In the 2016 DC Comics movie, Leto’s version of the green-haired, pale-faced villain had the word “damaged” tattooed across his forehead.
While Ayer defended his Joker’s “originality” in a 2018 tweet, he also acknowledged that “some people found it alienating”.
“Originality and faithfulness to the canon are often at odds,” he wrote at the time.
However, years later, the filmmaker has now admitted that he regrets his decision.
In a 10 August tweet, Ayer shared an image of Joker, without tattoos, surrounded by a cloud of purple skulls. “Original intent,” he captioned it.
“David – at what stage did the ‘damaged’ tattoo come into play and whose idea was it?” a user asked.
“I own the tattoo idea 100 per cent,” the Fury filmmaker responded on Wednesday (16 August). “It was my choice.”
I own the tattoo idea 100%
It was my choice. Original idea is it would say “Blessed” and not “Damaged”
Now having said that — I regret that decision. It created acrimony and division.
Not every idea is a good idea.
And I’ll just be in the corner here while the internet… https://t.co/8no7KQy1Oe
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) August 16, 2023
He explained that his original idea had been for the tattoo to say “blessed” and not “damaged”.
“Now having said that – I regret that decision. It created acrimony and division. Not every idea is a good idea,” Ayer said. “And I’ll just be in the corner here while the internet slaps me around for this post.”
He had previously explained his thinking behind the tattoo, saying it “was meant for Batman after he smashed Joker’s teeth for killing Jason Todd [the caped crusader’s sidekick]”.
Ayer’s critically panned 2016 movie starred Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Will Smith as Deadshot, along with other dangerous incarcerated supervillains, who are assembled by a US intelligence officer for a top-secret mission. Leto’s Joker, meanwhile, embarks on his own evil agenda.
DC boss James Gunn went on to direct The Suicide Squad, a standalone sequel to Ayer’s Suicide Squad. Leto did not return for the 2021 movie, which landed a near-perfect 99 per cent on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes after its release – it currently sits at a 90 per cent critical rating.
The Morbius star, however, did reprise his role as Joker in Zack Snyder’s Justice League re-release in 2021. He returned drastically different, with all of his tattoos seemingly covered with heavy makeup.
Leto’s revised appearance sparked mixed fan reactions, with some finding his altered look “creepy”, while others felt he was more reminiscent of earlier Joker incarnations (such as Heath Ledger’s in The Dark Knight).