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Trivia for Joker

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  • Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy expressed hope that Joker voice actor Mark Hamill could reprise the role in the film while DC Extended Universe Joker actor Jared Leto wanted to reprise the role as well.
  • Frances McDormand turned down the Penny role.
  • This is Zazie Beetz's second comic book movie after Deadpool 2 (2018).
  • Alec Baldwin was in talks to play Thomas Wayne, but dropped out a day after being announced in the role, due to scheduling conflicts.
  • This is Frances Conroy's first live-action DC movie from a Batman villain since Catwoman (2004). She was also a voice actor in All-Star Superman (2011) and Superman: Unbound (2013).
  • The movie is meant to start a new company that will produce stand-alone DC movies.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio and Bill Skarsgård were rumored to play the Joker.
  • Brett Cullen also appears as Congressman Gilley in The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
  • Three of the previous actors who have played the Joker (Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto) are Oscar winners, with Ledger winning for playing The Joker. Joaquin Phoenix has been nominated for an Oscar three times, and in 2020 he won a best performance Oscar for his take on the Joker character.
  • Third iteration of the character appearing to have long hair, following Kevin Michael Richardson's animated version in The Batman (2004) and Heath Ledger's iconic portrayal in The Dark Knight (2008).
  • Early footage shows Arthur walking by a sign for Amusement Mile, Gotham City's version of Coney Island, which features prominently in the original Killing Joke graphic novel. Joker co-creator Bill Finger was partly inspired by a sign for Steeplechase Park in the real Coney Island which featured a grotesque grinning face.
  • This is Bill Camp's second comic book movie in 2019 since he was in The Kitchen (2019).
  • The director, Todd Phillips, revealed on Instagram that shooting had wrapped on 19th of December 2018.
  • The filmmakers cite Alan Moore's comic "The Killing Joke", which tells the Joker's origin and descent into insanity, and the Martin Scorsese films Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980) and The King of Comedy (1982) as an influence on the film.
  • Joaquin Phoenix lost a lot of weight for his role as the Joker. It was so serious that filming could only be done once, with no opportunity for reshoots. Todd Phillips had to rewrite the script during production. According to Zazie Beetz, Phillips would work on the script with the actors in his trailer, then they'd learn their lines while hair and makeup were applied, and they'd shoot it that day.
  • Joaquin Phoenix is the seventh actor to portray Joker on the silver screen. He follows Cesar Romero (Batman (1966)), Jack Nicholson (Batman (1989)), Mark Hamill (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)), Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight (2008)), Jared Leto (Suicide Squad (2016)), and Zach Galifianakis (The Lego Batman Movie (2017)).
  • Joaquin Phoenix's first role in a comic book film. He previously turned down the title role in Doctor Strange (2016) as well as the chance to replace Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/Hulk in The Avengers (2012), because he was unwilling to sign on to the multi-picture deal that Marvel Studios was requiring.
  • The song heard in the teaser trailer is "Smile", composed by Charles Chaplin for his film Modern Times (1936).
  • Sharon Washington's character is named Debra Kane as a tribute to Batman's co-creator Bob Kane.
  • Martin Ballantyne, who portrayed Joker's Henchman in The Dark Knight (2008), expressed a preference to reprise his role for this film.
  • Joaquin Phoenix was good friends with the late Heath Ledger who won an Oscar for his portrayal as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008).
  • This film is the first theatrical live-action Batman spin-off since Suicide Squad (2016).
  • Joaquin Phoenix was considered for the role of Batman in Darren Aronofsky's canceled "Batman: Year One" movie.
  • Dante Pereira-Olson, who played young Bruce Wayne, previously played a young version of Joaquin Phoenix's character Joe in You Were Never Really Here (2017).
  • The filmmakers used the working title 'Romero' while filming to keep the film's production a secret. The name could be homage to Cesar Romero, who also played the character.
  • Robert De Niro previously appeared in Heat (1995) opposite previous Batman actor Val Kilmer. The bank robbery in Heat (1995) was also the inspiration for the opening sequence of The Dark Knight (2008), with William Fichtner appearing in both movies. De Niro also turned down a role in The Departed (2006) that went to Jack Nicholson, who played The Joker in Batman (1989).
  • At 5'10" ft (177 cm), Joaquin Phoenix is the second shortest actor to portray the Joker, next only to Jared Leto at 5'8" ft (173 cm).
  • The first theatrical DC Comics film to be rated R since Watchmen (2009), released ten years earlier.
  • The joke "When I was a little boy and told people I was going to be comedian, everyone laughed at me. Well no one's laughing now" is a paraphrase of the joke written by much loved late British comedian, actor and music hall (vaudeville) performer Bob Monkhouse's "People used to laugh at me when I said I wanted to be a comedian. Well they're not laughing now." Interestingly, Bob Monkhouse famously had hundreds of handwritten books of jokes that he had written over his long career in much the same vein as Arthur's joke book.
  • With Joaquin Phoenix playing the Joker, all the major cast members of Gladiator (2000) have played mentors/origin story characters for all the DC superheroes. Russell Crowe has played Superman's father Jor-El in Man of Steel (2013), Connie Nielsen played Princess Diana 's mother Queen Hippolyta in Wonder Woman (2017) and Djimon Hounsou played Shazam the wizard in Shazam! (2019) and King Ricou in Aquaman (2018). (Oliver Reed died before Gladiator was released, and Richard Harris died two years later, just after originating the role of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies)
  • Co-writer and director Todd Phillips doesn't see Joker as that big of a departure from comedy. "It's different tonally than a lot of my work, but, ultimately, it's storytelling. I was influenced by the movies I grew up on, character studies of the 70s, so I thought why can't you do genre film like that in the comic book world, a deep dive on a character like Joker. I thought with a great actor we could really do something special."
  • Todd Phillips described Joaquin Phoenix's take on Arthur as, "a guy who is searching for identity who mistakenly becomes a symbol. His goal genuinely is to make people laugh and bring joy to the world."
  • An early reference for Todd Phillips and co-screenwriter Scott Silver was the silent film The Man Who Laughs (1928). They felt they had "a lot of freedom because Joker never really had an origins story in the comics. We thought it was really liberating because there really were no rules or boundaries, Scott and I just pushed each other every day to come up with something totally insane."
  • In terms of prep, the first part for Joaquin Phoenix was physical: "You really start to go mad when you start to lose that much weight in that amount of time." He also read about political assassins and would-be assassins, but was careful not to overly define Arthur. "I wanted the freedom to create something that wasn't identifiable. I didn't want a psychologist to be able to identify the kind of person he was," he explained. A key element of finding the character came during rehearsal when Todd Phillips gave Phoenix a journal which acts as a prop in the film. Said Phoenix, "That was really helpful but I wasn't sure how to start. It became a really important part of discovery for me at that time."
  • For the Joker's laugh, Todd Phillips broke down into three types: "the affliction laugh, the one of the guys laugh and the authentic joy laugh", the director described it to Joaquin Phoenix as "something that is almost painful, part of him that's trying to emerge." That was "a really interesting way of looking at this laugh. We all assume what a Joker laugh is. This was new and exciting."
  • Joaquin Phoenix disagreed about gravitating towards tormented characters, stating he had been "interested in the light of Arthur for lack of a better word. It wasn't just the torment, it was the joy, his struggle to find happiness and to feel connected. To have warmth and love. I don't think of a character as tormented." Ultimately, Phoenix said of Arthur/Joker, "He was so many different things to me at different times, the more unpredictable it was the more inspiring."
  • When asked about violence in the R-rated film, Todd Phillips said, "Violence in the movie was always meant to be a slow burn. People assume and think it's going to be a really violent movie; it affects you differently. You could watch something like John Wick 3 and there's a much higher amount of violence. We tried to paint it with as realistic a brush as possible so that when it comes it feels like a punch in the stomach. But it's all a balancing act of tone." And when asked about tone, "I think movies are oftentimes mirrors of society, but never molders. We wrote it in 2017 so inevitably certain themes find their way in." When he continued, "It's not a political film" there was laughter in the press room, and he added "for some I think it depends the lens which you view it through."
  • When asked if Joker meant anything for the DC/Marvel rivalry, Todd Phillips stated: "I'm not about the competition with Marvel and I've not been in the comic book world. When we conceived of this idea, it was a different approach. I don't know the sort of effect it will have with other filmmakers. Comic movies are doing really well. They don't need to change."
  • During a press conference at the Venice International Film Festival, Joaquin Phoenix was asked if he prepared for the role by watching any other takes on the character, and it seems this version does not find its roots in anything that's come before. "For me what the attraction to make this film, this character, was that we were going to approach it in our own way, so for me, I didn't refer to any past iterations of the character." Phoenix said. "It was just something that felt like it was our creation in some ways and I think that's what was really important for me and key to it."
  • The premiere of the film at the Venice Film Festival drew an eight-minute standing ovation.
  • Joaquin Phoenix talked about how his conception of Joker changed during production and what interested him in the character. "Throughout the course of shooting it felt like every day we were discovering new parts of his personality, up until the very last day," said Phoenix. "It was his struggle to find happiness and to feel connected and to feel warmth and love and that's the part of the character I was interested in. He was so many different things to me. Who he was in the first few weeks of shooting was completely different than who he was in the end. He was constantly evolving. I've never had an experience like this. The more unpredictable and looser we left it, the more exciting it was."
  • Speaking about the villain's iconic laugh, Joaquin Phoenix called it "Something that's almost painful. I think for Joker it's a part of him that wants to emerge. I think we all kind of assume what a Joker laugh is and it felt like a new, fresh way of looking at it. I didn't think that I could do it", he added. "I kind of practiced alone but I asked Todd to come over to audition my laugh. I felt like I had to be able to do it on the spot and in front of somebody else. It was really uncomfortable. It took me a long time".
  • Joaquin Phoenix disagreed about gravitating towards tormented characters, stating he had been "interested in the light of Arthur for lack of a better word. It wasn't just the torment, it was the joy, his struggle to find happiness and to feel connected. To have warmth and love. I don't think of a character as tormented." Ultimately, Phoenix said of Arthur/Joker, "He was so many different things to me at different times, the more unpredictable it was the more inspiring."
  • Speaking at the Venice Film Festival where the film premiered, Joaquin Phoenix stated that he wanted his version of the Joker to be extremely complex, so he did extensive research on various personality disorders so that even psychiatrists would not be able to identify what his character was. He also added that even the filmmaker and Phoenix himself were in the process of discovering new aspects of the character and his personality up until the very last day of the shooting.
