Harley Quinn’s introduction in ‘Suicide Squad’ may very well have shut down a major theory DC fans have had about the true identity of Jared Leto’s Joker and the fate of Batman’s former sidekick, Robin.
In a flashback outlining Harley Quinn’s history and skill set, a list of crimes briefly appears on screen which explicitly includes her involvement in the murder of Robin. But according to one developed prior to the movie’s release, the tattooed Joker portrayed by Jared Leto in this DCEU is actually a former Robin, and the second person to call himself the Joker.
The theory rests largely on three factors: the unusually different look of Leto’s Joker, the battered Robin suit seen in Batman v Superman with the phrase “Hahah joke’s on you Batman” spray painted on it, and the relative age difference between Ben Affleck’s midlife Batman and a late-20s looking Joker.
While most fans assumed that the vandalized Robin suit seen in Batman V Superman was an allusion to the “Death in the Family” story from the 1980s where the Joker kidnaps and kills Robin, others believe that the DCEU is instead borrowing from Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. In that animated film, the Joker kidnaps Robin (this time Tim Drake) and psychologically tortures him until he snaps and turns into a deranged “Joker Junior.” The original Joker ends up dying in a rescue mission fronted by Batman, but Robin never recovers from the psychological damage.
Fans proposed that Jared Leto’s Joker was actually a Robin who was “damaged” (his grills there because the original Joker knocked his teeth out, his tattoos being graffiti the Clown Prince of Crime sketched on his skin for a laugh) to the point of taking on the Joker mantle after Joker #1 was killed by Batman. It’s thought that the kidnapping and seduction of Robin was what finally tipped Ben Affleck’s Batman over the edge and turned him into the killer we see in Batman v Superman, with Joker being his first victim.
If Leto’s Joker was #2, then perhaps his seduction of Dr. Harleen Quinzel was his attempt to find the next successor to keep the legacy of Joker alive. This would explain the initiation like treatment she went through by diving into the vat of chemicals in the movie, as well as why this Joker seems more obsessed with keeping Harley safe than other incarnations.
But according to Harley’s on screen bio in ‘Suicide Squad,’ she helped kill Robin. This of course suggests that the Robin of the DCEU really is dead, and that Harley, presumably alongside the Joker – Leto’s Joker – were responsible.
So does this new piece of information completely kill the Joker = Robin theory? It seems like it almost certainly does, but there are a few possibilities to consider, however unlikely:
The first is that David Ayer and co were intentionally trying to throw fans off, and that Harley Quinn “killed” Robin in a poetic sense: through finding a partner in Harley, the new Joker destroyed any traces of the old Robin and sense of sanity buried inside of him.
Alternatively, it’s possible that this Joker is the Jason Todd Robin, and once transformed into the Joker he and Harley kidnapped and murdered a Tim Drake or Damian Wayne type Robin that Batman “replaced” Jason with. A similar idea was explored in Batman: Arkham Knight where Jason Todd despised Tim Drake after learning Drake had replaced him as Robin when the Joker kidnapped him. Coincidentally, the Jason in Arkham Knight is branded with a “J” underneath his left eye, not unlike the “J” tattoo the DCEU’s Joker has in the exact same spot.
However, both of these theories are admittedly pretty big stretches that require a lot of assuming. And if had anything to say about writing a screenplay, it would tell us that the theory with the least amount of assumptions is probably the correct one. So odds are, Harley Quinn’s bio is genuine and Robin was killed by her and the original, one and only, Joker.
But what do you think? Do you believe there’s only one Joker, or are you still convinced Leto’s is a different character altogether? Personally I’ll believe this Joker is an ex-Robin until we outright see a flashback scene of Robin’s capture. But let us know what theories you believe in the comments and over on Facebook.
@coreyvan38 comes from the distant land of Toronto, Canada. He’s written nerdy stories for blogTO, The Varsity, and ButtonMasherTO.