There’s no point in becoming an actor if you don’t have supreme confidence in your own abilities, especially if you end up playing a part that’s already been brought to iconic life by somebody else. In Jared Leto’s case, his Joker had to follow in the huge footsteps of both Jack Nicholson’s scenery-devouring turn in Tim Burton’s Batman and Heath Ledger’s Academy Award winning tour de force in The Dark Knight.
That’s a tall task for any actor, and even if David Ayer’s Suicide Squad hadn’t been butchered in post-production to leave the majority of Leto’s scenes on the cutting room floor and was released in its originally intended vision, there are still no guarantees that his Clown Prince of Crime could have even come close to matching his predecessors, and that’s without even mentioning that fans had their knives out from the second his heavily tattooed spin on the character was first revealed.
Joaquin Phoenix then stepped in to deliver another Academy Award winning performance as the Jester of Genocide in Todd Phillips’ awards-baiting box office behemoth, pushing Leto even further down the pantheon of Jokers. Luckily, Zack Snyder offered the Fight Club star a shot at redemption in Justice League, and he’s since found himself linked to well over a dozen projects both real and entirely hypothetical.
Where his career as the villain goes from here remains to be seen, but insider Daniel Richtman claims that Leto believes he could be a better Joker than Phoenix, and in all honesty, why wouldn’t he? He’s an Oscar winner in his own right, and an actor of his reputation that’s built their career on becoming known for immersion, commitment and dedication wouldn’t have tackled the legendary villain in the first place if he didn’t believe he could do it better than anyone else, past or future.