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Jared Leto's Joker revealed for Suicide Squad movie

Suicide Squad director David Ayer tweeted the first clear image of Jared Leto as The Joker on Friday, and quickly started a storm of comic fans' criticism.

Promotional image references art from The Killing Joke comic

Suicide Squad director David Ayer tweeted the first clear image of Jared Leto as The Joker on Friday, and quickly started a storm of comic fans' criticism.

In the image, Leto sports a ghoulish grin, short green hair, a single purple glove, roughly hewn tooth caps and a parade of tattoos, not the least of which is the word "Damaged" scrawled onto his forehead.

Suicide Squad will star Leto as The Joker and a handful of other DC Comics supervillains, including Margot Robbie as his girlfriend/lackey Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot, forming a secret black ops team taking on dangerous missions with the promise of shortened prison sentences in exchange.

The photo was released to celebrate Joker's 75th anniversary. He made his first appearance in the first issue of the Batman comic book in April 1940.

Leto's pose, as well as the repeated "HA HA HA" tattoos on his chest and arm, directly reference an iconic image from 1988's The Killing Joke, a critically acclaimed Joker story, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland.

The birth of The Joker, from the 1988 comic The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. (Brian Bolland/DC Comics)

It's not the first allusion to the comic that Ayer's made: his tweet earlier this month showed a partially-obscured Leto pointing a camera just like in the comic's cover art.

The cover art to The Killing Joke. (Brian Bolland/DC Comics)

The new take is, as far as we can tell from this teaser image, a far cry from the goofy gangster version portrayed in 1989 by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning version in 2008's The Dark Knight.

Critics and some fans, however, didn't greet the new image with as much humour, likening the tattooed, wide-eyed portrayal to Marilyn Manson and the Insane Clown Posse.

"It's a dramatically different take on the character that should please those who have long found this psychotic clown too subtle," writes the AV Club's Sean O'Neal, dripping in as much sarcasm as The Joker was dripping in chemical waste in his origin story.

"He fell into a toxic vat filled with Marilyn Manson CDs and anger at his boss. He got those scars because he cut himself on the world."

Some took the opportunity to add their own flourishes to Leto's Joker. Some felt it resembled the "extreme" video game advertisements of the 1990s...

...or the cover for the Game of the Year version of the video game Batman: Arkham City, which was plastered with more awards accolades and quotes than pictures of Batman.

For some, Leto's grimace reminded them of a classic film starring Macaulay Culkin:

And, of course, others wondered whether a similar art direction would inform Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne in the upcoming Batman v Superman.

Of course, there's no knowing how much of this promotional image we'll see in Leto's portrayal once Suicide Squad is completed. Fans will have at least a year to argue about whether this will be the best Joker ever, or the worst: it's scheduled for release in August 2016.

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