Jared Leto Joker Suicide Squad
Jared Leto and The Joker in Alan Moore's seminal story The Killing Joke. Getty / DC Comics

Oscar-winner Jared Leto will follow in the footsteps of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger when he portrays the next big screen version of Batman nemesis The Joker.

Leto will play the Clown Prince of Crime in David Ayer's Suicide Squad, starring opposite Will Smith as Deadshot, Tom Hardy as Rick Flagg, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, and Cara Delevigne as Enchantress.

Warner Bros confirmed the cast and characters for the third entry in their DC Comics movie universe last night.

Suicide Squad
The Suicide Squad as depicted in comics. DC

Each of the names attached to the film had been rumoured at one stage or another, which is probably why Warner Bros felt compelled to reveal the characters they will be playing.

According to widespread reports Jesse Eisenberg will also show up as Lex Luthor – reprising his role from 2016's other major DC movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is still in production.

According to Variety, Warner Bros are still seeking to cast the role of Amanda Waller, who oversees the Squad and is sometimes used as a villain. In wonderfully barmy news, Oprah Winfrey is apparently front runner for the role, with WB also looking at Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis for the part.

Suicide Squad is about a group of incarcerated supervillains given a chance at redemption by the US government, who task them with black ops missions they aren't expected to survive.

Being a Marvel-like connected universe of films, it's likely most of the actors have signed multi-picture deals. Will Smith signing certainly opens up the possibility of Deadshot getting his own film down the line for example, and Leto is bound to partner with Robbie (as Joker's squeeze Quinn) to star opposite Ben Affleck's Batman further down the line.

Suicide Squad will be directed by David Ayer, who is working from the script by Justin Marks. The film will be released on 5 August 2016.