Joker Director Teases That Joaquin Phoenix’s Character Isn’t The Real Joker


Joker is currently taking the world by storm with its wholly original, psychological take on the origins of Batman’s nemesis. Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal is like no other version of the Clown Prince of Crime we’ve yet to see on film, and that might be because he’s not actually the one and only Joker, after all.

Speaking to Los Angeles Times, director Todd Phillips dropped the surprising suggestion that Arthur Fleck, the character who dons a clown make-up and ends up calling himself the Joker by the movie’s conclusion, might not be the “real” Joker, who’ll go on to battle the Dark Knight once Bruce Wayne’s all grown up.

“Maybe Joaquin’s character inspired the Joker. You don’t really know. His last line in the movie is, ‘You wouldn’t get it.’ There’s a lot going on in there that’s interesting.”

Even before Phillips made this comment, you could definitely view the film that way. After all, by the end, Fleck has become something of a hero to the oppressed working class folk of Gotham, who cause a chaotic riot while wearing clown masks. One of them even kills Thomas and Martha Wayne. It’s entirely possible that one of them in this crowd – maybe even the Waynes’ murderer a la 1989’s Batman – is the real Joker.

Funnily enough, a similar ambiguous origin for the Joker was used in FOX’s Gothamwith showrunner John Stephens voicing the idea that Cameron Monaghan’s Jeremiah Valeska is only the inspiration for the real Joker’s emergence later down the line. Due to Monaghan’s popularity, though, most fans tend to ignore this notion. It’s likely a lot of Joker lovers will likewise do the same with Phillips’ comment, too, but it’s still an interesting alternate interpretation of the story.