What would you do if society expected you to behave in a way that – because of your mental condition, your hormones or your upbringing – you just can’t?
What happens when society corners you precisely because it cannot understand that aspect that makes you different? Those are the questions director Todd Phillips – recognized by the trilogy of Hangover – , based on the plot of Joker, a film that even before its release had already generated controversy and frequently was a huge topic on social networks, for taking distances from the films associated with the characters of comics, and also for its particular perspective on violence.
Now, if after watching the movie you have any questions, doubts or questions, you have reached the right place because right now, and without further ado, we will explain what happened in Joker. Keep on reading!
1 | Is there a post-credits scene in Joker?
Despite being part of the so-called rebirth of the DC Cinematic Universe, Joker has no post-credits scenes, although it is clear that they did have one in mind. What happenned is that, for some reason that surely has to do with taking distance from Marvel and with the previous DC Universe, Warner producers simply integrated the additional scene as an epilogue, before the credits.
This epilogue we are talking about shows the Joker in a mental institution – probably Arkham – being interviewed by a specialist. Then we see Joker walking down a hospital corridor, leaving a bloody print along it, and then being chased by someone from the staff. The question is does this scene happen BEFORE or AFTER the events of the movie?
2 | Is Joker part of the DC Extended Universe – DCEU?
Initially we had been informed that ultimately, Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, would be a completely independent film, without sequels, and not belonging to any huge saga in the best style of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And it is clear that, in short, this film is not within the DC Universe that we have seen so far, a universe that even had its own Joker, played by Jared Leto. However, there is something that is very clear in this movie: it is a prequel to the Batman movie that will star Robert Pattinson.
This movie, in addition to serving as the origin story of the Joker, serves as a magnificent prelude to the new movie The Batman, which has a premiere date in 2021, and as we already know that in Warner they are desperate to quickly relaunch the saga, leaving some characters, such as the Wonder Woman of Gal Gadot and the Aquaman of Jason Momoa, but taking out others like the Superman of Henry Cavill and the Batman of Ben Affleck, it is difficult to imagine any scenario in which Warner does not take advantage of this film as spearhead for such a rebirth.
In conclusion, the answer is, NO, it is not part of the DCEU as we have known it so far, but there is an 85% chance that it is the first film of the New DCEU.
3 | In what year does Joker’s story take place?
The events of Joker take place in 1981, as confirmed by the information of the films, in the theater entrances. In fact, the function of the film from which Thomas, Martha and Bruce Wayne come out is called Zorro, The Gay Blade, a 1981 comedy based on the famous masquerade from Mexican California.
If we are right that Joker is a prequel to The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson, and considering that Bruce Wayne was about 10 years old in 1981, and that Robert Pattinson will be 35 years old in 2021, we could say that The Batman could very well take place in 2006.
This opens up the possibility that Diana may have something to do with Joker at some point … Yes, it is worth dreaming.
4| What is Arthur Fleck’s mental disorder?
According to what can be extracted in clean from what is seen in the film, Arthur certainly has a quite particular and dangerous mixture of conditions, the most obvious being the one that has to do with his uncontrolled attacks of laughter.
Those uncontrolled attacks of laughter are part of a clinical condition called Pseudobulbar Affect . This affectation is a consequence of serious injuries in the brain area, which is consistent with the history of abuse that Arthur was a victim as a child. When the brain is seriously injured, it simply does not find synchrony between emotions and therefore can end not only in strange attacks of laughter, out of place, but also in attacks of crying.
Now, that is not Arthur’s only disease. The symptoms widely described in the film, such as the imaginary relationship he has with Murray Franklin. This condition is one of the most frequent in the catalog of mental illnesses and is Paranoid Schizophrenia.
Arthur’s symptoms all fit with Paranoid Schizophrenia : hallucinations, like those he had with Sophie Dumond; distortion of reality, such as the relationship he dreamed of having with Murray Franklin, father and son; and others as a deterioration in personal care, including failures in food matters.
To finish off, the schizophrenia that Arthur suffers has a symptomatic component that includes a certain type of psychosis , reinforced in his expression that “he did not believe he was real”, and that he has it chained to a successive depression that literally prevents him from being happy, as we see at the beginning of the movie where Arthur literally struggles to know what it means to be happy, stretching his mouth in the form of a smile.
