When Warner Bros., not too long ago, announced its own ambitious plans of building a cinematic universe around DC comics based superheroes, paralleling the Marvel saga, there was a lot of buzz and excitement. Even if our opinions are divided as to how good the upcoming DC based universe would be, most of us are eagerly looking forward to catch a glimpse of these movies. They after all will bring some of our beloved comic heroes to the big screen, like Superman and Batman. Another big name making his return to the theatres will be Joker.
The arch-nemesis of Batman was played superbly last by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. After eight years, Joker will be seen again in Suicide Squad, this time being played by Jared Leto. When Leto’s name was announced for this role, I was genuinely excited as to the kind of personality he could bring to this eccentric, intelligent and dangerous criminal. Leto does not necessarily have to continue with Heath Ledger’s act, and could rather bring in his own style and mannerisms to this character. Joker is after all a complex and colourful fellow. So like many others, I am looking forward to the 2016 release of Suicide Squad which is being directed by David Ayer and will also star Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney and a few more. The thing that is annoying me about the movie now though is that its publicity has started too soon and too aggressively, an unnecessary overdose especially on Joker. There is an article on it every other day, and it just won’t shut up.
The director of the previous Batman franchise, Christopher Nolan, loves working in secrecy. Little is known about the plots that he is working on, and the teasers and promos begin at the right time to build on the expectations as the release date approaches. The Dark Knight got more attention early on because of the unfortunate demise of Heath Ledger, but apart from that, Nolan does enough to bring his movie to your attention without getting in your way. Now if only others could learn something from him.
In this age of social media, it is easy to advertise about anything, definitely about movies. So tweet a line, post a picture on Instagram, add a news article on Facebook, it hardly costs anything, and it keeps the movie in the minds of the audience. How much of this actually translates into audience buying a ticket is still suspect, but some studios will still keep trying. So this is what is being done around Suicide Squad, by talking about the one thing that would seem most alluring about the movie, that is Joker.
The most recent activity has been on Snapchat where Jared Leto sent a video that sees him spinning in a room, where he is supposed to look a little crazy like Joker. It’s a ridiculous and unnecessary video that would hardly give anyone goosebumps, especially on seeing a mute Joker with no makeup. Prior to that they released the new blonde hairstyle of Joker / Jared Leto via Instagram. A few days back, David Ayer posted a picture on Jared Leto’s ponytail about to be cut. Oh my, am I supposed to be thrilled by that?
In a recent interview, Jared Leto also talked about how “he will have to gain weight for the role”. Then when on Twitter someone asked Ayer what folks should expect Jared Leto’s Joker to be like, Ayer responded, “Majestic.” That itself became a news story in which some websites discussed how a ‘Majestic’ Joker would be different from the previous versions. And this is just the beginning, for the movie’s filming has not even started yet.
Some of this has to get on your nerves if you really love your movies and your comic characters. The whole beauty of being seated in that cinema hall is to be hit with surprises, to be shocked and unnerved underneath those dimmed lights, and to be enthralled and entertained. Suicide Squad is a massive movie, undoubtedly, and it might be critical for Warner Bros. to make it work for the whole DC cinematic universe to function smoothly. But the way the studio is going ahead with its promotional plans is becoming jarring and annoying. The movie releases in August 2016, more than a year from now, and if I am told today itself that “this is how Joker will look” and “this is how he will talk”, then what will I look forward to when the movie is actually closer to its release? The charm would have been lost. It is already being lost. Maybe I will go to see the others, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot. Or better to stop reading on all the Joker-articles that are being aggressively marketed, so then when the lights actually go dim in the theatre hall, and Joker gives his eerie laugh, I would feel those goosebumps all over again. David Ayer is a wonderful director, going from strength to strength (I loved his work in Fury); Jared Leto is a serious powerful actor. So with the two of them working closely, they should be giving us a hell of a Joker. If only they would stop continuously talking about it…
And just to remind you of the good old days when the movie did all the talking…