Oli Davis puts to rest once and for all who The Joker really is torturing at the end of the Suicide Squad trailer…
Jason Todd has been getting a lot of attention in speculative fan forums recently. Warner Bros.’ one-two Comic Con combo of the new Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer and the debut Suicide Squad teaser has prompted many online theories about how the two movies are connected and what their shared backstory could be. Oddly, the majority of this has centred on one of DC’s most unpopular characters (pre-Red Hood, anyways), Jason Todd. You know, the same guy who readers once actually voted to be killed off.
One of those theories is that The Joker is actually Jason Todd. It’s an interesting argument, but that isn’t what this article is about. We’re here to put rest to who The Clown Prince of Crime is actually torturing at the end of the Suicide Squad trailer.Worst Dentist Trip Ever… (unless you’re Bill Murray in Little Shop of Horrors)
There are three main theories: 1) that it’s Jason Todd (or Dick Grayson, or any other previous Robin), 2) that it’s Dr. Harleen Quinzel (the woman who eventually becomes Harley Quinn), or 3) a randomer. Going frame by frame through the trailer, it’s possible to piece the answer together.
The trailer itself is masterful in prioritising tone over story. That’s what debut promos should do – be a teaser of the what’s to come. But, as these teasers now have to be almost feature-length themselves, fragments of the story have crept in. It’s an inevitability of how much footage and material with which the trailer editors have to work.
So, from the top, at 1:28…
(By the way, I’ve upped the brightness and contrast significantly, as it’s difficult to make out some of the neccessary details otherwise.)
This shot is barely a second long, and shows two assaliants attacking down a coridor. There are two important features here: 1) they are in costume (a creepy eyeball head and an even creepier baby mask), and 2) the left-hand side of the corridor says ‘Ward F’. We’re in a hospital. Or, possibly, an asylum.
At 1:34, after a few shots of Harley Quinn and Deadshot, there is a continuation of this shot, slightly further down the corridor. The eyeball man can be seen dead on the left-hand side of the floor, and now an attacker wearing a goat’s mask can be seen in the centre. These odd-mask wearing folk are obviously part of the same team, in a shootout with the building’s heavily armed security (another argument for it being an asylum over a hospital).
The next shot appears to be in the same building. The colour scheme is the same, as is the hospital/asylum-style decor. It’s too fuzzy to say, but it also appears that the “TO OPEN…” text in the upper right of the previous shot continues arcing in the background of this one. If so, this room is the one through the door on the Goat’s right.
Pixelated lettering aside, this is the same odd-mask and costume wearing team. There’s a panda in the far left (more on him later) and someone in an exposed muscle suit to his right. Two guards lay dead on the ground and there’s that disturbing looking surgical chair with a light towering over it in the front right. Which…
…quickly has a female doctor (blonde hair, wearing thick-rimmed glassed) thrown on by an unmasked, dark-haired, black suited man. The former appears to be Dr. Harleen Quinzel (Margot Robbie).
This one is conjecture, but the next shot appears to be a mental patient scared of the firefight around him (psychiatric ward clothing, same set dressing and colour tone). That, along with the ‘Ward F’ sign, again suggests this is an asylum instead of a hospital. Perhaps Arkham Asylum, where Dr. Harleen Quinzel works and The Joker was once a patient (in comic book continuity, anyway).
Then we have to jump forward in the trailer to this scene’s next clue, at 2:39, where The Joker is seen entering the Ward F room. The panda is still in the left hand side of the screen, the colour scheme and decor are the same, and the same overhead light occupies the right, obscuring The Joker’s face (although his pale, tattooed torso and purple gloves are clearly visible).
Back to a brief shot at 2:18, The Joker’s purple-gloved hands can be seen running down the side of Quinzel’s face. She has the same blonde hair, thick-rimmed glasses and white labcoat as the woman thrown onto the chair at 1:36, but this is more obviously Margot Robbie.
Back to 2:39, and The Joker is now standing by that same operating light, promising, “I’m not gonna kill ya.” In the bottom right, there’s an out-of-focus white blob. Look closer, and you can make out a blonde head, thick-rimmed glasses and a labcoat. It’s Quinzel yet again. This is all part of the same scene.
At 2:52, after a few shots from other scenes, The Joker pulls the operating light down to focus on his subject.
Then, immediately following it at 2:56, is a close up of The Joker, continuing his line (“I’m just gonna hurt ya, really, really bad.”), with the same operating light top right.
The Joker is torturing Dr. Harleen Quinzel, the woman who goes onto become Harley Quinn. All these shots are connected rather than being from separate scenes. The victim isn’t Jason Todd, nor Dick Grayson. This is a flashback (or opening prologue) in Suicide Squad, not a tie-in with Bruce Wayne’s Robin grief in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
This trailer, unintentionally, has revealed that Suicide Squad will contain Harley Quinn’s origin story.
BONUS JOKER, QUINN AND RICK FLAG DETAILS…
At 1:58, there is a shot of Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) becoming close with Dr. Quinzel. If you’re not convinced this is Margot Robbie (the profile shot, different costume and lighting make her more difficult to identify than Kinnaman), then look at her right earlobe. That’s the same earring seen in the 2:18 shot of The Joker running his hands alongside Quinzel’s face.
This makes sense. Originally, Rick Flag was to be played by Tom Hardy, but he had to pull out because of Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s overruning production of The Revenant. As the military officer Amanda Waller puts in charge of Task Force X (the ‘Suicide Squad’), the presumed leadership struggles against Will Smith’s Deadshot and this romantic sub-plot with pre-Harley Quinn Dr. Harleen Qunzel (which presumably sets up a serious Joker feud), Flag must be a much more prominent character than the trailer’s sparse treatment gives him credit for. If Hardy – a much bigger name – were still playing him, Flag would definitely feature far more heavily.
EXTRA BONUS JOKER/QUINN SUPPORTING PHOTOS
There’s another scene that’s intercut in the trailer, where the same gang of costumed goons who stormed Ward F, are shown attacking another building. At 2:08, it seems more industrial, with harsher light, whiter walls and commercial equipment.
And yeah, that’s the same panda.
Along with someone dressed as Batman (you can see the Batman ears on the person in the far left here).
And then full-frontal Batman mask attacking someone here. It’s just the sort of gag The Joker would pull, and might be why Batman attacks his car later on.
Also, this man who leads The Joker through the complex (the trailer’s first shot of Jared Leto), also looks a lot like the man who throws Harley Quinn down onto the surgical table.