And the missing element in this whole mix, apathy . Arthur has a hard time believing that life has a purpose, but curiously when he begins to kill, it is evident that this might not be so true. After starting to kill Arthur, he realizes that the only thing that makes him happy is to destroy another person and that is the only thing that calms his psychosis.
5 | Is Arthur Fleck the real Joker?
Now, one of the most important questions that this film leaves in the air is there a possibility that Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is the same Joker who years later became the legendary enemy of Batman?, in another universe, or in Another iteration of reality. Let’s analyze.
Is Arthur Fleck, really, just the inspiration for the real Joker?
The theory that states that Fleck is not the real Joker is based on several elements. The theory states that although Arthur Fleck is a clown with mental problems, just like the Joker is, he has neither the age nor the intelligence to become Batman’s nemesis, and also relies on the fact that Fleck is simply a symbol of absolute rebellion against the social injustices that have taken place in Gotham, and that therefore the real Joker will simply take his place years later supported by his legend, all this in addition to the fact that Arthur Fleck does not appear in the comics. But will all this be true? Let’s analyze a little more.
How old is Arthur Fleck?
Although Joaquin Phoenix is 44 years old, and evidently Arthur Fleck does not look as fresh as he should, there is ample evidence that the character is really not as old as he seems. In the first place, Fleck’s deteriorated appearance has more to do with his lousy nutritional status and lack of personal care than with a natural aging process.
Thomas Wayne, has a son of about 10 years old, and considering that according to Penny Fleck was already an important man when she worked for him, it is unrealistic to believe that he is 70 years old, the age he should be if being a man 26-year-old successful, could now have a 44-year-old son.
Most likely, Thomas Wayne is in the range of 45-55 years of age, so even if he was already successful at 25-35 years, and extending the timeline to the maximum, that would make Arthur Fleck really 30 years old.
Having a Joker 20 years older than Batman does not match the image we have of Christian Bale and Heath Ledger being practically contemporary in The Dark Knight , but it is a credible difference in the 1989 Batman version directed by Tim Burton, where in short Jack Nicholson, who played the Joker, was older than Michael Keaton, who played Batman. So for reasons of age, there is no evidence that Arthur Fleck cannot be the legendary enemy for the bat man.
Does Arthur Fleck appear in the comics?
In fact, this is one of the evidences in favor of Arthur Fleck not being the real Joker. Arthur Fleck is never mentioned in the comics, although this really proves absolutely nothing, because one of the most frequent features of Joker is precisely to keep his identity completely irrelevant and hidden. Although the name that has emerged with some regularity as the real name of the villain is Jack Napier. So in conclusion this is circumstantial evidence.
Is Fleck smart enough to become Batman’s nemesis?
Here, in short, those who support this theory have a very good point. If there is an adjective that we cannot qualify Arthur Fleck with it is precisely intelligent, in fact Fleck throughout the film has to prove precisely the opposite, that he is an incredibly unstable guy with a disturbing tendency to make bad decisions. And we saw this for example in the fact that after killing Murray Franklin he could not even escape the building, being captured by the police.
Now, the final scene opens an interesting door for us, and it is the fact that after the events of the film, the mental ballast that Fleck was carrying when trying to fit, simply does not exist anymore and he has understood that the only thing that will lead him to Happiness is murder. The sum of these events, and perhaps the absence of medication, and much more, the support of hundreds or thousands of followers, can make Fleck reach the Joker level without any problem in the future.
So is it or isn’t it the real Joker?
Although there is evidence that Fleck might not be the Joker, this evidence is easily reversible and too circumstantial to be considered real or canon. So, in conclusion, there is insufficient evidence that Arthur Fleck is not the real Joker, although there is a possibility that new evidence may be collected in future films.
6 | Are Batman and Joker brothers?
In Joker, at the beginning of the film there is a revelation that left more than one, literally with an open mouth: When Arthur reads without permission one of the letters that his mother, Penny, sends with alarming regularity to Thomas Wayne, he discovers that in them, he asks anxiously for the favor of doing something for her and for the son they had together, meaning that Arthur is the illegitimate son of Thomas Wayne and consequently, Bruce Wayne’s brother. This would make Batman and the Joker blood brothers, which would be the most interesting twist in any iteration of the story of the bat man.
However, when Arthur decides to find and confront Thomas Wayne, he informs him that Arthur is not really his biological son because 1) Penny Fleck adopted him, and 2) because he never slept with Penny, that is, there is no way that he is Arthur’s biological father.