  • Joaquin Phoenix explained he wanted his spin on the character to be unidentifiable by real-world psychiatrists after noting he didn't consult past portrayals of the Joker, including Heath Ledger's Academy Award-winning performance. "The attraction to make this film and this character was that we were going to approach it in our own way, so, for me, I didn't refer to any past iterations of the character," Phoenix said. "It was just something that felt like it was our creation in some ways, and I think that's what was really important for me and key to it."
  • Venice Film Festival director Alberto Barbera has identified Joker as an early Oscar contender following its premiere screening at the 76th annual event on Saturday. In an interview with Deadline, Barbera discussed Joker's resoundingly positive reception and further stoked awards buzz by endorsing critics' praise for Joaquin Phoenix's apparent Oscar-worthy performance as the Clown Prince of Crime. "They're very good," he said of the film's Academy prospects. "Absolutely, it will be in the running. The film deserves the reception it is getting. It goes beyond the boundaries of the genre. Joaquin Phoenix's performance is outstanding and Todd Phillips did a great job."
  • Joaquin Phoenix based his laugh on "videos of people suffering from pathological laughter." He also sought to portray a character with which audiences could not identify.
  • Joaquin Phoenix had been interested in a low-budget "character study" of a comic book character, and said the film "feels unique; it is its own world in some ways, and maybe [...] It might as well be the thing that scares you the most." Phoenix originally did not think the film should be about the Joker, but couldn't think of another good character, so he abandoned the idea. It wasn't until Todd Phillips started putting together this movie that he became interested again.
  • Robert De Niro said his role in Joker pays homage to his character from The King of Comedy (1982), Rupert Pupkin, who is a comedian obsessed with a talk-show host.
  • Zazie Beetz, a "huge fan" of Joaquin Phoenix, said that it was "an honor" to work with him, and that she learned a lot working with him on set.
  • By September 2017, Warner Bros. was considering casting Leonardo DiCaprio as the Joker, hoping to use his frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese's involvement to lure him, but by February 2018, Joaquin Phoenix was Todd Phillips' top choice for the role. Padraig Cotter of Screen Rant noted that since the film was a standalone story, Phoenix would not have to appear in sequels as he would have in the Marvel offer. Phoenix said when he learned of the film, he became excited because it was the kind of film he was looking to make, describing it as unique and stating it did not feel like a typical "studio movie". However, it took Phoenix some time to commit to the role, as it intimidated him and he said "oftentimes, in these movies, we have these simplified, reductive archetypes, and that allows for the audience to be distant from the character, just like we would do in real life, where it's easy to label somebody as evil, and therefore say, 'Well, I'm not that.'"
  • According to Todd Phillips about writing the script: "It was a yearlong process from when we finished the script just to get the new people on board with this vision, because I pitched it to an entirely different team than made it. There were emails about: 'You realize we sell Joker pajamas at Target.' There were a zillion hurdles, and you just sort of had to navigate those one at a time. At the time, I would curse them in my head every day. But then I have to put it in perspective and go, 'They're pretty bold that they did this.'
  • Todd Phillips and Scott Silver wrote Joker throughout 2017, and the writing process took about a year. According to producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff, it took some time to get approval for the script from Warner Bros., partly because of concerns over the content. Similarly, Phillips commented that there were "a zillion hurdles" during the year-long writing process due to the visibility of the character. Phillips said that while the script's themes may reflect modern society, the film was not intended to be political.
  • Following the disappointing critical and financial performance of Justice League (2017), in January 2018 Walter Hamada replaced Jon Berg as the head of DC-based film production at Warner Bros. Hamada sorted through the various DC films in development, canceling some while advancing work on others; Joker was expected to begin filming in late 2018 with a small budget. By June, Robert De Niro was under consideration for a supporting role in the film. The deal with Joaquin Phoenix was finalized in July 2018, after four months of persuasion from Todd Phillips. Immediately afterwards, Warner Bros. officially green-lit the film, titled it Joker, and gave it an October 4, 2019, release date. Warner Bros. described the film as "an exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale".
  • Principal photography commenced on September 10, 2018 in New York City, under the working title Romero.
  • On September 22 2018, a scene depicting a violent protest took place in Brooklyn, although the station was modified to look like Bedford Park Blvd. In late September 2018, filming of robbery scenes took place at the First Central Savings Bank in Astoria, Queens. According to Zazie Beetz, Todd Phillips rewrote the entire script during production; because Joaquin Phoenix lost so much weight for the film, there would not be an opportunity for reshoots. She recalled: "we would go into Todd's trailer and write the scene for the night and then do it. During hair and makeup we'd memorize those lines and then do them and then we'd reshoot that three weeks later."
  • Production moved to New Jersey afterward. Filming in Jersey City started on September 30 and shut down Newark Avenue, while filming in November (starting on November 9) shut down Kennedy Boulevard. Filming in Newark began on October 13 and lasted until October 16. Shortly before filming in Newark began, SAG-AFTRA received a complaint that extras were locked in subway cars for more than three hours during filming in Brooklyn, a break violation. However, the issue was quickly resolved after a representative visited the set. That month, Dante Pereira-Olson and Douglas Hodge joined the cast. Whigham said towards the end of October the film was in "the middle" of production, adding that it was an "intense" and "incredible" experience. By mid-November, filming had moved back to New York. Filming wrapped on December 3, 2018, with Todd Phillips posting a picture on his Instagram feed later in the month to commemorate the occasion.
  • Todd Phillips confirmed he was in the process of editing Joker in March 2019. At CinemaCon the following month, he stated the film was "still taking shape" and said it was difficult to discuss, as he hoped to maintain secrecy. Phillips also stated that most reports surrounding the film were inaccurate, which he felt was because it is "an origin story about a character that doesn't have a definitive origin". Brian Tyree Henry was also confirmed to have a role in the film. The visual effects were provided by Scanline VFX and Shade VFX and supervised by Matthew Giampa and Bryan Godwin, with Erwin Rivera serving as the overall supervisor.
  • In August 2018, Hildur Guðnadóttir was hired to compose the film's score. Guðnadóttir began writing music after reading the script and met with Todd Phillips, who "had a lot of strong ideas" about how he thought the score should sound. She worked on the Joker score alongside the score for the drama miniseries Chernobyl (2019); Guðnadóttir said switching between the two was challenging because the scores were so different. She won a Grammy, Emmy, and Oscar for her work on both.
  • The film's final budget was $55 million, considered by The Hollywood Reporter "a fraction" of the typical budget for a comic book-based film.
  • Director Todd Phillips had to convince the movie studio to keep the R rating for the movie when they became concerned about some of the footage they saw as being too violent.
  • Todd Phillips won the Venice film festival's prize, the Golden Lion, for Best Film. During his acceptance speech, Phillips thanked "Warner Bros. and DC for stepping out of their comfort zone and taking such a bold swing on me and this movie," according to The Hollywood Reporter. Phillips also thanked Joaquin Phoenix, who joined him on stage. "There is no movie without Joaquin Phoenix. Joaquin is the fiercest and brightest and most open-minded lion I know. Thank you for trusting me with your insane talent," said Phillips.
  • Zazie Beetz was asked by Variety at TIFF about whether or not the movie sympathizes with Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck, a struggling stand-up comedian and clown for hire whose psychological unraveling leads him to become the notorious Batman villain. Beetz doesn't deny that "Joker" has a sympathetic viewpoint, but she argued that it's less towards Arthur/Joker and more towards Arthur's predicament on a broader scale. "It's kind of an empathy toward isolation," Beetz said, "and an empathy towards what is our duty as a society to address people who slip through the cracks in a way. There is a lot of culture of that right now. So is it empathy for that or just an observation on personalities who struggle?"
  • Joaquin Phoenix was cagey during interviews at the Venice Film Festival when asked about siding with Arthur. Phoenix told press that any questions they might have about "Joker" will be left up to the audience to decide. "The great joy of the film for the audience is that they get to decide for themselves [what to think about Arthur's transformation]," Phoenix said. "That's what I was attracted to. In most movies, certainly in genre movies where there is a hero and the villain, the motivations of the character are clear. What I like about this is that I was never certain what was motivating him. I have my own opinion. I think I know what it is for me. But I wouldn't want to impose on anyone who hasn't seen the movie."
  • In September 2019, director and co-writer Todd Phillips said he wants comic book movie fans to know that there is no chance of Joaquin Phoenix's villain and Robert Pattinson's Batman ever crossing over on the big screen. He added that doesn't mean Pattinson won't ever possibly face off against Joker, it just won't be his version.
  • According to Todd Phillips on New York Times, Joaquin Phoenix "lost his composure on the set, sometimes to the bafflement of his co-stars." "In the middle of the scene, he'll just walk away and walk out," Phillips said. "And the poor other actor thinks it's them and it was never them - it was always him, and he just wasn't feeling it." Phoenix might have walked off set, but he always returned after taking a breather. Phillips remembered Phoenix reassuring him after an especially tense moment, "We'll take a walk and we'll come back and we'll do it." One person Phoenix never walked out on was Robert De Niro, De Niro told The Times that Phoenix was a "consummate professional" when they were on set together. "Joaquin was very intense in what he was doing, as it should be, as he should be," De Niro said. "There's nothing to talk about, personally, on the side, 'Let's have coffee.' Let's just do the stuff."
  • Although this is Robert De Niro's first comic book movie, he was considered for the role of The Riddler in Batman Forever (1995).
  • This version of Joker exists separately from DCEU movies like Wonder Woman (2017), Aquaman (2018), and Justice League (2017)--a fact Justice League (2017) has been clear about. But at the Toronto International Film Festival recently, the director also insisted that Joaquin Phoenix's Joker and the upcoming new iteration of Batman played by Robert Pattinson in The Batman (2021) will not collide. "I don't see [Joker] connecting to anything in the future," Phillips said. "This is just a movie."
  • Joaquin Phoenix walked out of an interview when asked to respond to concerns about onscreen violence in his new film, "Joker," which tells the origin story of the DC comic book villain. For an article, Telegraph film critic Robbie Collin sat down with the actor and asked whether he worries the new film "might perversely end up inspiring exactly the kind of people it's about, with potentially tragic results." Phoenix balked at the question. "Why? Why would you ... ? No, no," he stammered before abruptly getting up and leaving the room. An hour later, after negotiating with a Warner Bros agent, Phoenix returned to finish the interview, explaining that he panicked because he hadn't yet considered the question. Throughout the rest of the article, Phoenix does not provide an answer.
