Jingle bells, Batman smells, and Joker actor Jared Leto was so incensed at Warner Bros.’ plan to make a standalone movie about the Joker starring someone other than Jared Leto that he asked his then-music manager Irving Azoff to reach out to the studio’s parent company to get the film killed, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Leto’s camp denies the claim, Azoff hasn’t commented, the two men no longer work together, and the Reporter is vague enough about when this allegedly happened that they’re not sure whether Leto wanted Azoff to call Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner, or Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, depending on how far along AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner was at the time. If it happened, this attempt at corporate bigfooting would be the Joker’s most fiendish plan since he stole the Claridge Diamond—and this time, the intended victim was none other than the Joker himself!
Leto’s feelings about Joker have never been a secret: When news first broke that Warner Bros. was making a Joker origin story, back when the studio was courting Leonardo DiCaprio for the role eventually played by Joaquin Phoenix, it was also reported that Leto was complaining to his agents at CAA—they represented Phoenix, too—and that rival agency WME was playing the issue up in an attempt to poach the unhappy actor. That plan seems to have worked: Leto signed with WME last summer, although his team denies Joker was a factor in the decision. But this is the first time it has been reported that Leto’s Joker climbed the Warner Bros. corporate family tree in an attempt to kill Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker outright.
While there’s always been a friendly rivalry between Jokers, it’s rare for one Joker to hatch a fiendish plot to foil a different Joker’s fiendish plot. But it has happened: In a 2007 episode of The Batman, the Joker accidentally created a second Joker out of Wayne Industries nanobots and briefly teamed up with himself. But the confederacy of Jokers collapsed during a botched heist at the Gotham Jewel Depository, leading to one of the most shocking incidents of Joker-on-Joker violence in the history of Gotham City: The giant nanobot Joker constructed a giant nanobot catapult, which he used to fling the normal-sized Joker across Gotham at a speed that would surely have been fatal if not for the intervention of the Batman:
Unfortunately, both Jokers in The Batman were played by Kevin Michael Richardson, meaning that although their battle was one of the Joker’s most psychologically twisted adventures, it has only limited utility when modeling a conflict between Jokers played by different actors. (For starters, Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker contains barely any nanobots at all.) Nevertheless, an analyst at the RAND Corporation’s Hypothetical Battles Between Supervillains department was able to make at least one confident prediction, writing in a statement that the RAND Corporation has never had a “Hypothetical Battles Between Supervillains” department and never will, and that in any event, this seems like more of a “Supervillain versus Self”-type conflict, which would be handled by an equally imaginary—but distinguishable!—department of the RAND Corporation. But although battles between different Jokers and battles between different actors’ versions of the Joker are both understudied areas, we already know quite a lot about battles between different actors’ versions of different actors’ versions of the Joker. For example, here’s what happens when Noel Schefflin’s Heath Ledger’s Joker fights Jan Flugum’s Jared Leto’s Joker:
Scientists believe that Batcomputers will one day be powerful enough to model even third-derivative Joker battles—start working on your impression of Noel Schefflin’s Heath Ledger’s Joker now!—but caution that the exact details of Jared Leto’s Joker’s battle with Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker are probably lost to Joker history. But it seems like maybe Jared Leto asked his music manager to talk to the head of one of Warner Bros. parent companies about killing the film, and then nothing came of it. If so, Leto’s elaborate but ultimately fruitless scheme is the kind of pointless skullduggery that has long been the trademark of one man: The Riddler!