Despite taking place roughly 10 to 15 years before the rise of the Batman, Joker still found a rather, uh, unique way to work the legendary Wayne family into the film.
WARNING: spoilers for Joker will follow.
As we now know, one of the major subplots of Joker featured Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck piecing together that Thomas Wayne might be his father.
While his mother, Penny, showed signs of serious mental illness and famed Wayne family butler Alfred Pennyworth outright dismissed her claims as the ramblings of an insane woman, the film did jusstttt enough at the end to make the audience question the truth, as an apparent love letter from Thomas Wayne himself re-opens the door of doubt.
And according to director Todd Phillips, leaving audiences to decide for themselves is exactly what he intended.
Speaking to Empire Magazine across the pond, Phillips further explained his decisions behind the Thomas Wayne subplot.
“I liked leaving the idea of Arthur being Thomas Wayne’s son ambiguous. Part of the fun is that question being out there. What would that change if Joker is somehow a blood relation to Bruce Wayne? Part of the movie is a search for identity. Arthur’s idea is to fit in and belong somewhere,” Phillips said.
“So this idea of Arthur not knowing who his father is, where he came from, if he was adopted, what the story was, was another element in his search for identity.” [via Empire Magazine]
While I thought Joker was a generally excellent film, I did find its shoehorning of the Wayne family into the plot to be its most frustrating aspect. Having Batman being born out of a Joker-inspired riot is certainly an interesting idea, but, for me, having Bruce Wayne and the Joker as potential half-brothers was just a step too far.
Eric is a New York City-based writer who still isn’t quite sure how he’s allowed to have this much fun for a living and will tell anyone who listens that Gotham City is canonically in New Jersey. Contact him on Twitter @eric_ital or via email email@example.com