  • In a recent interview with SFX magazine, Joaquin Phoenix acknowledged that while the violence in "Joker" is "a little more visceral and raw" than films such as the Avengers series, he "didn't have any hesitation about it." "You always want it to feel real, and you want the little violence that we have to have an impact," he said. "What happens in a lot of movies is that you get numb to it, you're killing 40,000 people, you don't feel it. While being a fictional story in a fictional world, you always want it to feel real. Everything that happens in this movie as far as violence goes, you feel it."
  • In an interview, Joaquin Phoenix discussed Batman and whether or not his version of the Joker would be enthused to meet him. "I hadn't thought about that. I feel under pressure. I want to give you a great answer, something that's fun. You have a lot of energy, you seem excited, I want to reciprocate that. But I don't know what his reaction will be. I imagine that he would feel a surge of excitement."
  • Joaquin Phoenix called perfecting the Joker's laugh the toughest part of playing the character.
  • Joaquin Phoenix was in Parenthood (1989) thirty years earlier alongside Dianne Wiest, who was in the movie The Lost Boys (1987) directed by Joel Schumacher, who also directed Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997).
  • The second DC movie featuring the Joker to be R rated after Batman: The Killing Joke (2016).
  • The teaser trailer uses a cover of "Smile", Charles Chaplin's original composition from Modern Times (1936). Arthur Fleck is thrown out of a cinema that's advertising a showing of that very film.
  • Wall markings of the Amusement Mile, Gotham City's old amusement park in the comics, can be seen in the first set stills. As well as graffiti referencing the Mad Hatter.
  • Warner Brothers were initially hesitant in making this film as it was thought to be too dark and violent. They were concerned that it may tarnish Joker for kids who annually buy millions of toys and related merchandise. However, a year later and after some convincing from Todd Phillips, they finally agreed to go ahead with this project. A violent R rated DC comic book film adaptation is nothing new to Warner Brothers who spent a considerable amount on V for Vendetta (2005) and Watchmen (2009) with the latter costing more than $130m, more than double that of the Joker.
  • The story takes places in 1981, which is the same year Robert De Niro won an Academy Award for his role as Jake La Motta in Raging Bull (1980).
  • Joaquin Phoenix revealed that Ray Bolger heavily influenced the Joker's quirky dance moves in the movie. "There was a particular song called 'The Old Soft Shoe' that he performed and I saw a video of it and there's this odd arrogance almost to his movements and, really, I completely just stole it from him," the star explains. "He does this thing of turning his chin up. This choreographer, Michael Arnold, showed me that and tons of videos and I zeroed in on that one. 'That was Joker, right?' There's an arrogance to him, really. That was probably the greatest influence. But also disco."
  • Joaquin Phoenix said about the 52 lb weight loss: "Once you reach the target weight, everything changes. Like so much of what's difficult is waking up every day and being obsessed over like 0.3 pounds. Right? And you really develop like a disorder. I mean, it's wild. But I think the interesting thing for me is what I had expected and anticipated with the weight loss was these feelings of dissatisfaction, hunger, a certain kind of vulnerability and a weakness. But what I didn't anticipate was this feeling of kind of fluidity that I felt physically. I felt like I could move my body in ways that I hadn't been able to before. And I think that really lent itself to some of the physical movement that started to emerge as an important part of the character."
  • In India, the film was released early on October 2nd, International Day of Non-Violence, making it ironic, because it was labelled "too violent and disturbing". This public holiday in India is Mahatama Gandhi's birthday anniversary on 2nd October. Highly anticipated movies are often released on public holidays to get a good opening.
  • The actor named Ethan Chase, who guests on the Murray Franklin show, is a reference to Zach Galifianakis' character in Todd Phillips' film Due Date (2010).
  • Fans believed that Joaquin Phoenix was, in fact, following extreme medical advice and eating just an apple a day in order to keep losing the weight, but he says that's not true. "It wasn't an apple a day," he said. "No, you've also got lettuce and steamed green beans." Such a vast reduction in his daily calorie intake meant that Phoenix was able to drop 28kg, all the while resisting temptation in the form of Joker director Todd Phillips. "Todd did have these fucking pretzels that I love," he said. "And he'd just have bags of them in his office! And that was difficult."
  • A group of extras reported that they were locked in a subway car for hours against union rules, and all their attempts to bring this up were ignored until some of them even had to urinate on the train. SAG stepped in upon hearing about the situation to closely monitor the production.
  • While the film draws many parallels to Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976), the most blatant outside of the Robert De Niro casting is the iconic gun to the head hand gesture. This gesture is one of the most famous images to come from De Niro's Travis Bickle character, and is conducted in this film on various occasions by both Joaquin Phoenix and Zazie Beetz's characters.
  • Arthur Fleck performs stand up at 'Pogo's Comedy Club' in Gotham. Pogo the Clown was the stage name of real life professional clown and serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
  • Zazie Beetz also stars in Lucy in the Sky (2019), released the same day as this film.
  • The DC comics logo does not appear in this film until after the end credits.
  • Director Todd Phillips was born in 1970 in New York City and wanted to invoke the feel and look of his childhood memories of the city when making this film. Although the film is set in the fictional Gotham City, there are many parallels between Gotham and NY in this film. Unemployment, crime and even the subway vigilante shootings by Bernhard Goetz in 1984 were all a direct influence on the story in this film. New York set films that were an influence on the visual style and aesthetic of this film include The French Connection (1971), Death Wish (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), The Warriors (1979) and The King of Comedy (1982). Robert De Niro, who plays the role of Murray Franklin in this film was the star of Taxi Driver (1976) and The King of Comedy (1982).
  • Originally Warner Brothers wanted Martin Scorsese to make this film with Leonardo DiCaprio as Arthur and Robert De Niro to play Murray Franklin. However in the end this proved to be logistically impossible as DiCaprio had already signed on to do Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019) for Quentin Tarantino which was due to start filming at the same time. Scorsese had also committed himself to another project, The Irishman (2019), which also starred De Niro. However De Niro himself had just finished filming his scenes for that film by the time Joker went into production so was able to commit himself to doing this film too.
  • Although he is not referred to by name anywhere in the films dialogue (except being present in th English subtitles), the Englishman who confronts Arthur at the gates of Wayne Manor is Alfred Pennyworth, the trusted Butler and confidante of Bruce Wayne.
  • There's a pharmacy in the movie named Helms Pharmacy. Ed Helms starred as the character Stu in the The Hangover (2009) trilogy, which was also directed by Todd Phillips.
  • The two films showing at the theater the Wayne family is shown exiting near the end are Blow Out (1981) and Zorro: The Gay Blade (1981). Both are real movies that were released on back-to-back weekends in July 1981. Zorro, of course, is traditionally the movie that the Wayne family is supposed to have seen on the fateful night of Batman's origin story.
  • Joaquin Phoenix said he took the role of the Joker "because I wasn't sure how I felt about him. When I have all the answers, I get bored. This one really kept me guessing."
  • Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro had a clash during the earliest stage of filming. De Niro follows traditional rite of script read-through, a process that Phoenix dislikes. De Niro insisted that they did, and Phoenix half-heartedly accepted, mumbling through the entire read-through. They reportedly settled their differences immediately, but on set they hardly ever spoke to each other outside of filming. They maintained that their disagreement are strictly professional, however, and Phoenix went on to say that De Niro is his favorite actor.
  • According to a report from Hollywood Reporter Jared Leto, who played the Joker in Suicide Squad (2016) to mixed reception, was allegedly very alienated and upset by Joaquin Phoenix being the Joker and not him.
  • Murray Franklin and his show appear to be an amalgam, of Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin, along with the talk shows they hosted.. The surname Franklin was likely an homage to Joe Franklin, who hosted a legendary, self-titled local late-night talk show which aired for decades in New York City.
  • The All News Radio Station and story format Arthur listens to at the beginning of the film was based on those of New York City Radio Station WINS.
  • At a point of the movie Arthur Fleck says "I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it's a comedy." It's a paraphrasing of Charles Chaplin's quote who once said: "Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot." Chaplin also makes an appearance in a viewing of 'Modern Times' for the elite of Gotham City whilst the city is blazing outside by riots.
  • At one point in the film, Joker looks out of a cop car and the camera focuses on his face while there is a bokeh present in the background. This is an homage to a similar shot in The Dark Knight (2008).
  • Arthur fires the gun and writes left-handed, but Joaquin Phoenix is right-handed. Actually, Arthur Fleck writes right-handed for his general journal entries, but his mental breaks switch him to writing left-handed temporarily.
  • The address of the Joker's stairs is 1165 Shakespeare Ave, The Bronx, NY 10452, USA. After the theatrical release of the movie, the stairs turned into a tourist attraction.
  • In the scene where Arthur is in the audience of a comedy club, the performing comedian is Gary Gulman, who is a stand-up comic. The bit he performs about role-playing with his girlfriend can be heard on Gulman's 2012 album "No Can Defend."
  • This is the second time Frances Conroy plays a mother who has a son obsessed with a TV personality: the first was in How I Met Your Mother (2005), where she plays Barney Stinson's mother, who is, in turn, obsessed with Bob Barker of contest-show The Price Is Right (1972); the second is in "Joker", where her son Arthur is obsessed with Murray Franklin.
  • While director Todd Phillips implies there are no major Easter eggs in the film, one particular major Easter egg can be found when Arthur is getting his make up done. When getting ready, the mirror in front of Arthur has two eyes shaped with a cowl like reflection staring right back at him if one looks closely. This can be easily be traced into Batman who will be his biggest obsession and his arch-enemy after his Joker persona is completed. For an interview in 2001 in terms of writing The Killing Joke, the graphic novel which was a major inspiration for Phillips in writing Joker, writer Alan Moore said Batman and the Joker are mirror images of each other.
  • Bryan Callen has acted in 4 movies directed by Todd Phillips. Old School (2003), The Hangover (2009), The Hangover Part II (2011), and Joker (2019).
