Joker Director Explains Why The Last Scene Is So Important


Now that the fear-mongering is behind us and Joker reigned supreme at the box office with the biggest October opening in history, we can discuss the finer aspects of the film like civilized folk. And considering how director Todd Phillips injected much ambiguity into the thing, we’re all like Arthur Fleck in the sense that we’re left wondering what’s real and what isn’t.

Even though the movie was largely an original exploration of the Clown Prince of Crime’s beginnings, one could certainly say that it adhered to the “multiple choice” aspect often applied to his comic book origins. In other words, there really isn’t one true origin for the character – even if Batman: The Killing Joke is the one readers reference most. After all, the Ace of Knaves sometimes remembers things one way, other times another.

Before I get into specifics pertaining to the flick itself, here’s what Phillips told the Los Angeles Times about the somewhat mind-bending ending:

“There’s a lot of ways you could look at this movie. You could look at it and go, ‘This is just one of his multiple-choice stories. None of it happened.’ I don’t want to say what it is. But a lot of people I’ve shown it to have said, ‘Oh, I get it — he’s just made up a story. The whole movie is the joke. It’s this thing this guy in Arkham Asylum concocted. He might not even be the Joker.’ ”

If you were to ask me, I think most of the events shown to us actually happened. I think one of the major exceptions may have been the crowd of rioting clowns cheering for Arthur, because he seems to have a yearning for approval. Similar to the Murray Franklin fantasy at the beginning of the movie and his delusions of a romantic relationship with his neighbor, I think, in reality, he was probably knocked unconscious by the car crash and later woke up in Arkham.

To extrapolate on this notion, another quote from Phillips feeds my personal belief, that being:

“That laugh in that scene is really the only time he laughs genuinely. There are different laughs in the movie. There is the laugh from Arthur’s affliction and then there is his fake laugh when he’s trying to be ‘one of the people,’ which is my favorite laugh. But at the end, when he’s in the room at Arkham State Hospital, that’s his only genuine laugh in the movie.”

The several references to greater Batman mythos further aid me in thinking much of what went down was genuine – particularly the murder of the Waynes. As you should recall, they were killed by someone who wasn’t even Arthur, though I could see him finding young Bruce having to grow up without a father figure like he did to be a real knee-slapper. To him, that’s the joke.

But isn’t this what’s so great about Joker? Face it: these topics may be forever debated. If it were up to me, Warner Bros. would get going on a sequel, because I’d like to see what Joaquin Phoenix could do as a full-blown iteration of the supervillain.