As Joker rises to inspire Gotham City to rebel, a fan theory suggests that Arthur Fleck isn’t the Joker who becomes Batman’s nemesis.
With as many portrayals of the Joker as there have been, it shows just how strong he is. Each iteration feels unique, and Joaquin Phoenix’s version in Joker is no exception. However, despite the movie ending with him going by the name Joker, many fans believe he’s not the real Clown Prince of Crime who becomes Batman’s nemesis, but just the first of his kind.
2019 Joker follows Arthur Fleck, an artist struggling with mental health issues in the corrupt city of Gotham. Arthur is one of the most likable versions of the character, as many people abuse and mock his mental issues, and audiences see the injustice of the town through his eyes. After shooting three young men on a train, Arthur goes live on a talk show and remarks that people only care because of the victims’ wealth and status, and if he was shot , no one would bat an eyelid.
With the people of Gotham already at the tipping point of the state of affairs, Arthur’s show sparks a revolution in the city. As he is arrested, riots and crime run rampant, and people cheer Arthur as his clown makeup becomes a symbol. Amid all the chaos, a young Bruce Wayne leaves the theater with his parents, Thomas and Martha. An unnamed criminal finds them in an alley and kills them both, beginning Batman’s classic origin story.
With Joker’s Revolution indirectly causing the deaths of Thomas and Martha, it brings Batman and Joker’s rivalry closer than ever. However, there are strong arguments to be made as to whether Arthur’s Joker really is the classic rival in years to come, as a lot of things don’t seem to line up. The most obvious and noticeable issue is the age gap, as Bruce Wayne appears to be between eight and ten years old when The Joker is formed. Arthur’s adoption papers reveal that he was 34 at the time, so their age gap is more than 25 years, which is a pretty big difference.
In most Batman adaptations, Bruce leaves Gotham City at age 18 and returns as Batman around age 25. That would make Joker over 50 years old when Bruce returns, which is a bit old for a crime boss causing mayhem. While this iteration of the Joker might be one to sit back and plan, it still feels like he might not be the nemesis he’s known to become. This is why many fans subscribe to the idea that Arthur’s Joker is a symbol, which ends up inspiring a new Joker later on.
It is not uncommon for multiple Jokers to exist. In the 2000 animated film Batman Beyond: The Joker Returns, Robin is kidnapped by Joker, tortured for years and brainwashed to become Joker Jr. Also, the most recent Batman: The Three Jokers the comic features the origin of three different Jokers at once, as several men fall into Ace Chemicals’ vat of acid. And so, it is quite possible that inside Joker, there is more than one Clown Prince.
With Joker taking the more realistic approach in the comics, a follower of Joker could probably be inspired by his symbol and want to continue his message, especially since it ends with Arthur in an asylum. That would leave room for a much younger, more twisted Joker, ready for when Batman makes his grand entrance into Gotham.
But in the end, whatever happens to Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, it’s sadly unknown if a sequel will ever happen. Joker works well as a standalone movie, although there’s clearly more story to tell. But if the cast and crew are to be believed, there is no sequel currently in production.
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