  • In an interview in Vanity Fair, leading neurocriminologist Adrian Raine said he was stunned by how authentically the film depicted the psychology of the criminal mind. "For 42 years, I've studied the cause of crime and violence. And while watching this film, I thought - WOW, what a revelation this was. It is a great educational tool about the making of the murderer," he said. In the article, Raine went on to diagnose the character of Arthur Fleck with schizotypal personality disorder. "Those who suffer from it have bizarre beliefs, odd behavior, odd appearance, odd speech, no close friends other than family members, and emotional-affect issues - either being completely shut down or way over the top," Raine said. He now uses the film as part of a course he teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Before filming, director Todd Phillips said that Joker's laughter should be almost painful. Joaquin Phoenix practiced many different kinds of laughter and "played" them for the director at his own request. The end result is a catchy as well as disturbing laugh.
  • There are at least 3 different types of "laughter", the joker: the "frail" laughter, the "one of the types" laughter and the "authentic joy" laughter at the end This is supposed to show a development, from the "normal" citizen to the insane criminal already known from the Batman films. At the same time, the development of the Joker should also be understandable in a certain sense.
  • The role of Arthur Fleck, aka Joker, was realized taking into account the acting characteristics of Joaquin Phoenix. Phoenix received the script at the end of 2017. Even his mother had a say in deciding whether to join the big project or not. In retrospect, the decision was the right one for the role.
  • Joaquin Phoenix said he did not refer to earlier interpretations of The Joker in developing his role. He wanted to create something of his own. He explained his decision at the Venice Film Festival press conference: "It was just something that felt like our creation, and that was really important to me."
  • Arthur's clown make-up was intentionally "antique" - his lips were made reddish brown to resemble blood. Nicki Ledermann, head of make-up, says, "Even his wry smile is a metaphor for not everything being perfect. Maybe it's funny - maybe it's not that." Here should be deliberately left room for your own thoughts.
  • The script was often changed just before filming began, and the actors had to adjust the dialogue of their characters and even improvise According to film director Todd Phillips, Zazie Beetz's character, Sophie, was always well planned when it came to writing or actually shooting. He complimented Beetz and said she was fantastic and "never been enthusiastic about this kind of improvisation, but she was passionate about the changes, she helped with the dialogue for her character and it was a wonderful collaboration."
  • The "super-rats" segment on Murray Franklin's show and in the news references Ratcatcher, an obscure D-list villain who could mind control rats. The character is set to appear in James Gunn's The Suicide Squad (2021).
  • Arthur takes a moment to enjoy a Charles Chaplin film. The Joker, in most continuities, is a fan of classic comedians, with Chaplin being one of his favorites.
  • Arthur uses a .38 Pre-Model 36 version of the Smith & Wesson Chief Special throughout the film. The same kind of gun was briefly used by Caesar Romero's Joker in season 2 of the 1966 series.
  • Joaquin Phoenix is the third live-action Joker, whose name starts with a "J", after Jack Nicholson and Jared Leto.
  • Taking a page from Sergio Leone, writer-director Todd Phillips asked composer Hildur Guðnadóttir to write the score before filming, something unusual. This was in order to use the music to set the mood on set while shooting the scenes.
  • In Beirut, Lebanon on Thursday, October 17, austerity measures were issued which outraged the citizens who demand that the government take responsibility for the country's ongoing financial crisis and corruption. This sparked massive protests. Inspired by this film and its main character, some demonstrators painted their faces in the same manner as Arthur Fleck's Joker make-up. It was even said that the film became a symbol of protest.
  • Since the film's release, fans had ventured to New York City to visit the site, where the now-iconic scene of Arthur Fleck/Joker dancing on the flight of stairs was filmed. It is located at West 167th Street, which connects Shakespearan and Anderson Avenues.
  • The film was released 30 years after Batman (1989), the second major theatrical film based on the Batman franchise after Batman (1966). All three movies prominently feature the Joker.
  • Since the film's release, the character of Arthur Fleck/Joker became a symbol of protest in countries such as Lebanon, Chile, Iraq, and China for government corruption protests.
  • Joaquin Phoenix was Darren Aronofsky's choice to play Bruce Wayne/Batman in the Batman film he attempted to make in the early 2000s.
  • Todd Phillips said in interview that first cut of the film was 155 minutes long, and how there were multiple different cuts of it. There are several promotional stills which show deleted scenes, and there are some more which are glimpsed in all the trailers.
  • Joaquin Phoenix's Joker makeup took 15 to 20 minutes to apply. A discarded version of the scene where Arthur does his bathroom dance had him washing off his makeup before leaving. There were approximately 16 takes of the scene, and makeup artist Nicki Ledermann had to reapply it each time in order to keep it consistent.
  • The film's $96 million opening weekend has beaten It Chapter Two (2019)'s $92 million weekend debut for the best opening weekend for an R rated movie in 2019. Both films are also distributed by Warner Brothers.
  • A page in Arthur's journal, shows a drawing of a cat/woman hybrid using a ball of yarn as a whip a reference to Selina Kyle aka Catwoman.
  • This film marks the second time that the character of The Joker has another name besides "The Joker" moniker. In Batman (1989), The Joker's real name is Jack Napier. In this film, The Joker's real name is Arthur Fleck. This shows that the character has many possible identities due to his mysterious past from the comics.
  • Todd Phillips originally wanted to shoot the film on 70 mm film cameras partially because he prefers film stock. But Phillips had to abandon the idea due to the tight production budget. He ruled out standard RED digital cameras and 35mm film cameras, too, due to the number of close up shots planned, and to give the film an 'intimate', obtrusive feel. Phillips insistence on using large format cameras led cinematographer Lawrence Sher to investigate using Arri Alexa 65 digital cameras as a compromise and in the end, this is what was eventually used.
  • In the German version of the movie, all of Arthur's diary entries and his card explaining his illness are in German. This is rather unusual for a live-action film since it required producing extra props, and subsequently shooting them.
  • The first R rated movie in history to make $1 billion worldwide.
  • Joaquin Phoenix originally only signed on to do this one standalone film, as he did not want to be involved in a movie franchise. However such has the critical feedback it's popularity with audiences been, he has subsequently said (as of November 2019) he is not averse to the idea of considering doing a second film providing he is not expected to join the DCEU and any sequel has a similar feel and look like the first film.
  • After the film had reached $1 billion worldwide, director Todd Phillips thanked the fans for supporting the film on his Instagram account. Phillips created a 20-second video of various clips from the film with quotes from fans on Twitter in the style of a movie ad with quotes from critics.
  • The film's US release date happened to coincide with World Smile Day (October 4, 2019).
  • By the sixth week of its release, the film's $1.018 billion worldwide box office earnings had beaten The Dark Knight (2008)'s $1.008 billion worldwide box office record. However, this is not adjusting for inflation.
  • The film stayed on the top of the U.K.'s box office for 6 consecutive weeks which became the first film since Avatar (2009) to do so.
  • Director Todd Phillips stands to earn up to one hundred million dollars from this film due to his participation deal as the movie has, as of November 2019, reached a worldwide box office of over one billion dollars.
  • Director Trademark: [popular songs from whatever era that movie takes place in being played throughout] The film has several scenes of songs from the 1970s and early 1980s being played which showcases the era of the film, as in The Hangover (2009) and The Hangover Part II (2011).
  • While being honored for his acting career and for this film at a film ceremony, Joaquin Phoenix stated in his speech that he owes his career to his late brother and fellow actor, River Phoenix. He stated that his brother came home one day from work with a copy of the film, Raging Bull (1980), which starred Robert De Niro, who will eventually become his future co-star in this film. Joaquin goes on to state that he was in his teens at the time and he had quit acting. River had him watch the film that evening and the next day. He stated that River encouraged him to not give up on acting.
  • Actress Jessica Chastain praised the film and Joaquin Phoenix's performance. Chastain was agreeing with Vincent D'Onofrio on Twitter when D'Onofrio championed Phoenix for major award recognition. He tweeted, "This young man deserves recognition for this performance." She tweeted back, "I agree. It's one of the greatest pieces of acting that I've ever seen. Mouth was dropped open in the theatre as it played. It left me shook."
  • Sharp-eyed New York City lovers will recognize the Brooklyn Army Terminal's annex at Arkham State Hospital. The hospital is a recurring touchpoint for Arthur Fleck. Early conversations with his state-provided social worker indicate that he spent time in Arkham State Hospital for undisclosed misdeeds before the film began, and his mother's records there indicate that both members of the Fleck family have drifted in and out of the grim state-run facility.
  • Jackson C. Frank's soulful folk song, "My Name is Carnival", features in the soundtrack and is discussed in dialogue.
  • Arthur's final Joker getup (slightly curly green hair, pointy smile makeup, green shirt collar and maroon suit) owes more to the Cesar Romero version than the usual bright-purple-and-orange comic book ensemble. Whether this is intentional or just outdoor lighting making red seem colder is unclear.
  • The theater marquee behind Arthur while he's spinning a sign displays the fictional movie "Strip Search". The logo used is an homage to the 1973 film "Fleshpot on 42nd Street", which uses the same bowtie design on its posters.
  • As the first R rated movie to earn $1 billion worldwide, the film peaked on the 44th spot on the list of films that made $1 billion or more worldwide. After a few weeks, the film rose to 35th spot. In early 2020, the film had since rose up to the 31st spot.
  • By its ninth week, the film had surpassed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) domestically with $330.6 million. The latter film ultimately earned $330.3 million domestically.
  • Joaquin Phoenix previously starred alongside Michael Caine in the film, Quills (2000). Both actors ended up playing Batman-related characters. Before Phoenix went on to portray Arthur Fleck/Joker in this film, Caine portrayed Alfred Pennyworth in Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
  • This is the third film that has made over $1 billion worldwide without being released in China. The first two films are Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) and The Dark Knight (2008), respectively.
  • Due to the surprisingly huge success of the film, Warner Brothers vowed that they're going to make more R rated comic book films and take more risks.
  • This film is Warner Brothers' seventh film that has crossed over $1 billion worldwide. The other films are Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) with $1.34 billion, Aquaman (2018) with $1.148 billion, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) with $1.12 billion, The Dark Knight Rises (2012) with $1.08 billion, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) with $1.01 billion, and The Dark Knight (2008) with $1 billion, respectively. Though, the film is the first R rated film on the list and ever in history to achieve this.
  • One of three movies that were released theatrically in 2019 in which (despite the movies not being musicals) characters sing a song from a Stephen Sondheim musical. In Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story, the character played by Adam Driver sings "Being Alive", and the character played by Scarlett Johansson sings "You Could Drive a Person Crazy," both from Sondheim's 1970 musical Company. In Knives Out (2019), the character played by Daniel Craig sings part of "Losing My Mind" from Sondheim's 1971 musical "Follies." In Joker (2019), the bullies who attack Arthur (Joaquin Phoenix) in the subway sing "Send in The Clowns" from "A Little Night Music".
