Joker has divided critics but wowed fans since its release in cinemas. Joaquin Phoenix portrays a man struggling with his mental health and his journey to become The Joker. But some fans are questioning whether Arthur Fleck really is The Joker.
*Warning: Some mild spoilers for Joker
Is Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker the real Joker?
The film is centred on a failing comedy, Arthur fleck, who has a condition meaning he laughs uncontrollable, often in moments where he wishes he didn’t.
This gets him in a great deal of trouble, and makes him feel like an outcast in a cold world which does not take care of people like him.
Various misfortunes – including the loss of his medication from state-funded programmes – bring about the creation of The Joker.
However, according to the director, Todd Phillips, Fleck may not even be the man we really think he is.
In an interview with the LA Times, Phillips said: “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.”
Everyone remembers Michael Caine’s killer line in The Dark Knight: “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
This is how many fans have characterised The Joker: not as a man seeking to wreak political havoc on a city, but a man who just wants to wreak havoc.
So it could make sense that, with Arthur Fleck clearly having an axe to grind, he may be a political anti-hero who inspires acts of madness from a later Joker.
As well as this, Phillips makes reference to the final line in the movie.
In this scene, Fleck is in Arkham State Hospital, and begins laughing hysterically, while being questioned by a psychiatrist.
The psychiatrist enquires about why he is laughing, at which he tells her that his joke is one she will not get.
After this, he walks down the corridor, leaving bloodstained footprints, before he is comically chased by orderlies.
Phillips also spoke a little more about this to the LA Times, where he tried to explain the metamorphosis of The Joker.
He added: “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 favourite laugh.
“But at the end, when he’s in the room at Arkham State Hospital, that’s his only genuine laugh in the movie.”
If this was his only genuine laugh, it has been suggested this final act is perhaps because he knows he has inspired countless criminals everywhere – something she can’t understand.
Or perhaps he has dreamt the entire film, and is in fact telling her that she won’t understand the dreams he has for Gotham?
Either way, there are suggestions he is either the real Joker, or a precursor.
With the box office going so well for the filmmakers, there is talk of a second film, so there is the possibility we will get this question answered in Joker 2.
Joker is in cinemas now