Joker stands apart from previous cinematic portrayals of the Clown Prince of Crime, with Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck being a very different character from the Batman nemesis played by the likes of Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Jared Leto. Despite that, there are still a few connections to the villain’s past scattered throughout the movie. For instance, fans have previously spotted nods to both Ledger and the Batman 66 franchise.
Here’s another neat link that hasn’t been noticed before, though, which calls back to a memorable scene from 1989’s Batman movie, directed by Tim Burton and starring Nicholson as Jack Napier. As noted by Reddit user u/googsmaster24 on the r/MovieDetails subreddit, there’s a painting on Fleck’s living room wall in Joker that also appeared in Batman 89.
See for yourself in the image below:
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The painting turns up in Burton’s film when the Joker and his goons storm the art gallery at Gotham Museum, vandalizing artwork as they go – Prince’s “Partyman” is memorably heard on the soundtrack for this sequence. The last portrait they’re seen to ruin is this one. Titled “Boy in Blue,” it was painted by Thomas Gainsborough in 1770 during the Rococco period.
This is a highly obscure way to connect the two portrayals of the Joker, so much so that, honestly, it could easily have been a coincidence on the part of the Joker set designers and not a deliberate homage to Nicholson. Even if that is the case, though, it’s still a fun unintentional connection to the character’s past. And proof that superhero fans are so good at locating easter eggs that they sometimes manage to make their own.
Joker is up for a whopping 11 nominations – including Best Picture, Actor and Director – at this year’s Academy Awards, with the ceremony taking place on February 10th in a couple of weeks. A sequel seems certain at this point, too, but has yet to be officially announced.