  • Weeks after the film made over $1 billion worldwide, the film was rated the best movie of 2019 by IMDb.
  • The parallels between this and The King of Comedy (1982) are not only close, but ironic. In that film, Jerry Lewis - who was not well-suited for the role of an ersatz Johnny Carson - played the host and De Niro the decidedly unfunny comedian guest, Rupert Pupkin. In Joker, De Niro - who is far less engaging and compelling than Lewis was - played the host but his forced attempts at comedy were very much like those of Pupkin.
  • In one of the film's television segments of Murray Franklin's talk show, he introduces a guest named Ethan Chase. This is a direct reference to Todd Phillips's earlier film, Due Date (2010), in which Zach Galifianakis stars as an aspiring actor by the same name. Ironically, Galifianakis had previously voiced Joker in The Lego Batman Movie.
  • Thomas Wayne's statement regarding the subway shootings, "What kind of coward does something like that? A man who hides behind a mask?" is a thinly veiled allusion to the fact that his son will one day wear a mask as Batman.
  • While Warner Bros. gave Christopher Nolan full backing for his version of Joker in The Dark Knight (2008), Todd Phillips had a much different experience making this film. As Phillips recently revealed during an interview with filmmaker Michael Moore, Warner Bros.' former boss was a major hurdle: "When the regime changed on the Warner side, the regime also changed on the DC side," Phillips told Moore. "They put a guy in charge at DC, Walter Hamada, who had been running a small horror label at New Line. So he didn't have muscle to stop it, and I'm not saying he would have, but he didn't get it. And because On paper, it's crazy. [He] just stepped into this new job, and 'we just made Shazam! and Wonder Woman. We're doing okay; do we really want to mess with the formula?' And so I really understood his point. But in some ways, I had enough weight behind me at that point - not overrule it, because they could have easily said no...but we just kept our foot on the gas, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease as you say. We just made a thing of it for a long time. Truth be told, the budget was so small - and I say so small in relation to other comic book films, not small. We ultimately made the movie for $60 million, but at Warner Bros. or at DC, that's like an independent film to them. So we kept it so under the radar and so small that in some way, it felt like...not a can't-lose, but like, 'okay what could we really lose on this if it's a disaster and nobody wants to see it if it's boring?' So they let us go and do it."
  • Jared Leto was alienated and upset when hearing a new Joker movie was being made without him. He tried to cancel the movie, telling his agents you have to stop this.
  • The film has become the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, unadjusted for inflation, having overtaken Deadpool 2 (2018) (which grossed $785 million) within its first month of release and grossing over $1 billion (which, to reiterate, makes it the first R-rated movie in history to do so). It also overtook the unadjusted global gross of The Dark Knight (2008), which had the most successful modern live-action incarnation of the character up to this point. Due to these high returns and its modest budget, some analysts have suggested that this film may be the most profitable movie based on comic books ever. This is remarkable especially due to the film not only being R-rated but also has never been released in the second-largest movie market in the world, China.
  • Joker veteran Mark Hamill expressed his utmost praise for the film on Instagram. He writes, "The awesome Joaquin Phoenix, Todd Phillips and Scott Silver brilliantly reimagine the character as never seen before! 2 thumbs up from that old-school, comic book version... me."
  • DC Comics chief creative officer Jim Lee praised it as "intense, raw and soulful," and said that it remained true to the character despite deviating from the source material.
  • Director Michael Moore called it a "cinematic masterpiece" and said it was a "danger to society" if people did not see it.
  • Actor Josh Brolin states that he found the film powerful. He says, "To appreciate 'Joker', I believe you have to have either gone through something traumatic in your lifetime (and I believe most of us have) or understand somewhere in your psyche what true compassion is."
  • Directors Ana Lily Amirpour, Kelly Fremon Craig, and Alex Ross Perry are some unexpected fans of the film. Fremon Craig states, "You can feel Todd Phillips' passion for the project all over it, and who else but Joaquin Phoenix could've pulled off the role? That eerie choked laugh. I held my breath the whole runtime."
  • Director Guillermo del Toro states that he's a huge fan of the film.
  • The movie's logotype was custom-made by graphic designer Chad Danieley using a wood type letterpress, then digitized. Usually, designers would create a unique logotype by distressing a regular digital font in Photoshop or Illustrator.
  • The script was going to have the song "Bennie and The Jets" in the movie but for some reason this was changed.
  • A month after the film's release and days after the film officially made over $1 billion worldwide, there was a brief video of Joaquin Phoenix shooting a scene for the film that went viral. The video shows Phoenix, dressed as The Joker, beginning to dance down the stairs which is the now iconic dancing down the stairs scene. The video was filmed by an unknown person who lived in the Bronx.
  • The film had surpassed Venom (2018) ($854 million box office on a $90 million budget), Deadpool (2016) ($783 million box office on a $58 million budget), Batman (1989) ($411 million box office on a $35 million budget), The Mask (1994) ($351 million box office on a $23 million budget) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) ($200 million box office on a $13.5 million budget) as being the most profitable comic book film ever.
  • Martin Scorsese confirmed that, not only has he not seen the finished film, but he has no plans to. This is only in the latest chapter in the journey that launched last year in which Scorsese expressed that he wasn't interested in superhero movies, noting that he doesn't consider them "cinema." As many fans understandably thought it was hypocritical to dismiss all superhero movies while his name was attached to one, it was later confirmed that Warner Bros. merely needed Scorsese's filmmaking crew to pull off production in New York City. "I saw clips of it," Scorsese revealed to The New York Times. "I know it. So it's like, why do I need to? I get it. It's fine."
  • The brand of cigarettes that Arthur smokes is American Spirit.
  • The subway cars that were used for the subway scenes are both from the BMT/IND and the IRT lines. For the riot scene, the train was consisting of R32. For the murders, the subway cars were made up of R33 Mainline subway cars. These R33ML's which were used for filming are part of the New York Transit Museum's "Train Of Many Colors"
  • It took Joaquin Phoenix a bit to find the version of the character he wanted to bring to the screen. That meant plenty of takes, especially early on, attempting to root out the core of the character, and ironically it really came to fruition with one scene that didn't even make it into the final cut of the movie. Phoenix was accepting Variety's Creative Impact in Directing Award during the Palm Springs Film Festival, and during his speech, he revealed what the scene was and how it really changed his take on the character. "He always encouraged me to fail, which I did a lot. A few weeks into shooting I think it became unbearable for him and we were shooting a scene, it was like the fourth take, and I said well that's about...I don't know what else I can do...that was all the ideas I have', and he said 'I think you should try another one'. I said 'okay', so I tried another one and basically just did some more bullshit, and he said 'I think you should try another one', and he wasn't specific because I think he knew that I had to find it on my own, and I just decided to stop all of my actory stuff and just to listen to the other actor and to just be aware of the space that I was in and we did this take and it felt really good, and he came out and said 'that was a good take'. I said 'yeah, it felt good to me'. He said 'what was that', and I said 'sincerity'. And he said 'well you should be sincere more often'" "It was a scene that was ultimately cut out of the movie but it ended up being kind of the most important scene in the movie because it helped me find sincerity," Phoenix said.
  • Joaquin Phoenix unexpectedly shedded a tear during the first take when his character looked in the mirror, and the director Todd Phillips kept it in. Phillips said that he played the film's score for Joaquin Phoenix because he "wanted the music to affect and infect the set in a way." During the first take as the score was playing, Philipps revealed that "as Joaquin is struggling with Arthur's smile, this little tear appears, and we just had the scene and we moved on."
  • Todd Phillips actually believes his movie is about kindness and empathy. The filmmaker recently explained this distinction, saying: "If I had to drill down on one overarching theme for me, it's about the power of kindness and a lot of people miss that. I think if you don't see that you either don't have a soul or you're being reductive to make up for your own struggles in that area. But, really, to me, that's where it started from and there are other things in the movie like lack of love, the lack of empathy in society, and childhood trauma, but the power of kindness really runs through this film."
  • Several moments of Joaquin Phoenix's acceptance speech at the Golden Globes 2020, were censored for illicit language. But now, the full, uncensored version is available to view online, via Twitter user ThouFlowerGirl. Phoenix has spoken out in the past about his distaste for awards shows, famously calling campaigning for awards "total, utter bullsh-t." But despite his long-held anger, Phoenix did appear genuinely grateful to win last night at the Golden Globes. In talking directly to his fellow nominees, Phoenix said in part,"We all know there's no f-cking competition between us...I'm inspired by you, I'm your f-cking student." The praise didn't end there, either. Phoenix also thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for acknowledging a link between animal agriculture and climate change by foregoing a meat option at the Golden Globes. After thanking Joker director Todd Phillips for giving him the role of Arthur Fleck, Phoenix shifted his speech towards the current political climate in saying, "contrary to popular belief, I don't want to rock the boat, but the boat is f-cking rocked." Later on, Phoenix urged his fellow members of Hollywood to take action as opposed to just talking about the problems.
  • According to Phillips, who talks about Phoenix's transformation on the upcoming Blu-ray of Joker (via CinemaBlend,) Phoenix eschewed the help of a professional nutritionist to help guide him through his ultimately 52 pound weight loss and came up with his own plan: a solitary apple per day. More than that, he did it in a frighteningly short amount of time, just a few months. "It was already like June and he hadn't started [losing weight] and we start shooting in September. And he's like, 180 pounds. He wasn't fat but we're talking about getting to 125 pounds," Phillips said. "And he goes 'I got it, I got it.' I go 'You know we can hire a guy. I got this thing, this woman who's a nutritionist, you might wanna...' 'No, no, that's not how I do it.' I go 'How do you do it?' He goes 'I just stop eating and I starve myself.' He just ate an apple a day for the whole summer." An apple of day for roughly three months is certainly not likely to be a doctor-approved and safe way of losing weight, but it's also possible that it's a bit of an exaggeration. Phoenix himself told Access Hollywood last September that his diet included more than just apples and he also insisted that he had worked closely with a medical professional during the process as it's something he's done before. "It wasn't an apple a day. No, you've also got lettuce and steamed green beans," Phoenix said. "It's something I've done before and you work with a doctor regimented and overseen and safe." However Phoenix actually pulled off the major weight loss, it certainly paid off. The actor's overall performance as Arthur Fleck has been one of the most universally praised elements of Joker, one that's seen critical acclaim, earned awards nominations, and has even received high praise from his fellow actors, including American Horror Story star Kathy Bates who recently told Deadline about how she was inspired by it. "Well, recently I saw an incredible performance by Joaquin Phoenix and as the Joker and it was electrifying and I had seen his work over the years but this was just astounding and in fact, I've gone back and watched it again and to see a performance like that inspires me to do better and to see what's possible," Bates said. "To see the kind of intricacy of work and the building of a character slowly over time and I mean this in the best way, the selfishness that it takes to create that kind of performance and it just inspires me not to get better, although that's part of it, but it makes me so happy that there's a performance like that out there that I know when I moved on from this earthly plane that the craft will be in the hands of someone like him and a lot of the younger people that are coming up. It makes me feel that the last 50 years have been worth it."
