that jump out at the viewer. The slow reveal of a statue of Superman covered in graffiti reading “False God” as we hear from numerous people about their very negative feeling toward Kal-el is very powerful. There is turmoil brewing straight away, Superman is under attack. There is Clark all suited up, a concerned look on his face as people (some with skeleton paint on reminiscent of the Mexican Day of the Dead) attempt to grab at him. The people do not look particularly angry or threatening but there is definitely not love and admiration on their faces for the man from Krypton.

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Then we hear a voice, “That’s how it starts…”, potentially Alfred Pennyworth addressing the one and only Bruce Wayne. Ben Affleck’s Bruce looks on with anger in his eyes. He stares at what can only be described as a bad-ass Frank Miller-inspired Bat-suit. It’s big and it’s bulky with an imposing Bat symbol across the chest and a heap of battle marks for good measure. We shift to an abandoned building where Batman stands surrounded by graffiti. The next few shots are of presumably the Batwing flying down and obliterating what look like henchmen on the docks, followed by a hybrid 1989/Nolan Batmobile causing an explosion. Wait, Batman doesn’t kill people does he?

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We finally see Affleck in the suit walking unscathed from wreckage, and then a Dark Knight-esque shot of Batman on top of a very high building. He appears to be holding a rifle. Scouring the skies for a flying man perhaps? This hearkens back to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Retuns comic book where he used a rifle, albeit with rubber bullets. Then come the money shots. Batman in a beefed up armoured Bat-suit, rain pouring down, his illuminated eyes staring a hole through Kal-el flying above his head.

“Tell me. Do you bleed?” Superman lands, giving up the height advantage. “You will.”

It’s gritty, it’s dark, it’s imposing, and it looks brilliant. That one scene looks truly incredible.

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As with every trailer there is more than simply meets the eye. It rewards multiple viewings as little details become much more clear. Perhaps the first is the presence of Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. As we hear the voices of critics of Superman near the beginning one familiar sounding voice is heard above the rest.
“We know better now don’t we,” Eisenberg proclaims, “devils don’t come from hell beneath us. No they come from the sky.” It’s just subtle enough to slip undetected for most I assume. The exact role of Luthor remains undetermined, but it can be assumed it will have negative consequences for the Man of Steel. Superman seems to have more pressing matters though, as this trailer paints one hell of an angry Bruce Wayne. But why exactly is Bruce so furious? It’s most likely because of the destruction caused by Superman in the previous film. Maybe he feels someone needs to take Clark down for the good of the Earth.

Among the anger towards Superman there is a shot of men kneeling before the Man of Steel. If you look closely you can see the four men shown all have the symbol of the House of El on their attire. This is the most intriguing shot of the whole trailer. Have these men been tasked with taking down Superman? If so why are they kneeling before him? They could be people working with Superman, but surely Clark wouldn’t be too happy with that? Are they trying to help him without his permission? Possibly. Either way just that tiny symbol opens up a great deal of questions.

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As previously mentioned the two Bat-suits we see are very reminiscent of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns 4 comic mini-series, in which an aging Batman takes on and defeats Superman. To be quite honest, to do Batman Vs Superman and not reference Miller’s comic would have been extremely surprising given how seminal the piece is. It is the blueprint. The references to the comics and the new Batwing among other things, really give this movie more of a comic book feel than Nolan’s trilogy despite the darkness to it. It feels gritty but not as realistic as the universe Nolan built. Surely Superman himself, let alone Batman in that suit fighting Superman, would have felt extremely out of place in the Dark Knight Trilogy.

Speaking of characters out of place in a Nolan movie, hidden in the background of a shot there may very well be evidence of a boy we never thought we’d see in the Dark Knight Trilogy (but sort of did according to some). That is of course Robin. In the first shot of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne we see what looks to be a superhero costume over his right shoulder. Bruce appears to be staring at his huge Batman suit so perhaps it is the boy wonder’s attire behind him. In this movie Affleck plays an older Bruce Wayne, perhaps one who hung up his cape a while ago. Why would he have done that? Perhaps due to the unfortunate death of his sidekick, Robin AKA Jason Todd. In A Death in the Family, the famous Batman comic arc, Jason Todd died at the hands of the Joker. At numerous times since in the comics, his suit has been seen encased in a way suspiciously similar to what we see in the trailer. An option perhaps?

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There are a few other small details such as the shot of Superman holding what appears to be a Russian missile or spacecraft. This could no doubt play a part in the build of hatred towards the Man of Steel depending on what happens and how it is portrayed by the people. Equally it could very well be Superman just helping out another person in need. As well as this, in among the graffiti in an abandoned building we see a question mark, which could be a sign of the famous villain, The Riddler. However, the tone of the world Warner Bros and DC are building would seem a bit too dark for such a villain though. Other bits of graffiti are also revealing, as there appears to be the word Afrodite (Aphrodite) which obviously relates to fellow Justice League member Wonder Woman. As well as this there is the word Joe along with another name. Some have claimed the other name is a rather smudged “Harley”. This would indicate the Joker (Joe being a name he has used numerous times) and Harley Quinn.

What are also noticeable are the absentees. The rest of the Justice League make no appearance and probably wisely so. The movie has two big-hitters anyway that will sell the movie on their own. Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the rest are simply bonuses who will probably be around to set up the Justice League movie at the end of the film.

Overall, this trailer has given fans a lot to ponder over in the year before the movie’s release. It was not the best received trailer of the year, in part because of its release so shortly after the frankly incredible second Star Wars Episode VII trailer. What must be remembered though is that Star Wars is released a number of months before Batman Vs Superman, and so we will receive hopefully just as incredible footage a bit nearer to the release date. As for now, there is little to complain about. A first look at Batman in action along with a number of other cool firsts. The future is dark, and it looks like we might enjoy it that way…

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