Jared Leto as The Joker? What You Need to Know About the New Comic Book Flick 'Suicide Squad'

Also, Oprah Winfrey is Warner Brothers' top choice for a role in this film

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty; Jerry Robinson/DC Comics/AP

This week’s big comic book movie news comes courtesy of Warner Bros., who just announced the all-star cast of the upcoming film Suicide Squad.

The biggest revelation was probably that Jared Leto will have the unenviable task of following Heath Ledger‘s legendary turn as The Joker (opposite Christian Bale‘s Batman in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight), but it was also announced that Will Smith, Tom Hardy, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney and Cara Delevingne will round out the cast. The film will be directed by David Ayer, whose most recent flick was the Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf-fronted WWII tank epic Fury, and it’s set to begin filming next April in Toronto.

Just one problem: A lot of people have no idea what Suicide Squad is. So, like any good superhero, we’re here to help.

Basically, the 30-second pitch behind Suicide Squad is this: The government offers a group of supervillains lightened sentences in exchange for performing horribly dangerous missions. They don’t get along, they don’t like their handlers, and they don’t officially exist.

The series dates back to 1987 and has seen many characters make up the Squad, but the cast for this adaptation is as follows: The Joker (Leto), Deadshot (Smith), Rick Flag (Hardy), Harley Quinn (Robbie), Boomerang (Courtney) and Enchantress (Delevingne).

Deadshot and Harley Quinn are probably the most popular non-Joker characters out of that set: Deadshot had his own series for a while, and Harley Quinn has a fairly popular solo series of her own. (Read our interview with artist and writer Amanda Conner here.)

There are two big casting holes that were left open-ended by the announcement, though. One is Lex Luthor: Jesse Eisenberg is confirmed to play the character first in Zack Synder’s upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and his presence in Squad is still up in the air.

The other is the character of Dr. Amanda Waller, the Squad’s government liaison. She was played by Pam Grier on the small screen in Smallville and by Angela Bassett in 2011’s Ryan Reynolds-starring Green Lantern. Pay very close attention to this next sentence: Variety‘s sources claim that Oprah Winfrey is WB’s first choice for the part, though Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are also reportedly shortlisted.

WB and DC could be accused of aping Marvel’s “let’s pluck an obscure team of ragtag anti-heroes from our archive and make an ensemble action film” strategy, which helped make Guardians of the Galaxy one of 2014’s biggest hits, but it’s important to note that while Guardians had Chris Pratt‘s charm, a dancing baby tree and a talking raccoon, it did not have Oprah-damn-Winfrey.

Excited yet?

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