Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for The Suicide Squad.
At the end of Suicide Squad in 2016, Harley Quinn is (mostly) ready to move on from the Joker. But that hasn't stopped fans from wondering if Gotham's favorite clown is in The Suicide Squad. To be fair, the latter isn't meant to be a sequel to the 2016 version, but it's also not a reboot, as it stands on its own. And since some of the same characters are back, it's only natural to wonder if the Joker pops in at some point.
So, is the Joker in 'The Suicide Squad'?
Some fans might not be able to picture The Suicide Squad without the Clown Prince of Crime, but they'll have to. Because even though the Joker is in Suicide Squad, he's not part of The Suicide Squad cast in 2021. Director James Gunn spoke to The New York Times about his decision not to include the Joker in any form in his movie.
He explained that he was given the choice to pick which characters and actors would return for The Suicide Squad movie. Warner Bros. even offered to let him prevent Margot Robbie from reprising her role as Harley Quinn.
But, James said, he didn't think including the Joker was necessary for his version of The Suicide Squad.
"I wanted it to be its own thing completely," he said. "When Warner Bros. said they wanted me to do this, I watched the first movie for the first time, and I called them back and said, 'What do I have to keep from this movie?' And they said, 'Nothing.'"
James still opted to have Harley Quinn and a few other choice characters, including Captain Boomerang and Rick Flag, come back, though.
He added that he doesn't know "why Joker would be in the Suicide Squad [team]. He wouldn't be helpful in that type of war situation."
To be fair, James isn't wrong. The premise of The Suicide Squad involves the team traveling to a South American island nation to destroy a Nazi-era lab, and picturing the Joker in that situation just doesn't work.
James Gunn wanted to focus on a different male character.
James also told The New York Times that instead of including the Joker in The Suicide Squad, he wanted to shift some of the focus of a male to Idris Elba's Bloodsport. The villain-turned-member of Task Force X shoots Superman with a kryptonite bullet in the DC comics.
He also has a daughter out in the real world who knows him as a man rather than a big bad. James wanted to make him more of the protagonist than any other character.
What happens to the Joker in 'Suicide Squad'?
Jared Leto introduced his version of the Joker in Suicide Squad in 2016. He spends much of the movie trying to "rescue" Harley Quinn from the clutches of the task force she's on. And at first, she wants to escape with Mr. J. Once he pushes her from a helicopter, however, and she nearly falls to her death, she has no choice but to return to the rest of the squad.
Many fans presumed the Joker had died in the crash, but Suicide Squad director David Ayer explained on Twitter in 2018 that Joker survived the crash. In fact, David planned to have the Joker make a deal with Enchantress and try to rule Gotham with Harley Quinn at his side.
Obviously, that doesn't happen in the 2016 movie and the Joker is alive, but he's still not part of The Suicide Squad.