  • When Joaquin Phoenix won the Best Actor - Drama award at the Golden Globes, one of the fellow nominees was Batman actor Christian Bale.
  • With Joaquin Phoenix's Golden Globe win for Best Actor, Joker became the first and only fictional character to have won more than one award. Heath Ledger previously won it for The Dark Knight (2008) in the Best Supporting Actor category.
  • Director Todd Phillips revealed which real city his Gotham was based on, saying: "Even though we don't really say when and where the movie takes place, in my mind, it was always New York City, 1981, what did that look like and what did that feel like from my memory of it. I was only 11 or 12-years-old, but my memory was kind of what you see in the movie. A very run down, broken down city on every level."
  • When he first becomes the Joker, Arthur wears and orange vest with a blue collard shirt underneath the bright red suit. In The Batman Animated Series, the Joker wore an orange shirt with a cowboy blue bow tie underneath his purple suit.
  • The scene where Arthur is kicking a whole lot of stuff in a fit of rage. It's been said in a tweet that this is the moment Joaquin Phoenix had legitimately dislocated his knee.
  • Ledermann, hair department head Kay Georgiou, and costume designer Mark Bridges learned during an early meeting that Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix had clear ideas for Joker's appearance. "They came to the table with a digital mock-up, but we had more of a discussion about each look rather than sharing a bunch of visual references," Georgiou says.
  • Arthur's hair is described in the script as black, but Kay Georgiou knew that it would be too dark. The stylist instead played with hairpieces to decide on the exact shape and length before reaching for the scissors to cut Joaquin Phoenix's actual hair. She then dyed it in a way that wasn't distracting or wouldn't get lost in the lighting designs by cinematographer Lawrence Sher. "Whatever you do for hair in real life, it always lights darker on film, so we wanted to go with his normal hair but a shade darker," Georgiou says. Completing the style, she added grease and texture to make it look lived in.
  • Costume designer Mark Bridges dressed Arthur in polyester, tying in an era-appropriate color palette. Bridges states, "I imagined if he ever did laundry, everything went into the washer at the same time. We made a kind of bad laundry feel to the clothing. It's those subtle choices you can make for a character that informs the audience who they are and how they live."
  • Arthur's appearance as a classic clown needed a familiar yet unique style to deliver his working look at the beginning of the film, says Ledermann. "But we needed to create simple clown makeup that would not be compared with anyone else," she adds.
  • When Arthur transforms into Joker, his guise is driven by his past. "As Arthur progresses, we made little movements toward darker colors in his wardrobe right before he becomes Joker to echo what goes on emotionally for him in the story," Jim Bridges says. Ultimately Bridges designed the Joker outfit as a 1970s-inspired maroon-colored suit that has a slightly longer line in the jacket while connecting subtleties in his previous life. "His clown waistcoat is his Joker's vest. The clown tie becomes a necktie that he wears. Everything has a motivation, and it all comes out organically," he says.
  • For Joker's iconic green hair, it was production designer Mark Friedberg who suggested what became the final look. "He said it should be a broccoli green," says Kay Georgiou. "Todd was all for it, and then it was a matter of what type of broccoli- organic broccoli, cheaper broccoli, freshly cut, older broccoli; there's a plethora of broccoli greens out there." Georgiou ended up taking several swatches and dying them different colors for Phillips to choose from.
  • Joker's white face is never pure in color and more matte than glossy. Blues and reds are tonally subdued, too. "We didn't want the makeup to reflect in the light so that it could fit with the muted color palette, since nothing is shiny in this movie," says Ledermann. "The colors are a bit antique-y, meaning they're not pure but have some warmth. The blue is a mix of greens and teal. The red is a reddish-brown color that resembles blood. Even his slanted smile is a metaphor that everything is not perfect. Maybe it's funny -- maybe it's not."
  • The 'Joker Stairs' became so popular that they're now a place on Google Maps. Fans even put it into the "religious destination" category.
  • When preparing for the role, Joaquin Phoenix studied the movements of iconic silent film stars like Buster Keaton and Ray Bolger.
  • Although past actors went to dark places in real life to play the role of the Joker, Joaquin Phoenix says he didn't have that experience. He states, "I didn't struggle, it was enjoyable, it was fulfilling."
  • All clocks in the movie show the time as 11:11. Fans went crazy with bible verse theories and such, but when asked about it, director Todd Phillips said "It's a coincidence. No, I mean, I don't know. I think it's a coincidence. "
  • It's highly uncommon for a film score to be written before the film itself is shot. Usually, the score is written when the movie has been mostly cut together so that the composer can craft the sounds that complement the images. But Sergio Leone used to do things very differently. He'd have his composers write the score before shooting, then play the music on the set to create the right mood and give the actors a sense of the feel of the movie. Todd Phillips emulated this technique when he made this film, asking composer Hildur Guðnadóttir to write the score before filming began so that he could play it on the set.
  • Executives started to get a little antsy about the graphic violence in the dailies they were being shown. Having agreed to make Joker with an R rating when Phillips initially pitched his vision for it, the studio considered vetoing the rating and almost forced the director to sanitize the movie midway through production. Phillips had to convince the executives to let him keep making the film with its eventual R rating. Frankly, if Joker was forced to be toned down for a PG-13 rating, while still maintaining the same story, it would've been a complete mess.
  • After 2020 Academy Awards Joaquin Phoenix turns in the second actor to be nominated and winner for an acting Academy Award for playing the Joker after Heath Ledger. This puts him in the rare company of actors nominated for playing the same fictional character: Leslie Howard and Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins (in Pygmalion (1938) and My Fair Lady (1964) respectively); Janet Gaynor and Judy Garland as Vicki Lester (both in different versions of A Star Is Born (1937) and A Star Is Born (1954)); John Wayne and Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn (both in different versions of True Grit (1969) and True Grit (2010)); Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro as Vito Corleone (in The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974)); Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart as Rose DeWitt (in Titanic (1997)). Winslet and Stuart were the only actresses to be nominated for playing the same character in the same film.
  • The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, the most of any film in the 2020 Oscars for the year.
  • The film is the second comic book film to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. The first film is Black Panther (2018). However, it should be noted that it's believed that the Academy changed its Best Picture nominees from 5 to 5-10 in 2009 because The Dark Knight (another comic book film) and Wall-E were snubbed.
  • With her win both at the Golden Globe Awards and at the Academy Awards, Hildur Guðnadóttir became the first solo female composer to win for Best Original Score so a Golden Globe so an Oscar.
  • One review channel on youtube even called the movie a Rorschach test, since many people were seeing what they wanted to see in the themes of the movie, especially about what it says about politics. For example, some see the movie as being pro-social programs, others see the rioters as a critique to Antifa, some as a cautionary tale towards incels, and so on. And then, there are the people debating whether the movie has right-wing or left-wing politics, and even if the movie can fit into (or if it is about) that binary at all.
  • The closest thing the film has to an antagonist (apart from Thomas Wayne) is Murray, who is a late night comedy show host. Late night comedians pretty much make a living off ridiculing and humiliating others, so some people see it as Laser-Guided Karma when a late night comedian gets comeuppance at the hands of the very person they ridiculed. Ironically, at the same time the film was released Todd Phillips himself had made an infamous statement complaining that no one can write good comedy anymore because too many people feel insulted.
  • After the film's success, artist Joe Simko created a Garbage Pail Kid collection card in tribute to Joaquin Phoenix and his character, Arthur Fleck/Joker. The card depicts a Garbage Pail Kid as an Arthur Fleck/Joker caricature falling down on what is now commonly referred to as the Joker stairs in a wacky manner with makeup items scattered around. The card is named, "Walking Joaquin".
  • Bronx residents are not happy about the Joker steps meme, as it caused many random tourists to dance on the steps, take a selfie, and leave, which annoyed the locals. It escalated to the point where the address was briefly named "Joker Stairs" on Google Maps as a religious destination. Many Bronx residents insist that people at least spend some money to support the community if they want to visit the steps. Even Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has condemned the meme. It really didn't help that someone was probably going to get seriously hurt if the meme lasted long enough.
  • Most of the negative reviews dismiss the movie as being a retread of the familiar "abused loner becomes a psychopath" story, drawing specific parallels to Martin Scorsese's previous films such as Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Critical Dissonance: As of opening day, the film has a Rotten Tomatoes critic rating of 69% while the audience rating is 91%. Most of the negative critics criticize the film for being too dark, humanizing a villain like the Joker, being too similar to the movies that "inspired" it, lacking an authentic politics of its own in favor of mere attempts at provocation, and potentially inspiring moviegoers to be more like the Joker. The general audience just seems to think it's a very good film overall. However, it did win the Golden Lion in the 2019 Venice Film Festival, one of the "Big Three" most prestigious film festivals, and it also won two Golden Globes for Best Actor and Best Original Score, which is nothing to scoff at. And then the film was nominated for eleven Oscars, the most for any film based off of a comic.
  • Arthur putting on the full Joker outfit for the first time is scored with "Rock and Roll" by Gary Glitter, a once beloved entertainer who is now known only for his criminal actions.
  • The movie theater where Arthur confronts Thomas Wayne is playing Modern Times. The song "Smile" that is played in both the trailer and movie of Joker was a song written for Modern Times. Also, Modern Times was about the underprivileged Tramp trying to survive The Great Depression which isn't too far off from one of this movie's themes about the struggling poor trying to survive while the rich benefit. Even better, the movie follows a story of a man who suffers a nervous breakdown, loses a job, and accidentally becomes the leader of an angry crowd that just happened to walk in the same direction.
