Jared Leto’s Joker appeared in the first Suicide Squad, so where is the Clown Prince of Crime during The Suicide Squad? James Gunn relaunched the DC Extended Universe’s villain franchise in 2021 by bringing a mostly new group of characters together. The Suicide Squad’s core team consists of Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Ratcatcher 2, Polka-Dot Man, and King Shark, but they were not alone.
Margot Robbie returned as Harley Quinn for the third time to appear in The Suicide Squad. She was originally in Amanda Waller’s bad Task Force X team before she presumably died in the opening mission. Harley’s role in the movie sees her operate on her own and almost find love. Unfortunately, her possible new boy toy was a power-hungry dictator willing to kill children, which is something even Harley can’t get on board for. Although she is typically portrayed as the Joker’s girl, Harley is free of his grasp after Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). This doesn’t leave much of a chance for Joker to be part of The Suicide Squad’s story, but where he is in the DCEU while Harley and Task Force X are fighting Starro the Conqueror?
In terms of Joker’s location during The Suicide Squad’s events, that remains somewhat of a mystery based on how little of him has been shown. Suicide Squad ended with him breaking Harley out of Belle Reve so they could return to their life of crime together. Birds of Prey confirms that this toxic relationship didn’t last, with Harley’s emancipation including covering up or removing tattoos that tied her to Joker. He is still around in the DCEU and remains someone that fellow criminals are afraid of. It would stand to reason that Joker still calls Gotham his home. If that is the case, then this should be where he is during The Suicide Squad.
Joker’s absence from The Suicide Squad makes sense in the grand scheme of things too. He’s not really a fit to be part of any Task Force X lineup, and making him so would confirm that someone, like Batman, managed to defeat him in the past. Leto’s Joker has proven to be a survivor in his short time in the DCEU, especially when considering his role in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. If he’s not part of the team or dating Harley, then there is really no reason why Joker should’ve returned for The Suicide Squad.
After missing out on The Suicide Squad, though, what future does Joker have in the DCEU? There are no confirmed plans for Jared Leto to return and reprise his role as one of DC’s most iconic villains. The decision to reboot Batman with Robert Pattinson outside of the main DCEU continuity means Leto won’t go toe-to-toe with that version of The Dark Knight, and Ben Affleck’s time in the role is expected to conclude with The Flash. There were discussions about a Joker solo film for Leto or a team-up with Robbie’s Harley Quinn, but neither project has had much momentum in recent years.