This ‘Joker’ Movie Fan Theory Will Blow Your Mind

What if Joaquin Phoenix isn't the Joker we think he is?

Todd Phillips’ Joker is proving a tough egg to crack in the weeks preceding its release. It makes sense (even when you aren’t factoring in the extent to which the character has become something of a cultural firebrand.) Joker just isn’t the type of comic book movie fans are used to seeing. It’s not only an attempt at a more artistically singular vision of a comic book character but one that is allegedly self-contained and takes place outside of the continuity of the DC Extended Universe.

That hasn’t stopped Joker fan theories from popping up on social media, though. (No superhero movie is complete without them these days.) There’s one in particular that skews a bit closer to plausible than far-fetched based on the marketing material we’ve seen so far, one that theorizes that Joaquin Phoenix’s take on the Joker won’t be the one we know — literally.

Redditor u/Thracius_Augustus posits that the Joker we see in this movie won’t be the Joker we know, but rather his inspiration. They first point out that the Joker we see in the trailers is far too old to be the one who eventually holds his own against Batman in physical combat. This timeline, one in which around the late ‘70s/early ‘80s Joker is in his mid-forties and Bruce Wayne is still a child, just doesn’t seem to line up.

Joker Trailer Bruce Wayne
Is that you, Bruce Wayne?

However, the crux of the theory comes down to tone over timelines or easter eggs. The trailers for Joker make the titular villain out to be, well, not much of a villain so much as a revolutionary. He is, to Thracius_Augustus, a man taking a stand, albeit one that utilizes violent chaos as his weapon of choice. They also point out that the trailers seem to indicate Joker inspiring followers and imitators, and not of the moronic henchmen variety. Joker’s followers are the people of Gotham who seem to identify with the character’s frustrations and appreciate his unique brand of vigilante justice against an establishment that has mistreated them for ages.

The argument made is that in sparking a revolution in Gotham, the real Joker — the one who will eventually come to fight Batman — will find his inspiration years down the line. Phoenix’s Joker isn’t Batman’s greatest enemy. He’s the man who creates him.

It’s an interesting take on the film’s potential direction given what we’ve seen so far. It’s also, unfortunately, one that seems somewhat less than likely to be addressed in the text of the film (though nobody can rule out subtext quite yet). Reviews for Joker are piling in after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival and while they’re relatively polarizing (shocker), they do seem to confirm that Joker is just what it’s been advertised as: a standalone film separate from the continuity of the DCEU.


Joker hits theaters on October 4.

Media via Warner Bros.