I’m not sure if I should even bother putting a spoiler warning with this post because this rumour is so ridiculous, but just in case it is true (which would be very strange) I will chuck in a spoiler warning: because we’re going to be talking about the birth and evolution of the fan theory that is the Joker actually being Jason Todd in the DCEU.
With the birth of the DCEU we are starting to see that there are changes to the characters we know from the comics. Aquaman and The Flash aren’t blonde, Batman is older than the rest of the Justice League, Lex Luthor has the whole Silicon Valley vibe going for him, oh and the Joker has tattoos, like a lot of them.
Change is hard, and after the legendary performance that Heath Ledger gave as the Joker in The Dark Knight, it’s hard to accept a new Joker, let alone one that seems so different. And once we got our first look and pieces of information surrounding Jared Leto’s Joker, many fans entered into the stages of fan grief. You know those feelings that come around when a character you know isn’t exactly how you wanted them to be.
First there was denial. Once the image of the tatted up Joker was revealed, it was met with mixed reaction. And with the mixed reaction came the internet users with sources close to the production (of course) who insisted that this Joker image was just a homage for the Joker’s 75th anniversary and wasn’t actually his final look. So then the denial set in, with many people saying that this image didn’t even matter because it’s not how the Joker would look like anyways.
Days and weeks went past, and there were no new Joker images, just the one we got, suggesting that this in fact was the Joker’s actual look. Then came the anger. How dare David Ayer make the Joker look like white trash! The tattoos are so unsubtle, the Joker would never sit long enough to get that many tattoos etc etc (the whole argument about the Joker’s tattoos being too on-the-nose was ridiculous, considering the very unsubtle nature of the Joker).
Anger arose from judgement from an out-of-context image. Perhaps this look wouldn’t suit the Joker in The Dark Knight, but perhaps it perfectly suits the Joker in Suicide Squad? And judging from the trailer, they are definitely going for a very psychopathic Joker, so the look does work in that way.
But now we have reached our third stage of fan grief, and that is bargaining. Maybe the reason why the Joker looks like this, and seems so different from the Jokers that we’ve previously seen before is because this isn’t the real Joker, no this is actually Jason Todd!!! If you haven’t seen this theory that’s been making waves across the internet, well here’s a summary: the theory is that the real Joker is either dead or just gone, and that the Joker that we see in the trailers is actually Jason Todd, “20 years in Gotham, how many good guys are left, how many stayed that way?”. Jason Todd of course is former Robin who took up the persona of Red Hood after resurrecting from his death by the hands of the Joker. This theory has now been backed up by this image:
The scars correspond to the bullet holes in Robin’s suit.
Now I’m sure we’ll see a hundred more different reasons from fans surrounding why this theory may be true, but it just wouldn’t make any sense. Yes I know Jason Todd in the comics goes on to use the Joker’s old Red Hood persona as his own, and that in Dark Knight Strikes Again Dick Grayson becomes the Joker, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility, it would just be stupid.
Besides in the Suicide Squad trailer we clearly see the Joker torturing Harley Quinn in a flashback scene, so unless they are changing a lot and making Jason Todd connected to Harley as well, I don’t see this theory being true at all. This is a theory that was born from fans that are resistant to accept a character deviating from the ideal state they have created for the character in their mind.
Maybe the Joker just happens to look a little different in this universe. Maybe he simply has tattoos, not because he’s secretly a messed up Jason Todd, but because that’s his character. And maybe fans need to ease their way into the acceptance stage, and realise that there seems to be a very good story-telling purpose to the Joker’s look.
And that’s what’s so great about comic book characters, is that you can interpret them in different ways whilst keeping to the core of the character. We’re going to see a chaotic, psychotic Joker, keeping to his core character. But we’re also going to see a physically different looking Joker who happens to also have grills, and that’s okay!