ScreenCrush’s Comic Strip is a weekly roundup of the hottest superhero movie/TV news items. From Marvel to DC and points in between, if it pertains to costumed comic book heroes, we’re covering it here, bringing you our expert analysis. This week, take your first blurry look at Jared Leto as the Joker, check out Michelle MacLaren’s crazy Wonder Woman ideas, and learn which Marvel character Timothy Olyphant could have played.

This May Be Our First Real Look at Jared Leto’s Joker

We are going to be spending the next year-plus talking about Jared Leto’s take on the Joker whether we like it or not, so we might as well strap ourselves in and try to enjoy the ride. Those of us who were around in the dark days of 2007 remember the internet uproar over Heath Ledger’s take on the character and how fandom decided they loved his take and hated it on a day-by-day basis. Of course, everyone ultimately landed on “loved it” after the actual movie came out, but it was a rough road getting there. Some of us still develop little eye twitches when we remember the viral reveal of Ledger’s make-up, which unleashed a Star Wars-ian level of fan outcry.

In short: things are going to be insufferable for a little bit when it comes to all things Leto/Joker, but just keep your head down and power through.

Anyway, we expect the first serious batch of yelling and screaming and debating to begin today, as a photo of a photo featuring Leto in his full Joker make-up has started to make the rounds online. Apparently, Leto should be a little more careful when he shares pictures of himself in costume in public places.

It would be downright foolish to judge an image of an image, but we’re comic book movie fans, so we are certainly going to try! At first glance, Leto looks genuinely creepy, like something out of a horror movie rather than a superhero film. Unlike the realistic, smeared make-up and stringy hair of The Dark Knight, Leto appears to have gone full comic book, with actual white skin and actual green hair (which, as you know, is what actually happens to you when you fall into chemical waste). Even at a blurry distance, it’s an unsettling look and that white suit already adds to the speculation that this version of the Joker is going to be a little more dapper than previous incarnations.

Okay, enough talk about this. Let’s wait for a proper picture before we get too worked up.

Michelle MacLaren’s Wonder Woman: What Could Have Been

Last week, director Michelle MacLaren abruptly exited Wonder Woman, leaving the internet more than a little stunned. We only hope that her replacement, the also very talented Patty Jenkins, fairs better. According to every report on the matter, the film’s development has tumultuous, to phrase it kindly.

But what exactly what went on behind closed doors between MacLaren, Warner Bros. and DC superhero movie universe maestro, Zack Snyder? According to the official statements, it was good ‘ol fashioned “creative differences.” According to Variety, the studio got cold feet about a TV director taking on such a massive movie:

Warner executives, these insiders said, became increasingly concerned about MacLaren directing a large-scale, action-packed production when her experience was limited to the small screen, where she made her name directing episodes of Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.

If that is true (and we wouldn’t doubt it), then the executives at Warner Bros. actually need to watch her episodes of Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead because she has and eye for action on a TV budget that puts most movies to shame. Thinking that she couldn’t pull something like Wonder Woman off just sounds ludicrous ... and let’s face it, probably a little sexist.

However, according to Badass Digest, the problems ran a little deeper. It seems that MacLaren had some odd ideas for the movie. Goofy ideas. Ideas that are totally at odds with the oh-so-serious films that Snyder is making:

...MacLaren had some very particular visions for the film, visions that maybe would have alienated fandom. Although perhaps Diana having a tiger sidekick/pet she could talk with would have appealed to people more than I expect.

These concepts were further discussed in a later article and it seems like MacLaren and Warner Bros. weren’t on the same page about anything:

Now to see what happens with the film. I was telling you that one of the fights with MacLaren was about time period - Zack Snyder wanted the movie to be set in the Crimean War, while MacLaren wanted WWI. I'm curious how Steve Trevor, traditionally Wonder Woman's boyfriend, fits into this movie now - MacLaren wanted to make him very much a damsel in distress character, which would have been a fun reversal, but which apparently also made Steve seem so incompetent you wondered what Diana even saw in him.

It sounds like she wanted to make something a little sillier than what the studio wanted, a middle ground could not be reached, and everyone parted ways. Now, we can only hope that MacLaren gets the feature debut she deserves and Wonder Woman ends up working out with Jenkins at the helm. It simply sounds like this project was never meant to be with MacLaren in the director’s seat and that’s just a shame.

Superhero Movie Weirdness That Never Was

Timothy Olyphant has spent the past few weeks making the talk show rounds to pimp the series finale of Justified (which apparently went over very well), but he waited until his interview on Conan to share the story of how he auditioned for the role of Tony Stark. Seriously. We love Olyphant. We adore him. He’s the bee’s knees. But try, just try, to imagine him in Iron Man instead of Robert Downey Jr. At least Olyphant has a sense of humor about it:

A wonderful actor, Robert Downey Jr. and I, we screen tested on the same day. And I'm still waiting to hear back. You know, those superhero movies are huge! That could be a real game changer.

While we’re on the subject of actors losing out on major superhero movie roles who are talking about their past experiences while promoting their TV shows, Josh Hartnett sat down with Playboy to chat about Penny Dreadful and spilled some information that should delight fans of alternate Hollywood history. It seems that Hartnett was approached about playing Batman for director Christopher Nolan and that he turned the role down. Unlike Olyphant and Iron Man, he does not seem to have a sense of humor about this one:

I’ve definitely said no to some of the wrong people. I said no because I was tired and wanted to spend more time with my friends and family. That’s frowned upon in this industry. People don’t like being told no. I don’t like it. I learned my lesson when [writer-director] Christopher Nolan and I talked about Batman. I decided it wasn’t for me. Then he didn’t want to put me in ‘The Prestige.’ They not only hired their Batman for it, they also hired my girlfriend at the time [Scarlett Johansson] ... That’s when I realized relationships were formed in the fire of that first Batman film and I should have been part of the relationship with this guy Nolan, who I felt was incredibly cool and very talented. I was so focused on not being pigeonholed and so scared of being considered only one thing as an actor. I should have thought, Well, then, work harder, man. Watching Christian Bale go on to do so many other things has been just awesome. I mean, he’s been able to overcome that. Why couldn’t I see that at the time?

And that brings us to the weirdest slice of news of the week. It seems that Channing Tatum doesn’t want just anyone to direct the Gambit movie. He’s going after some serious talent. Oscar nominees. To direct Gambit. Okay. The news comes to us from Latino Review’s El Mayimbe, making his second appearance in this week’s column:

Considering how Aronofsky dropped out of the first Wolverine movie (good call), we wouldn’t be surprised if the superhero movie well has been poisoned for him. However, we would love to see Miller make a comic book movie because there’s no way the man beyond Moneyball and Foxcatcher would make anything remotely ordinary. It would never, ever, ever, ever, ever happen. Ever. But it would be something.

Everything Else

An Avengers theme park ride, unveiled at Dubai Comic Con, is heading to the IMG Worlds of Adventure Theme Park in the United Arab Emirates.

It turns out that Marvel had two separate Phase Three game plans: one with Spider-Man and one without him.

Kodi Smit-McPhee chats about playing the new Nightcrawler in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige had some notes about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that Sony really should have considered.

Because 11 days is still so very, very far away, here is the latest Avengers: Age of Ultron featurette:

Hey! The new poster for Fantastic Four actually features the entire team in the same shot!

20th Century Fox