Does the World Really Need Two Jokers?

Leonardo Dicaprio and Jared Leto - Split - Getty - H 2017
Left, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Right, Photofest
Jared Leto is already the Clown Prince of Crime, but Leonardo DiCaprio is at the top of Warner Bros.' wishlist for a stand-alone.

It's a tale of two Jokers.

Earlier Friday, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Warner Bros. is interested in an A-lister to tackle its Joker stand-alone movie — and it has its sights set on Leonardo DiCaprio

There's already been a strong response to the idea of two Jokers existing simultaneously on the big screen. News broke last week that Jared Leto's version would be appearing in a Suicide Squad sequel as well as a Joker and Harley Quinn spinoff, while the studio would be creating a separate label for DC films, starting with a Joker origin story. The idea of two Jokers set the internet ablaze almost instantly, and that was before the latest bombshell.

The idea of someone of DiCaprio's caliber being eyed for the role adds even more to the pot — which is why Heat Vision's Ryan Parker, Graeme McMillan and Aaron Couch have assembled to take a closer look at the latest development.

Ryan Parker: If Warners just has to do this, I think they would be better off with an actor who is bit of an unknown. Why? I didn't think Jared Leto was a good Joker. Yeah, I said it. And it had nothing to do with his acting. I think he is brilliant. I just couldn't not see Jared Leto. He has already played unique characters and his public persona makes him out to be a somewhat bizarre dude in real life, so I couldn't lose myself in his Joker. Heath Ledger (Oh, here he goes) was brilliant, because we'd never seen anything like that from him before. And before you @ me about Nicholson, he was the first actor to bring that character to life on the big screen and in a serious fashion, so you couldn't help but be enthralled. 

Aaron Couch: OK, I'm going to call you out on Nicholson there. I'm so glad we live in a world where there's a Jack Nicholson Joker. I'm even glad we live in a world where I can watch George Clooney as Batman. I know A-listers can take you out of a movie sometimes ... but the idea is just too bizarre to pass up.

Graeme McMillan: Steady on, Aaron. I'm also ganging up on Ryan for letting Jack Nicholson have a free pass, as his Joker was little more than "Jack Nicholson after he's had some white-out poured on him for an hour or so." I mean, sure, he was the first "serious" Joker, but come on. 

Couch: Back to Nicholson, Clooney and Leo: Part of the fun of the non-Christopher Nolan DC movies is that they are such a spectacle. People may gripe about Batman v. Superman or Suicide Squad, but they've provided hours of entertainment. I'm not necessarily talking about the hours spent in the theater, but rather just in the amount of discussions we have all had with people about them: their merits, their pitfalls and everything in between. And think for a moment about posterity. How could you possibly not want to see what DiCaprio (or someone of his caliber) can do with the Joker, just for the historical value, as we look back decades from now?

Parker: Leo has been around too long and played too many characters with anger issues or mental health struggles to pull off a Joker that I can get lost in. I mean, isn't that the point?! To forget you're watching an actor? I would see him up onscreen and be like, "Oh, there's Calvin J. Candie (Django Unchained) or "There's Edward 'Teddy' Daniels (Shutter Island)" or "There's Jordan Belfort (Wolf of Wall Street)." I think the film in general is an awful idea, which would just be that much more compounded with Leo's casting. 

McMillan: There's something about the idea of a DiCaprio Joker that just feels … desperate? I can imagine him being persuaded to take the part by producers telling him how iconic the character is, and how damaged, and that it would be his chance to put his stamp on one of cinema's most famous villains, and it's as if I can already see the "For Your Consideration" posters in my head. One of the things I liked least about the Christopher Nolan Batman movies were how self-important they came across — this idea that they're "more" than just superhero movies, that they're Art-with-a-captial-A that "says something" about the world — and the very prospect of a DiCaprio Joker just feels like that pretention, only more so. 

Couch: Graeme, you know I consider Nolan my movie Lord and Savior, so that one hurts. The idea that Warners wants an A-lister and is going to create a label specifically for more opportunities like the Nolan films is why this is so exciting. People complain that DC has been trying to imitate Marvel's shared universe success, and this can be its chance to excel in an area where Marvel hasn't cornered the market — stand-alone movies. Imagine if we got something on the caliber of a stand-alone like Logan every year?

McMillan: I love the idea of out-of-continuity DC movies, I just wish it were happening with a different character. Doing another Joker movie, no matter who stars in it, feels like it's going over the same ground we've been over many, many times before. It's a summer that saw Wonder Woman break out by offering an alternative to the same-old, same-old, so this just feels like a step backwards to me.