Joaquin Phoenix is happy that people don’t agree about Joker’s ending. The controversial origin story continues to bring in record profits at the box office, despite the highly divisive nature of the film and what it all means. Not only is Joker the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, but it's also one of the most profitable comic book movies every made.
The film has been experiencing a whirlwind of reactions since kicking off its festival circuit run back in the summer. An unbelievable amount of hype followed Joker everywhere it went, and by the time the Todd Phillips film was set to be released in theatres, each day seemed to bring some new objection with the film’s content. Now, just over a month into its release, the major controversies seem to have been brushed aside, dissipating rather quickly once it became clear that Joker wasn’t going to be the catalyst for disaster that some insisted it would be. With all of that out of the way, the public is now better suited to focus on the film itself, which has prompted many to argue over exactly what is happening during its rather dark ending. Some say that Joaquin Phoenix’s character isn’t actually the real Joker at all and that his actions will one day inspire someone, somewhere in Gotham to eventually become the Clown Prince of Crime. For others, however, Phoenix simply imagined the entire thing, and the only real aspect of his situation that we see is when he is sitting in a mental institute at the film’s conclusion.
At this point, it seems that the only certainty regarding Joker’s ending is that as time passes, we’ll continue to have even more theories about what took place. And while discussion among the film’s fanbase is an interesting way to gain more insight, it’s particularly interesting to see what the man who actually played Arthur Fleck/Joker has to say about the whole thing. Fortunately, The Los Angeles Times has offered us that opportunity. During a recent interview, Phoenix explained that he’s happy with people not agreeing on the ending and that many viewpoints are possible, ensuring that no single theory is the correct one. Said Phoenix:
"It's been super interesting how people react to the movie and what they see -- and to me, all of those answers are valid. Normally you have to answer those questions. But this really is participatory and interactive. It's up to the audience. That's so rare, especially with a big studio movie, and I don't want to ruin that by saying, 'No, this is what it is.' To me, there are so many different ways to view this character and his experience that I don't think you can come up with a particular meaning. But I don't know, it's just my opinion."
The ambiguous ending was intentional, according to Phillips, who has previously pointed to the fact that the DC comic book version of Joker has never had an exact origin story. The mystery and generally unsettling nature of the character has always been a big part of what makes him such a phenomenon, even today, nearly 80 years after he first appeared in a comic book. By adapting the character to the big screen in a way that is both true to the original comics and completely different from anything fans have seen before, Phillips has added further intrigue to the Joker’s appeal.
Still, not every fan likes an ambiguous ending. Joker is far from the first film to focus on a delusional main character, but the difference between Joker and a film like Fight Club is that the latter film has a strong enough narrative to suitably explain itself to its audience. This theory will likely be instantly dismissed by Joker’s hardcore fanbase, but if Phoenix’s words are to be believed, then every theory is indeed a valid one.
Source: The Los Angeles Times