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After a rocky start to the DCEU, Warner Bros. seems to have really hit its stride with its comic book properties. The shared universe has had a series of hits, and then there's the insane acclaim and box office draw of Joker. Set outside the DCEU, Todd Phillips' dark psychological drama was an unsettling experience that broke records and recently picked up 4 Golden Globe nominations. Joker's contents and ending have also provided much discussion for the fans, and now Phillips is stoking the fires about whether or not Arthur Fleck is the real Joker.
Joker follows Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur, a mentally ill party clown who is beaten down by Gotham City throughout the course of the movie. Arthur's mental decline also makes him an unreliable narrator, as he suffers from delusions like his relationship with Sophie. As such, there's a question over pretty much everything we were shown throughout the course of the movie, including him becoming the iconic title character. Todd Phillips recently addressed the conversation around Joker's ending, saying:
There’s many ways to look at the movie. He might not be Joker. This is just a version of a Joker origin. It’s just the version this guy is telling in this room at a mental institution. I don’t know that he’s the most reliable narrator in the world, you know what I’m saying?
Do you hear that sound? It's the beginning of countless more fan theories about Joker. Todd Phillips knows the movie better than anyone, so if he thinks it's up for interpretation, then there's certainly the possibility that the entire movie was just in Arthur's head from within Arkham Asylum.
Todd Phillips' comments come from a behind the scenes featurette from Joker's digital release (via Comic Book). The movie is certainly one that warrants plenty of discussion after, as the theatrical experience was gripping and grueling. Joker's myriad twists and Arthur's lack of stability puts every frame of the movie into question. Because he could have easily made it all up in his state of psychosis within the Asylum.
Joker's ending was a powerful one, as he murders Murray Franklin on live television, and inspires a city-wide riot. But at the height of its frenzy, the scene suddenly changes. We're shown Arthur Fleck institutionalized, and laughing to himself. When asked what joke he was laughing at, he simply tells his new therapist that she "wouldn't get it."
This could simply mean that the events of Joker were a memory, one of Arthur's rise to the Clown Prince of Crime. But on the flip side, it's possible that the entire thing was just a delusion in his mind, and he isn't responsible for the birth of Batman. Clearly Todd Phillips loves this ongoing discussion, and is happy to add fuel to the fire.
Joker is currently available digitally now, and will arrive in DVD and Blu-ray on January 7th. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.