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The Joker

Suicide Squad
by yo go re

In honor of the Oscar-winning Suicide Squad, Stephen Sondheim's classic song shall henceforth be known by its new title, "Send in the Manorexic Juggalos."

Deep dark confession time: for all that we love to make fun of Suicide Squad around here (and boy, do we love to make fun of Suicide Squad), Jared Leto's Joker was good. Very good. Yes, he may look a little bit silly [A little bit? He redefined the word "tryhard." --ed.], but if you can look past the tattoos (which, according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, were every bit of an achievement as the makeup effects work in An American Werewolf in London, Terminator 2, or Pan's Labyrinth), his personality was spot on. Nicholson was a gangster, Ledger was an anarchist, but Leto is a hedonist, doing the things he does because he thinks they're fun. He's creepy, dangerous, unsettling to be around... that's what the Joker should be, and all the stories in the world about stupid method acting can't take away the fact that Leto delivered.

This is the third Joker available in the line, but the first at mass retail. The others were exclusives at Toys Я Us and SDCC, and yet both of them were easier to get than this one - Suicide Squad came out seven months ago, but it's just now that people have really reported finding these figures.

The major thing that sets this Joker apart from the previous is his outfit. Rather than wearing a flash silver jacket and a red shirt, this version is wearing a purple pimp coat, is topless and barefoot, and has on pants he took from Arkham (they're elastic-waisted - no belts in the big house - and have "ARKHAM" printed down the left leg). You might expect a facility meant to house the criminally insane might dress their inmates in something brighter and more eye-catching, in case of the inevitable escape, but these pants are a dark blue. Of course, you might also expect a toy company to put their toy in something he actually wore in the film: the upper body comes from the scene where he and his goons attack a lab (though he should be wearing several necklaces, too), while the lower body comes from the "I'm just gonna hurt ya, really, really bad" bit. It's like releasing a Wolverine toy that has his X-Men uniform pants, but then a tank top and his dusty old jacket.

Joker's likeness is not very good. In profile, sure, it's recognizably the once and future Jordan Catalano, but head-on, it could be anyone. It may not look like Leto, but it does look like The Joker: white skin, green hair, dark circles around the eyes, red mouth... silver teeth and a few goofy tattoos can't derail all that.

And speaking of being derailed by something goofy, the fact that Joker's shirtless means we can see most of his chest ink: the jester skull, a bunch of "Ha Ha Ha"s and some cards on his shoulder, and the "JOKER" and big smile on his stomach. Obviously there's a big red smile on his left hand, but nothing on his right hand or his feet, and nothing on his sides or back, because who's ever going to look? They're painted cleanly, which is important for something as ridiculous as this. Reminder: according to the Academy Awards, the makeup in Suicide Squad was objectively better than anything ever seen in Legend, Edward Scissorhands, Pirates of the Caribbean or Guardians of the Galaxy.

The articulation of this figure is just as worthy of praise as all Mattel's superhero product. Once again, can anyone explain why the wrestling toys can be so good, while the DC toys are so bad? Come on, hinged ankles, hinged knees, swivel thighs, H-crotch, swivel waist, hinged torso, swivel wrists, hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a vaguely balljointed head? Even if he wasn't wearing a long coat that gets in the way of the chest hinge, that wouldn't be enough. His only accessory is a purple cane with a golden handle - exactly the kind of thing you'd need if a savagely violent Batman were constantly kicking your ass. Joker's probably had his legs broken more times than he can count.

Fittingly, Joker gets the companion to Harley's Build-A-Figure piece, the right leg of Killer Croc. And so no matter which version of him you want to build, you'll have to get this Joker. Lucky you.

Mattel really halfassed this figure. Everything from the design (mixing two different costumes into one) to the execution (their usual lame articulation) and even the worse-than-usual distribution were part of a full trend of disappointment. Jared Leto's take on the Joker may not have been fanboys' favorite, but it was good, and it deserved better than this.

-- 03/08/17

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