Major spoilers ahead for Todd Phillips' Joker.
Todd Phillips' Joker has been in theaters for nearly a month, and the conversation around the dark psychological drama hasn't slowed down in the days since it was released. Phillips offered something wholly unique to the comic book genre, an unsettling drama that was void of superheroes or action sequences. There were plenty of twists throughout the movie's runtime, chief among them being the truth about Arthur's relationship with Zazie Beetz' Sophie. And now we have a better idea of her character's fate.
Sophie was a much needed source of comfort and affection for Arthur, especially as his mother's health began declining. But in the third act of Joker, Joaquin Phoenix's ill-fated character lets himself into his girlfriend's apartment. But it terrifies her, as it turns out their connection was a fallacy in the mentally-ill protagonist's mind. It was left unclear whether or not Arthur murdered her, but Joker cinematographer Lawrence Sher recently cleared the air, saying:
We wanted to make the interpretation of the real versus what’s not real, a part of the viewer’s experience. For instance, his relationship to Sophie is a fantasy to him. Some people have asked me, ‘Was she killed?’ [Director Todd Phillips] makes it clear she wasn’t killed. Arthur is killing people who’ve wronged him in a certain way, and Sophie never wronged him. In terms of what we did visually to play with the real and not real, there are callbacks and scenes that mirror each other. We leave hints using imagery or way we covered scenes similarly between scene. Outside of that, I like that people can have the conversation and come to their own conclusions.
Well, that's a relief. It looks like Sophie and her daughter managed to survive Arthur Fleck's descent into madness and villainy. And while the protagonist took no issue with murdering his enemies in Joker's final act, she simply wasn't one of them.
Lawrence Sher's comments to Slash Film are sure to be a relief for countless moviegoers who saw Joker in theaters. The movie was purposefully disturbing, and Todd Philips and Joaquin Phoenix have both been universally praised for their efforts. But it's still nice to know that at least some characters were spared from The Joker's chilling origin story.
Sophie's fate in Joker was unclear, simply because of how her final scene was cut and edited. Zazie Beetz' character urged Arthur Fleck to leave her apartment, only surmising his name from passing. We saw the moment of revelation on Arthur's face, and the movie quickly cut to him walking back to his apartment. The theatrical cut didn't reveal if he killed or spared the single mother, but now we've gotten a definitive answer from someone on the crew. Sophie lives!
These comments about Sophie make a great deal of sense, given Arthur's warped sense of morality in Joker's third act. For instance, he spares Gary after killing Randall in his apartment before the Murray Franklin taping. The reason: Gary was always nice to him.