At plain sight, there’s nothing that could connect Joker and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but it turns out that they both had the same plot twist regarding the family background of their main characters. Todd Phillips’ Joker follows Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime after being constantly neglected by society. Joker isn’t based on a specific comic book arc, instead taking the graphic novel The Killing Joke as basis for its premise and building its own origin story for the Clown Prince of Crime.
Perhaps something Joker and Star Wars: The Last Jedi can bond over is controversy, although they had different types of it. Star Wars: The Last Jedi was heavily criticized for not making Rey the daughter of someone significant (with many viewers openly complaining about her not being Luke’s daughter), under-using Snoke, and for Luke’s actions contradicting his previous heroic portrayal. Storywise, these films don’t have much in common, except for the same type of plot twist about the heritage of their leads.
In Joker, Arthur (and the audience) is led to believe that Thomas Wayne is his father after intercepting a letter that his mother, Penny, wrote to Mr. Wayne. Arthur later confronts Thomas, who denies it and tells him his mother is delusional. After a visit to Arkham, where he steals Penny’s case file, Arthur confirms that she is mentally ill, he was adopted, and Penny allowed her abusive boyfriend to harm them both. In a galaxy far, far away, Rey though her parents were somewhat important and left her for a reason, with many fans believing she was Luke’s daughter. However, in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, her parents were revealed to be “nobodies” who sold her for drinking money.
The reaction to these has been very different. The Joker’s real family background hasn’t received criticism of any kind, and it played quite well within the story, adding to Arthur’s inevitable breakdown. Rey’s reveal, on the other hand, was not well received by Star Wars fans, who spent years – even before her formal introduction in Star Wars: The Force Awakens – theorizing on who her parents were. Many were hoping for Luke to be her father, especially after she showed a strong affinity with the force. As result, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the most divisive Star Wars film to date, and some fans hope Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will retcon the reveal of Rey's parents.
The consequences of the reveal of Arthur Fleck’s family background in Joker were felt instantly, as the film is a standalone, unlike The Last Jedi, which is part of a trilogy (and a bigger universe). Rey’s backstory might or might not pay off in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but it certainly doesn’t make Star Wars: The Last Jedi any less of a Star Wars film, as many have argued.