  • Virtually all of the movie's negative press has come from the US, often attributed to the country's particular current socio-political issues, while it has gotten nigh-universal praise from foreign critics -- perhaps exemplified by the Venice Film Festival where it got a standing ovation and won the Leone d'Oro grand prize.
  • The normally burly Joaquin Phoenix lost 52 pounds to play the Joker. 52 just happens to be the Arc Number for various DC Universe stories.
  • Before the film came out, Todd Phillips complained about how woke culture was stifling his brand of comedy. Then the film showed Joker ranting about how humor is subjective and his sadistic jokes should be considered just as funny as any other kind of comedy. It's almost as if he was intended to be an Author Avatar.
  • Clown masks like those of Gotham's rioters and the makeup of this incarnation of the Joker have sort of become the new Guy Fawkes face symbols among a number of demonstrators and rioters throughout the world.
  • Co-writer/director Todd Phillips said that Joaquin Phoenix's lighter side came through behind the scenes between takes. "To inhabit the character of Arthur slash Joker in the movie, he had to go to some dark places," the filmmaker said. "And really on this film - we would say 'Cut!' and we'd be off to the side joking around or laughing about something and then we'd get back into it. He's really intense as an actor, but as a guy on set he's actually kind of light."
  • Todd Phillips spoke of the iconic staircase "We thought it would be a pretty iconic moment for the movie, I didn't know the stairs would turn into sort of New York's version of the Rocky stairs," he said with a laugh.
  • Previous Bruce Wayne/Batman actor Christian Bale underwent a similar dramatic weight loss as Joaquin Phoenix to portray Trevor Resnik in The Machinist (2004).
  • In Arthur's home, there's a painting above the television, of 'The Blue Boy' by Thomas Gainsborough which was also seen in the art museum of Batman (1989).
  • The woman who calls Arthur to book him on the Murray Franklin Show is named Shirley Wood. The talent coordinator for the Tonight Show With Johnny Carson was also named Shirley Wood.
  • The commercial seen on the montage of televisions near the end is for a 1980 Ford Thunderbird. The girl in the commercial is Erin Gray.
  • Arthur's journal used as a prop in the film was written by Joaquin Phoenix kept in character.
  • Joaquin Phoenix becomes the second actor to win an Oscar for playing the Joker, the first being Heath Ledger. He also became the second actor to win an actor for a role that had previously won an Oscar for another actor. The first was, appropriately enough, Robert De Niro for The Godfather: Part II. He was preceded in that role by Marlon Brando, who also won an Oscar for it. Brando also appeared on a DC Comics adaptation: Superman.
  • Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger both won Oscars for playing The Joker. Phoenix won Best Actor for Joker (2019) and Ledger won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for The Dark Knight (2008). This marks the only time that two actors have won Oscars for playing two different versions of the same character. (The two films take place in different universes.) However, Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro won separate Oscars for playing the exact same character. Brando won Best Actor for The Godfather (1972) and De Niro (who co-stars with Phoenix in this film) won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for The Godfather: Part II (1974), both in the role of Vito Corleone.
  • Film composer Hildur Guðnadóttir performed the cello soloist sections herself.
  • When Joaquin Phoenix performed his bathroom dance sequence, it was right after he first heard Hildur Guðnadóttir's score played to him by director Todd Phillips from his iPhone.
  • Joaquin Phoenix's weight loss for the title role has often been exaggerated as 50lbs. As a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (2014) (Oct. 4, 2019), Joaquin confirmed that he actually shed around 15lbs in total. However, Phoenix was actually joking when he said this and the exact number was 52 lbs.
  • The first comic book movie to be nominated for 11 Academy Awards, beating The Dark Knight (2008)'s 8 nominations score. The film ended up winning 2 awards, including Best Actor and Best Score.
  • Renée Zellweger and Joaquin Phoenix are the first actors to win Oscars for portraying the title characters in the same year. Zellweger won Best Actress for Judy (2019), and Phoenix won for this film.
  • The Joker's makeup in this film resembles the makeup worn by Tiny Tim's killer clown in the cult classic Blood Harvest (1987)
  • The film ended its domestic run with a final total gross of $335,451,311.
  • During his Motive Rant towards the end of the film, Arthur blames "a society" for his downfall, echoing the "we live in a society" memes that are associated with the Joker. The line was slightly ad-libbed by Joaquin Phoenix (the line as originally written said "a system"), so it's not clear if he was doing this deliberately.
  • On a medical level. The "Pseudobulbar Affect" is where a patient experiences uncontrolled laughing. It has often been referred to as "Joker Syndrome," since it mimics both the clown and the effect of his poison gas. In this film, Joker has it. Or at least, his mother convinced him that he does. He writes in his journal that the worst part of having a mental illness is being expected to behave as if you don't have one. Then after digging up his and his mother's hospital records, he says that he never had any condition, that the laughter at inappropriate things which his mother told him was a condition is actually just part of him. He then goes on to explain to Murray Franklin the subjectivity of comedy and that he's sick of pretending things aren't funny that he actually does find funny. All of this seems to explicitly point to him not actually having this condition but simply having a strange sense of humor that his mother convinced him was a mental illness.
  • In the opening scene, Arthur sits at a mirror and pulls the sides of his lips down to make an exaggerated frown, then pulls them up to create a huge smile. Both of his faces are an absolutely perfect imitation of the theatrical masks of comedy and tragedy (even down to the tear falling from the right eye), themes that are crucial in Arthur's character.
  • Some clueless parents were taking their kids to see this movie just because it was part of the Batman franchise, unaware that it was rated R. Alamo Drafthouse had to issue a PSA to said parents about not taking their kids to see it, and at least one theater placed signs at the ticket office stating that the movie was a hard "R", listed a content warning, and stated that they'd be strictly carding younger-looking ticket customers.
  • This isn't the first time Thomas Wayne has been portrayed in a less-than-positive light. He was made into an outright villainous figure in Batman: The Telltale Series (2016). Also, in the Tom King's Batman comics, after The Flashpoint storyline in which he became Batman in an alternate universe, where he becomes situated in the Rebirth universe, he becomes a villain and goes against his own son. In the DC Black Label three-issue comic series, "Batman: Damned", he was an adulterer and insensitive toward his wife and son.
  • There's been constant speculation surrounding potential Joker follow-ups ever since the movie hit theaters, and we've now heard that Warner Bros. already have plans for multiple sequels and even have a back-up plan just in case their leading man doesn't want to reprise his Oscar-winning role. According to sources turning Joker into a franchise is a top priority for WB at the moment. Apparently, they're planning multiple sequels and while it's unclear how many more films Phoenix will return for, if he decides to bow out at some point, they'll just lean into the theories that say Arthur isn't the true Clown Prince of Crime and switch the focus to another character, someone Arthur inspired. After all, we've already heard that he wasn't the real Joker and that the true Clown Prince of Crime is still out there and will be introduced in the sequel.
  • The name Murray Franklin is most likely based on the famous Miami nightclub 'Murray Franklin's', which Frank Sinatra frequented.
  • According to a profile by GQ, there was a point of contention between Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro. While Phoenix doesn't like to rehearse or do table readings, it was reportedly a demand by the latter actor. What resulted was a small conflict at the very start of Joker's production. Joaquin Phoenix uses his anxiety to fuel his film performances, which is why rehearsing and read throughs are against his process; he wants total spontaneity. Phoenix's refusal to do a table reading inspired a strong reaction by Robert De Niro, as he reportedly told Todd Phillips: "Tell him he's an actor and he's got to be there. I like to hear the whole movie and we're going to all get in a room and just read it." Meanwhile, Phoenix responded, "There's no f***ing way I'm doing a read-through." In the end, the pair came to compromise and Phoenix attended a read-through at De Niro's production office. Phoenix is reportedly a huge fan of De Niro since Raging Bull (1980), but struggled as he "mumbled" his way through Joker's table read. Phoenix said he felt sick and originally declined De Niro's offer for a private talk in his office. Thankfully, it ended on a positive note after De Niro kissed Phoenix on the cheek and reassured him, "It's going to be OK, bubbeleh."
  • Since the creation of the R rating in 1968, it took 51 years for a film with an R rating such as this film to become the first R rated film in history to earn over $1 billion worldwide. In contrast, since the creation of the PG-13 rating in 1984, it took 14 years for a film with a PG-13 rating such as Titanic (1997) to become the first PG-13 rated film, and any film in general, to earn over $1 billion worldwide.
  • Costing $55 million, it is the least expensive film to gross over $1 billion.
  • The fourth DC Comics film to gross over $1 billion, after The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and Aquaman (2018).
  • The fifth comic book adaptation nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, after Ghost World (2001), American Splendor (2003), A History of Violence (2005), and Logan (2017).

Spoilers

  • Robert De Niro's role as Murray Franklin, the talk-show host who unwittingly gives Arthur Fleck/The Joker his big break, is an ironic role reversal of The King of Comedy (1982), where De Niro played Rupert Pupkin, an unsuccessful, mentally-unstable comedian who stalked and kidnapped his favorite talk-show host, Jerry Langford (played by Jerry Lewis).
  • Joaquin Phoenix revealed an unexpected challenge he faced during filming and rehearsals he revealed: "But a really transformative moment was after the Subway when he's in the bathroom," He elaborated, "That was something that we really hadn't anticipated. We talked about that scene all throughout rehearsal. When I really kind of struggled to find something that I felt really made sense to kind of illustrate the change from Arthur to Joker. There were things like that every day up until the last scene I shot where we did multiple versions of it, It just was the nature of the character. When Todd [Phillips] and I became comfortable with that, it really began to emerge. That was a really unexpected, strange, and unique process for me. But, it was enjoyable," Phoenix concluded.
  • Joaquin Phoenix revealed his favorite part of filming was sassing off Robert De Niro's character Murray Franklin, he stated: "It was one of my favorites, saying 'Murr-AY.' ... Todd loved that too. And when I did that I thought: Is De Niro just going to throw an ash tray at me?"
  • When Arthur lets himself into Sophie's (Zazie Beetz) apartment, he tells her "I've had a bad day". This is a reference to the iconic comic book "The Killing Joke", in which the Joker's theory is everyone is just one bad day from madness.
  • During the film, the seeing of giant rats in Gotham is mentioned. If you pay attention, you can see at least three CGI giant rats running fast through the streets in key scenes, adding a disturbing element to the already dark mood of the movie: when Arthur is talking in the phone booth; when Arthur is chasing the last yuppie outside the subway; when Bruce is crying over his parents' corpses.
