Joker has taken the box office by storm. This Todd Phillips-Joaquin Phoenix vehicle as become the best-performing film ever released in October. The movie centers around the character of Arthur Fleck who, after being kicked down by society one too many times, starts donning clown makeup and taking his anger out on pretty much anybody who crosses him.
We now take a look at the other characters in the blockbuster and determine where they lie on the Joker scale of good to evil. Starting with the person who will one day grow up to become his greatest adversary...
10 Bruce Wayne
Bruce Wayne makes a fleeting cameo in Joker but, because the movie is set at a time where his parents are still alive, it means he isn’t Batman just yet. Bruce meets Arthur Fleck when the villain pays a trip to Wayne Manor in the hope of meeting Thomas Wayne, who he’s told is his father. But before Arthur gets a chance to speak to the mayoral candidate, he ends up meeting his son instead.
The young child is polite to his guest, despite Arthur’s disturbing behavior. He puts his fingers in Bruce’s mouth, trying to get him to smile, but the boy is polite enough to put up with it. And in a movie where everybody has a bit of darkness, it’s he who is the shining light.
9 Sophie Dumond
There was much intrigue when it was announced that Zazie Beetz would be in the movie, and that intrigue only increased when the trailer showed Arthur Fleck landing a big kiss on her lips. Some thought she was possibly going to be an accomplice, a kind of Harley Quinn type, but it turns out that’s not the case at all.
Her character, Sophie Dumond, meets Arthur in a elevator early into the movie. He then proceeds to imagine a world where the duo are romantically involved, seeing visions of her being by his ailing mother’s bedside, watching his stand-up comedy and condoning his murder of the three Wall Street Guys. Sophie seems nice enough, even offering Joker help when he breaks into her apartment, but it’s heavily implied she’s killed off.
During the opening stages of the movie it’s revealed that Arthur works as a clown — hence his fondness for the makeup. He’s treated badly by most of his coworkers, with many mocking him for his untoward behavior and scolding him when he brings a gun into a children’s hospital. But the character of David is the exception.
He’s nice to Arthur; so nice, in fact, that he’s spared by Joker, who takes a pair of scissors to colleague Randall's eye and repeatedly slams his head against a wall, killing him. David would rank even closer to the angelic scale of this list if it wasn’t for the fact he doesn’t do enough to interject when the rest of his colleagues treat Arthur so badly.
7 Debra Kane
Before we go on, we’d like to make it clear that Bruce Wayne, Sophie Dumon and David are the only three people who genuinely don’t do anything bad towards Arthur Fleck, either intentionally or otherwise. And the first character with an ounce of badness in them is therapist Debra Kane, who we’re introduced to in one of the first scenes of the blockbuster.
Debra doesn’t listen to Arthur, something he points out. She shows no warmth towards him and is especially ruthless when she reveals that he’ll be unable to receive his medication due to government funding. Her lack of sympathy and empathy is frustrating to watch and paves the way for her client’s descent into madness.
6 Penny Fleck
Penny Fleck is a frail woman, with Frances Conroy’s character often relying on the help of Arthur. She’s nice enough, but still makes cutting remarks towards her son, insisting he isn’t funny enough to fulfill his dreams of being a stand-up comedian.
Yet she may be even worse. It’s officially declared that she suffers from mental health issues and created the whole story of Thomas Wayne being Arthur’s son as a result of delusions of grandeur. While this paints Penny in a sympathetic light, things get darker. When Arthur steals his mother’s file from Arkham, he also learns that Penny did nothing to stop him being abused as a child. But she insists that isn’t true and, ultimately, it’s something we’ll never know for sure.
5 Alfred Pennyworth
Alfred Pennyworth, in just about every version of the character, has come across as a thoroughly likable chap. However, this isn’t the case in Joker, with Thomas Wayne’s butler instead far ruder and aggressive, showing no sympathy when he happily informs Arthur Fleck that his mother was insane and made the whole story of Thomas Wayne being his father up.
Given how sensitive such a subject would be, you almost understand Arthur’s angry reaction when he grabs the butler by his tie and proceeds to throttle him. And Alfred perhaps realized this too, with the butler seemingly never informing the authorities of Fleck’s attempts to kill him at Wayne Manor.
When Arthur gets beaten up by a bunch of children, his coworker Randall seems genuinely sorry. But any thoughts of him being a nice guy quickly fade when he gives Arthur a gun — and later denies doing so, as he allows Arthur to lose his job.
Randall seems sorry about this and pays Arthur a visit to his house later in the movie, but it soon transpires he’s only there to save his own skin, with the authorities sniffing about following the deaths of the three Wall Street guys. Joker realizes this too and kills his old friend in one of the most violent ways possible.
3 Hoyt Vaughn
While Randall is bad, his own boss, Hoyt Vaughn, is arguably even worse. Audiences feel sorry for Arthur Fleck right from the very start when children steal his sign, proceed to batter him with it and give his head a good kicking too.
Hoyt doesn’t believe a single word Arthur says. He accuses Arthur of making the whole thing up and urges him to return the sign, which he doesn’t have, or he’ll lose his job. It’s also the same character who sacks him later in the movie and he’s fortunate to escape from the movie with his life — as far as we know.
2 Murray Franklin
Arthur Fleck initially idolizes talk show host Murray Franklin, often tuning with his mother to watch him. So much does Arthur admire Robert De Niro’s character, he even has a vision of him being on the same stage and Murray both defending him from laughter and proceeding to tell Arthur he wishes he was his son.
But the Murray in real life isn’t as nice as the one in Arthur’s head. Far from it. Murray mocks the downtrodden individual’s attempts at stand-up comedy and, when not satisfied with that alone, invites him onto his show so he can mock him even further. Joker gets the "last laugh," though, ruthlessly murdering him on television to spark rebellious riots across Gotham City.
1 Thomas Wayne
In previous versions of the character, much like Alfred Pennyworth, Thomas Wayne has always come across as nice enough. But in Joker, he’s a horrible individual. He clearly favors the rich, insults Arthur’s mother, punches him in the face and shows no remorse for any of his combative political views and actions.
Seriously, Thomas Wayne doesn’t do a single nice thing throughout the whole movie. And the worst thing is that it’s implied that he is Arthur’s father, despite both himself and the Arkham medical records saying differently. Thomas is killed off at the end of the movie, ironically because of Joker, when he leaves the movie theater with his wife and Bruce in tow, with a random clown mobster gunning him down.