6 important questions we have about the Joker in Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Jared Leto – Oscar-winning actor and Thirty Seconds To Mars frontman – reprises his role as the Joker in the new version of Justice League. But what’s the deal?

6 important questions we have about the Joker in Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Zack Snyder

After months of teasing, Zack Snyder’s Justice League has finally arrived. And not only is it a four-hour epic, it also sees Thirty Seconds To Mars frontman Jared Leto reprising his role as the Joker (first seen in 2016’s Suicide Squad). We’ve just watched the whole thing, and we’ve now got some questions…

(Spoilers ahead. Obvs)

Didn’t this movie already come out?

Justice League, or to give it its new title, Zack Snyder’s Justice League, has taken an odd journey into the world. Zack left the production of Justice League in 2017 following a family tragedy, with extensive reshooting by Joss Whedon resulting in something of a Frankenstein movie, a stitched-together thing that didn’t really please anyone.

Dissatisfied fans began campaigning Warner Bros. to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut, which gained traction over the years, aided by the director’s own enthusiasm, allegations about Joss’ behavior, and the general feeling that the whole DC Extended Universe had gone a bit wrong. Zack was eventually given the opportunity and funding to complete his vision.

And now here it is, with fewer one-liners, more swearing, redesigned villains, a new structure, a darker colour palette, a vastly extended running time, a different aspect ratio and a few new scenes, which is where our boy Jared Leto comes in. Zack claims to have only shot “four or five minutes” of new footage for this version of the film, but required most of the big names in the cast to do so, plus the Thirty Seconds To Mars frontman.

Jared Leto’s Joker wasn’t in the originally released movie, but when the decision was made to complete Zack’s cut of the film, the director opted to bring him in, telling Vanity Fair: “The Joker is really the only thing that I thought of in retrospect. But I will say that it was always my intention to bring Joker into that world.” A briefly-seen clue in Zack’s earlier Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016) suggested the Joker not only existed in the world of the films, but had murdered Robin – Robin’s armour was seen, spray-painted with ‘Ha Ha, Joke’s On You, Batman’.

Knowing his cinematic universe wouldn’t be continuing, Zack opted to get the Joker into the reshoots because he felt having Batman and the Joker not cross paths would be ridiculous. He told the New York Times: “I added it because this was going to be the last movie I make for the DCU, and to have this entire cinematic universe without Batman and Joker meeting up just felt weird… The ask was for my version of the movie.”

How much Joker is there?

It’s worth pointing out that, if you love Jared Leto but can take or leave enormous metahuman theatrics, a lot of the four-hour running time might feel like something of a joyless slog. Jared only shows up for one scene a few minutes before the end (skip to three hours, 35 minutes in if you only want to see his bit). The scene is a dream sequence, a bleak future reality shown to Bruce Wayne in his sleep, and one he must work to avoid allowing to happen. You know the Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come from A Christmas Carol? He’s that.

Where are his face tattoos?

When we’ve seen Jared as the Joker before, in Suicide Squad, he’s sported bright green hair and extensive tattoos. Dye grows out, of course, but the thing with tattoos is they kind of stick around. Here, they’re just gone. That’s the short answer. And the longer answer is that while Zack apparently liked them, he wanted to try something different.

"I wanted to, of course, honour what had been created with him because I thought it was really cool," he told Beyond The Trailer. "But some water has gone under the proverbial bridge between when last we saw Joker and this appearance. He's a road-weary Joker, I guess that’s a way of saying it."

As to whether the tattoos have been removed, covered with make-up or something else entirely is going on, Zack is happy to leave it ambiguous, telling Vanity Fair: “I don’t know if he’s wearing make-up, I don’t know what’s happening. It’s hard to say exactly.”

What’s with the “We live in a society” thing?

One thing that sent the internet into a tizzy when it was shown in the trailer was the Joker’s use of the phrase, “We live in a society.” It’s something of an in-joke having shown up in memes related to the character for a few years – first in world-weary expressions of dissatisfaction at the unfairness of life, and subsequently in memes taking the piss out of the type of people who post world-weary expressions of dissatisfaction at the unfairness of life.

When the Joaquin Phoenix Joker was being filmed, there was a Change.org petition to get him to say the line. It didn’t happen. But, when the final trailers for Zack Snyder’s Justice League dropped, there it was.

(This is not the first time an online running joke about a character has ended up becoming part of a big-screen incarnation – back in prehistoric 2006, X-Men: The Last Stand featured Juggernaut, played by Vinnie Jones, uttering the line, “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch”, a reference to an early YouTube video.)

Spoiler: Joker doesn’t actually say it in the finished movie. It seems to have been a bit of a trolling move on either Zack, Jared or HBO Max’s part to get people talking about the movie even more than they would have been. Sneaky.

So… what actually happens?

The scene takes place in a yellow-skied post-apocalyptic world with Batman, Cyborg, Deathstroke, the Flash and Mera. After Batman and Mera clash, Mera questions whether Batman has ever loved anyone, and the Joker pipes up.

He’s only on screen for a few minutes but manages to do plenty of manic laughter, cheerfully reference murders he’s committed, give Mera a few goofy nicknames, reference a very specific sex act and do some excellently eerie cross-eyed staring.

To leave very little to the imagination, here are some Joker quotes from his action-packed scene:

“How many dead eyes can you look into before you die inside yourself?”

“Bruce? Kill me? You won’t kill me. I’m your best friend. Besides, who’s gonna give you a reach-around?”

“I often wonder, in how many alternate timelines do you destroy the world because frankly you don’t have the cojones to die yourself?”

While Bruce offers this cheerful ditty: “When I held Harley Quinn and she was bleeding and dying, she begged me with her last breath that when I killed you, and make no mistake, I will fucking kill you, that I’d do it slow. I’m gonna honour that promise.”

Ultimately, where does this leave everything?

No idea! The film ends setting a reasonable amount of things up – the epilogue is cliffhanger after cliffhanger after cliffhanger – although no further films are currently planned, and the movies that are currently happening are set to essentially erase the timeline of this movie from continuity. But if this is a huge success, who knows? Who knows anything, really?

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