Although Joker has no connection to any pre-existing Batman universes, it does feature many references and Easter eggs connected to previous Batman adaptations, including a very subtle one to Batman: The Animated Series. Todd Phillips’ psychological thriller Joker brought a different look at the Clown Prince of Crime, taking inspiration from Alan Moore’s graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, but ultimately building a story of its own, resulting in a dark origin story.
Joker focuses on Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a failed stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime in Gotham City after being constantly neglected by society. The film addresses topics like mental health and the influence and impact the media can have – very much like Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy. Joker features Robert De Niro as Murray Franklin, a talk show host admired by Arthur and who plays a key role in his downfall. Franklin holds no connection to the Batman universe, but his talk show featured a very subtle nod to Batman: The Animated Series.
An eagle-eyed fan on Instagram noticed the reference to the 1992 animated series, which might not be what many are expecting. It’s not a drawing of the Dark Knight in the style of the series, nor is it its theme playing in the background – the reference is in the font of Franklin’s show, Live! with Murray Franklin, which is the same from Batman: The Animated Series. Out of all the references in Joker that have come to light so far, this might be the most subtle one, and there has been no comment from Phillips or anyone involved in the film confirming if this was an intentional nod to the series or if it’s just a happy coincidence.
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Did you know Live With Murray Franklin from @jokermovie uses the have the same font from Batman The Animated Series. Nice one @toddphillips1 🤡 #jokermovie #joker #joaquinphoenix #toddphillips #martinscorsese #robertdeniro #zaziebeetz #clown #batmananimatedseries #batman #kevinconroy #markhamill #robertpattinson #benaffleck #batman #dceu #dccomics #dcuniverse #dcextendeduniverse #gotham #batwoman #rubyrose #releasethesnydercut #justiceleague #warnerbros #shazam #aquaman #wonderwoman #theflash
Batman: The Animated Series was produced by Warner Brothers and aired from 1992 to 1995, with a total of 85 episodes. The series is regarded as one of the best Batman adaptations and one of the greatest animated TV shows of all time, with most critics praising it for its thematic complexity and film noir style. The series saw the debut of Harley Quinn (voiced by Arleen Sorkin), as well as one of the best Joker portrayals thanks to Mark Hamill’s voice work. Batman: The Animated Series was the first approach to the Dark Knight’s universe for many fans, and featured some of his most famous antagonists, such as Two-Face, the Penguin, the Riddler, the Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman.
While some argue that fans are looking too much into Joker, trying to find all types of references to the Batman universe, truth is that Phillips and company did pay attention to even the smallest details, such as a reference to the 1960s Batman series. Whether this nod to Batman: The Animated Series was intentional or not, it’s a fun detail that many viewers surely missed.