Arthur then confirms that information when he reads Penny’s psychiatric report, and there appears not only the adoption papers, but there is evidence that Penny is not who he seems to be, having allowed Arthur to be mistreated and abused by one of his boyfriends, after she was fired from Wayne Mansion for being upset.
Now, there are doubts about whether what was really in the psychiatric report and what Thomas Wayne said is absolutely true. If there is something that makes a difference between this film and the rest of the Batman-focused films, it is that Thomas Wayne is not represented as the good philanthropist concerned with the poor of Gotham, but as an elitist who is disgusted by the poor line of the city where he lives, in addition to having some ambition to also dominate political power.
This Thomas Wayne has the resources and is perfectly capable of having an affair with one of his employees, getting her pregnant and then burying the story, fixing the legal narrative. Wayne probably did not have the balls to make Penny abort, but he could, get an adoption record – very rarely approved for a single woman in the 1950s – and then simply state that what he was saying was a product of his imagination, inventing a false disease.
In addition, Penny in adulthood shows no signs of advanced madness. The only thing that would 100% confirm that Wayne is not Arthur’s father would be a DNA test. But if you ask me, it is confirmed at 99.97%, that indeed Arthur is Wayne’s son.
7 | Why Gotham is such a mess in Joker?
Despite being temporarily located in 1981, Joker includes a fairly modern situation in its narrative, and it is related to social injustice as a catalyst of violence on a massive scale.
At the beginning of the film, the situation begins with something quite punctual that is the garbage strike. It can be inferred that the strike began for the same reason every strike begins: wage dissatisfaction orchestrated by a union that wants more benefits.
Here, the lack of action of the local rulers, in the middle of an electoral scenario, causes the crisis to become chronic, the garbage begins to rot in the streets, generating dangerous vectors for human health. People are rightly dissatisfied, because in addition to that, or perhaps as a consequence of that, the city’s economy is collapsing. There is no employment, businesses close, and unable to raise enough money in tax, jobs are closed in the public sector. While unemployment soars, the tension increases.
It is there that the murders of the rich boys in the subway end up aggravating the situation. People believe that the clown did something that everyone expected to happen, that someone finally took their injustice in the city and gave it some balance, people certainly began to feel that something could be done, by exceeding that invisible limit.
Gotham people began to organize in protests, and when Arthur revealed live that he was the murderer and killed Murray Franklin on television, they exploded completely. People decided to take action on their own, without understanding that in the process there would be people who would die in the riots and that the city as such would enter a new stage of decay from which it would not leave in decades.
8 | Why did Arthur Fleck become the Joker? Who is responsible for his tragedy?
How did a guy with a serious mental condition, without any recognizable talent, become a symbol of dissatisfaction represented in his most violent expression? Precisely that is the question that generates the whole thread of Joker, and the timeline that explains it is frankly frightening.
Arthur Fleck, whether it is confirmed that he is the biological son of Penny Fleck and Thomas Wayne or not, began his life under physical and probably emotional abuse by one of his mother’s boyfriends, to the point that his brain functions are irreversible damaged. What followed from there, is not much better.
Penny – as confirmed in Arkham – was held there without having any access to Arthur, so it can be deduced that the young man spent that time in some kind of orphanage or in passing homes, where conditions certainly were not better.
At some point, Penny left Arkham and Arthur had to take care of her. Arthur has serious problems to socialize due to his condition that involves pseudobulbar affect and paranoid schizophrenia, with symptoms associated with psychosis and apathy. However, he had to go out and face his reality, he had to look for a job.
At some point when Arthur began to go out into the world, his condition made it impossible for him to make a living, of what we call normal, and it is very likely that he has shown some kind of violent behavior, since he was held in a psychiatric hospital, where he also was diagnosed and sent home with a treatment.
However, in all this time, Arthur’s eagerness to conform to the norms of society, led him to a state of permanent dissatisfaction where at no time he felt some kind of happiness, controlling his own impulses permanently.
So when the movie starts and that same society in which he desperately tries to fit in, just treats him as a freak that must be trampled on, mistreated and even destroyed, for the sin of being different, the limit that Arthur self imposed him, simply disappears and that’s when the murder happens in the subway. That’s when Arthur first perceives something that gives him happiness and is to destroy people who at some point tried to harm him, to the point of literally dancing with joy.
