Joker’s Arthur Fleck might not be the villain’s final incarnation. As the Clown Prince of Crime’s legacy continues to grow and thrive with every passing year, the character has arguably become the most widely recognizable comic book villain of all time.
Exactly why that is, however, is a difficult answer to pin down. Perhaps it could be attributable to Joker’s disdain for Batman over the years. Both Bruce Wayne and Batman have long been painted as saviors of sorts, imbued with a deep concern for justice and upholding what is right against all forms of evil. Anyone who comes along and challenges that supremacy must be dangerous and they must – to some extent at least – be at least a little bit off. This, in turn makes for an interesting conflict – the stable, heroic citizen versus the maniacal troublemaker. But while Joker may fit this description to a T, his entire reason for existing as a villain in the world of DC Comics has never been simply to cause Batman problems. Who the Joker is, where he comes from and why he’s doing what he does are questions about the Joker that aren’t easily answered, and Todd Phillips’ new film is just one of many Hollywood takes on the character.
While Phillips has maintained that Joker isn’t a typical comic book movie and that he wasn’t going for a standard origin story, a new interview with the L.A. Times has given Joker fans some serious food for thought. Phillips maintains that a variety of possible conclusions can be drawn from the film’s events. Perhaps the most intriguing of the bunch is the suggestion by Phillips that Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck isn’t actually the Joker and that what we are seeing at the end of the film is a troubled man who has only gone on to inspire the real Joker. Said Phillips:
“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.”
There has previously been debate among fans regarding Phoenix’s Joker, with one of the most interesting points being that Arthur Fleck is too old to be the man who goes on to become Batman’s biggest rival. The appearance of Bruce Wayne in Joker sees the eventual caped crusader as an 8-year-old boy, witnessing the murder of his parents. Given that Fleck is an adult in the film (Fleck's age is undetermined, thanks to Phillips’ refusal to commit to such specifics), it’s not plausible to believe that Fleck is the same man who goes on to terrorize Batman when the character eventually manifests years later. Perhaps then, this is exactly what Phillips has wanted all along – a character so difficult to pin down and whose true story is so weighed down by delusions and multiple-choice potentialities that an easy answer is impossible.
In terms of longevity both at the box office and among the film’s fans, Joker’s vague unraveling of the man known as Arthur Fleck is built for multiple viewings. On one hand, however, Phillips’ efforts to keep things vague could be seen by some as a cop out, attributing any of the film’s shortcomings as simply a part of Joker’s mysterious origins. The truth may or may not be out there, but Phillips has given fans something to mull over. As Joker’s popularity continues to grow, there are likely to be a huge number of theories arriving in the days, weeks, months and perhaps years to come.
Source: L.A. Times