James Gunn is offering a fresh take on The Suicide Squad with his sequel to the divisive 2016 movie. The cast is absolutely stacked, with Margot Robbie and Jai Courtney set to reprise their roles alongside a whole new cast of characters played by the likes of John Cena, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, and Pete Davidson. Notably absent, however, is Jared Leto, who played the divisive Joker in the first film.
When asked on Instagram about the absence of the character, Gunn offered up a reasonable explanation. "No one but me and a few others know all the characters in the movie, but if the Joker isn’t in the film, I don’t think it would be strange as he isn’t a part of the Suicide Squad in the comics," Gunn replied.
While Leto's appearance in the first film wasn't exactly met with critical praise, it was undoubtedly a jarring change. Still, his scenes were awkwardly truncated, which upset Leto and even confused some audiences.
There's a chance that the character could still show up in some sort of cameo, but the existence of the Joaquin Phoenix-starring Joker complicates matters further. The Todd Phillips-directed movie supposedly takes place outside of the larger DC movies universe and has since gone on to gross over $600 million worldwide. It is expected to eclipse 2016's Suicide Squad, which brought in a total of $746 million.
James Gunn did take a good majority of the cast to see Joker during the downtime of filming in Atlanta. That likely has no implication on whether the Joker will appear in the 2021 Suicide Squad, however. If the character does turn up, it's unclear who will take on the role now that Leto's unlikely to jump back in.