However, after this, Arthur still felt self-conscious to give free rein to his impulses, but when for the first time, he observes that people seem to validate his actions, he sets himself free of any ties or brakes, or as he says in the movie “he’s tired of pretending it’s not fun to kill”. He ends up convincing that he is doing just what he should do, that is when he cuts off with his real and imaginary emotional ties, with his mother Penny Fleck, and with his idol Murray Franklin, killing them both.
This last act with Franklin, makes him a mass phenomenon, a symbol, a man who could defend himself from a toxic society that only wants to see him destroyed. That recognition ensures loyalty arranged to everything and that is how finally the pathetic being he is at the beginning of the film, becomes a fearsome and dangerous villain. It makes him the Joker.
Finally, it is a toxic society that validates violence as a method of struggle, which is ultimately responsible for creating a monster like The Joker.
9 | What does the final scene in Joker mean?
One of the most frequent doubts regarding Joker is the meaning of the last sequence, which here in El Sabanero X we believe was the original post-credits scene, which they then inserted in the form of an epilogue. Here we will try to decipher it.
The scene goes like this: Joker is facing what appears to be a specialist in mental cases or what could be a police investigator, unlike the beginning of the film, Arthur looks relaxed, and curiously satisfied.
This implies that this sequence occurs AFTER the facts of the film and that somehow, Arthur, after being acclaimed by the crowds in the center of Gotham, was captured and held in a psychiatric hospital, which undoubtedly is no other than Arkham himself.
Now, the fact that Arthur tells the woman that he is thinking of a joke, and that she could not understand it, and then we see him walking in the hall, leaving a series of bloody tracks, does not mean anything other than the joke that Arthur was talking about was none other than the desire to kill her, a wish he finally made.
The best proof that Arthur did kill the woman, in addition to the blood, is that throughout the movie, every time Arthur kills someone, like the men in the subway, then his mother and then Randall, the sequence that follows is one where he dances animatedly. And in that final scene we see that he does exactly the same. So if you had hopes that the sequence was prior to the events of the movie in a kind of flashback , or that everything was part of Arthur’s imagination, you are wrong.
The question that does arise next is how did Arthur get to that psychiatric hospital? Was Jim Gordon involved? Why does Bruce Wayne appear when he talks about the joke he had in mind? Is it more than just a nod to the movie starring Robert Pattinson coming for 2021? What do you guys think?
10 | What is the message of the movie? Is Joker a movie that endorse or promotes violence?
Even before its release, Joker had attracted the attention of a certain group of people on the issue that “it is dangerous to glorify the weaknesses of a white man who becomes a criminal.” Here I am going to be completely honest and without any kind of outrage: everyone has the right to have their opinion, but an opinion that considers that Joker is a film that incites violence is an opinion full of shit, an opinion by some people that love to look like the heroes of the political correctness for doing nothing.
On the contrary, what Joker shows is precisely the consequences that a society has to face when it considers violence as a valid method of solving problems and injustices, that justifies class hatred and that creates false idols viralized by the power of the media and social networks.
Joker is not the first, nor will it be the last one that uses a spooky character to touch high points of our construction as a society. Hannibal Lecter is used to reduce the human being as part of the menu, in a consumer society. And his appearance on screen did not make anyone a cannibal.
Scarface tries to show the consequences of entering the world of illegal business, of emerging from scratch to the top in a world in which the appeal of vice is huge, and no one has been particularly tempted to go out there in the streets to market illegal drugs.
And the most important influence of Joker, Taxi Driver, which is even reinforced by the presence of Robert De Niro on the screen, talks about the need to take justice into his own hands, nobody run out to the streets to destroy mafias of white slave traffic after seeing it.
Each of these films, as well as others by Quentin Tarantino, are not intended to turn anyone into something they are not, nor to encourage them to do something they do not want, they simply show the different causes and consequences that these behaviors have and invite us to reflect on it.
Joker is a perfectly calibrated film that invites us to think not once, but two and three times before using violence, because perhaps in the process of neutralizing or eliminating some serious evil, we end up creating something much, much worse.
If the movie is good or bad, we will discuss that later, on the review of the film. Questions? Annotations? Doubts? Insults? The comments section is open just below this post. See you in another post of Ending Explained, here on El Sabanero X.