  • The ending of the film where the Joker is in Arkham is meant to be ambiguous as the viewer is given to draw a line about what exactly did happen and did not happen throughout the movie because everything is from Arthur's perspective. This is further hinted when he says to the doctor "You wouldn't get it" when he was asked what he finds funny implying that the whole thing was one big joke to him. In an interview, Phoenix said "This movie requires a certain amount of participation from the audience. It's up to you how you want to interpret it and experience it. It's less you being kind of presented with the facts than you being presented with these possibilities."
  • In most of Batman canon, Batman's parents are killed by an average mugger named "Joe Chill". However, in Batman (1989), Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered by a man named Jack Napier who would later become the Joker. In this film, an unidentified man dressed in a Joker mask murders the Waynes during a riot, making it the second film to imply the Joker is linked to the Waynes' deaths, and thus the creation of Batman.
  • In a deliberate attempt to keep the budget down there are almost no CGI effects shots in this film. One of the very few is the scene where Arthur Fleck walks towards the building named Arkham Asylum in his attempt to look at his mothers medical records. This scene was CGI enhanced but otherwise most of this films effects were either practical or created in camera.
  • It appears Arthur is illiterate to an extent, or dyslexic. In his journal it seems he misspells most words like "I hope my death makes more cents than my life" or in another entry "imagine thats how you die, on the stret" (street). Cents was written by the Joker as a pun on the word "sense". Ironically, he's able to spell "mental illness" correctly.
  • Apart from the fact that the film is based on a mostly original screenplay rather than a direct adaptation of previous Joker origin stories, it is also unique in presenting traditional enemies Joker and Bruce Wayne (Batman) as possibly related: Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is supposedly the illegitimate son of Thomas Wayne, and thus Bruce's half-brother. The movie presents it with a high degree of ambiguity, though: Arthur is initially under the impression that his father left him when he was still too young to remember him, but then learns that he was born out of a secret affair between his mother Penny and Thomas Wayne. He confronts both Alfred Pennyworth (Douglas Hodge) and Wayne (Brett Cullen) with this information, but both men seem completely unfazed by this revelation. They counter-argue that Penny was delusional and merely imagined this affair; she got Arthur through adoption. Arthur subsequently obtains his mother's psychiatric file, which seems to corroborate these events, as well as the fact that his own mental condition may be the result of domestic abuse and negligence. However, all of this is put into question when Arthur finds an old picture of his mother, with the text "Love your smile, TW" on the back; it implies that Penny and Thomas DID have a secret affair that produced Arthur, which could mean that Thomas Wayne used all his power to get Penny locked up in an asylum, and fabricated adoption papers in order to hide his illegitimate son. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Brett Cullen stated that he played Wayne with this latter scenario in mind. All of this is covered with another layer of uncertainty as Arthur is presented as an unreliable narrator who completely imagines a relation with his neighbor Sophie (Zazie Beetz), and depending on how the viewer interprets the ending, the entire movie may be part of Arthur's delusion.
  • Towards the end of the film when Arthur looks at the picture of his mother smiling, as you will see on the back of the photo is the phrase "I've always loved your smile", what you may have missed is that it's initialed TW (Thomas Wayne). Adding to the mystery of whether he truly is the joker's father, considering his power and influence it could have been easy to forge adoption papers, then again it could have been just as easy for Penny to sign the photo herself given her mental state.
  • Joker's red suit seen in the movie pays tribute to The King of Comedy (1982), where Rupert Pupkin, played by Robert De Niro, also dresses in a red suit, and is an unsuccessful, mentally-unstable comedian who stalked and kidnapped his favorite talk-show host, Jerry Langford, played by Jerry Lewis.
  • The scene which had Arthur shooting Murray could be compared to the animated Batman film, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (2013) that showed Joker killing an entire TV show audience with gas.
  • When Arthur talks to his therapist after the subway shooting, he states that people did not notice who he was but now they were. He is subtly trying to tell her that he is the one that killed the three men.
  • Another indication that the film takes place in 1981 happens during the aftermath of the murder of Thomas Wayne and his wife in front of Bruce Wayne; the camera pans away from the alley behind the theatre and has a brief shot of the promotional poster for Wolfen (1981). That movie (also, ironically, a very violent R-rated horror/drama project released by Warner Brothers) was actually released in the summer of 1981.
  • There is a reference to 1986's "The Dark Knight Returns" graphic novel during the scene where Joker appears on the Murray Franklin Show. In this film, he walks up and kisses Dr. Salley. This is similar to the scene wherein the comic he appears on the David Endochrine show and kisses Dr. Ruth, infecting her with joker toxin embedded in his lipstick.
  • Because the film blends imagined events with actual events, the Joker qualifies as an unreliable narrator, a character whose credibility is compromised. It is up to the viewer's interpretation of what was real and what wasn't. In this sense the film is structured to resemble the character of the Joker himself. This was made evident in the graphic novel "The Killing Joke," where the Joker says: "If I'm going to have a past, I'd prefer it to be multiple choice!"
  • Joker's fictional house is located in the building at the 1147 Anderson Ave, The Bronx, NY 10452, USA.
  • This marks the second time that Brett Cullen is father of a superhero. In Ghost Rider (2007) he plays Barton Blaze, whose son Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) turns into Ghost Rider. In Joker he plays Thomas Wayne, whose son Bruce Wayne turns into Batman. Oddly enough, Barton Blaze and Thomas Wayne's deaths are the reason to create Ghost Rider and Batman. More odd, Cullen also appears as Congressman Gilley in The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
  • The stunt driver who drove the ambulance into the police car towards the end of the film, Josh Lakatos, is also an Olympic Silver Medalist from the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
  • Even though it's never mentioned in the film yet it's heavily implied due to the optics, some people have speculated that Arthur Fleck suffers from an eating disorder. The eating disorder he may be suffering from is believed to be anorexia nervosa, which is a disorder that mainly affects women and some men. Arthur's skeletal appearance is similar to that of a person suffering from anorexia. He is never shown eating at any point during the film. The very few times he is seen dealing with food is when he is preparing a meal for his mother and later on in the film when he's removing the few bits of food left in the refrigerator before climbing into it. Even during the scene where he gives his mother her dinner in bed before they watch the Murray Franklin Show, she tells him that he should eat more. Not to mention, his frequent smoking further adds to his frail physique.
  • Director Todd Phillips said that he intentionally left it ambiguous as to whether Arthur becomes the actual Joker as seen in traditional Batman stories or inspires a separate character.
  • The movie has taken strong inspirations from films like Taxi Driver (1976) and The King of Comedy (1982). However, it also shares some similarities with Carrie (1976). Arthur Fleck and Carrie White are both tragic characters that were driven to madness by awful familial histories and a toxic society. For example: * Both characters endured a lifetime of abuse and trauma that resulted in their mental illnesses and social awkwardness. * Both have abusive, overbearing, unreliable, and manipulative mothers. * Both are often mocked and bullied by other people. * Both are eventually driven to kill their abusive mothers. * Toward the end of both movies, both characters are invited to special events only to be publicly humiliated. * Both eventually snap and unleash violence on the public due to being publicly humiliated and the build-up of a lifetime of hurt. * Both ultimately left a devastating impact, for better or worse.
  • This film showcase Thomas Wayne as a cold-hearted man who's possibly an adulterer. Depending on the possibilities and interpretations, it's implied that Wayne had an affair with Penny Fleck decades ago. In the 2018 DC Black Label three-issue comic series, "Batman: Damned", Thomas Wayne was also portrayed as cold-hearted and an adulterer. During a flashback in the first issue, young Bruce sees his father with another woman that's not his mother, and it appears as if Wayne brought his son along with him on his tryst with his mistress, not caring how it'll affect the boy.
  • Director Todd Phillips hinted Thomas Wayne is no hero. Many clues, including Wayne's loud pinstriped suits and Alfred's slicked-back hair and bruiser attitude as he separates Arthur Fleck from young Bruce, hint that Thomas Wayne may be affiliated with the Mafia. Wayne is certainly quick to violence; he's quick to resort to violence when Arthur Fleck tries to talk to him in a bathroom.
  • The film's opening news snippets discuss a garbage strike. NYC's garbage collectors went on strike in 1981. The 80s were also alive and well in Joker's fellow talk-show guest Dr. Sally, a clear nod to 1980s sex-talk-show personality Ruth Westheimer, who was known as Dr. Ruth. Having a radio talk show and later a television show, she became a household name in the 80s, advising viewers and radio listeners on sexual health and pleasure. She made a number of appearances on various talk shows.
  • Most of Arthur Fleck's onscreen clothes are deliberately unremarkable and functional, but his one suit comes out in pieces and parts throughout the early parts of the film. For example, Arthur Fleck wears a rust vest and jacket on his "date" with a friendly neighbor. The palette is outdated, more 70s than the 1981 colors in most of the film's clothes, fitting in with the concept of a character too poor to buy good clothes frequently. In the film's final scenes, Arther Fleck dons all of his brightest colors at once for his big night on the Murray Franklin show. The outfit, though loud, looks so natural in part because Fleck has worn most of its pieces onscreen over time.
  • Arthur repeats Sophie's "shoot myself in the head" gesture back at her after they meet in the elevator, providing us two instances of Foreshadowing. The first is one the movie itself spells out later by showing a flashback to this scene to indicate that it served as Arthur's inspiration to commit suicide on Murray's show. The second is Sophie's reaction, which is her being understandably creeped out by how he returns the gesture to her; this is not a woman who would consider Arthur as a romantic partner even taking into account the aforementioned stalking.
  • Arthur occasionally bashes his head into things when releasing pent-up aggression, and doesn't seem any worse for wear after the fact. Later on, it's revealed he suffered severe head trauma as a child.
  • Earlier in the film, the street kids (whom the rich elite in Gotham were trying to victimize) told Arthur to "stay down" as he was lying on the ground while they were beating him up, yet the crazy riot group (whom the rich elite in Gotham were trying to demonize) were urging Joker to "get up" as he was lying on the car hood after they saved him from police.
  • When Arthur, still in clown makeup after having been fired from his job, interrupts three drunken yuppies harassing a woman in the subway with his uncontrollable laughter, one of them starts to sing "Send in the Clowns" from Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music" play as he and his buddies surround Arthur before beating him up. The Frank Sinatra reprise of the same song plays over the end credits.
  • Shortly after Arthur shoots Murray live on air, the film cuts to a rack of broadcasting center monitors alternately showing various news anchors reporting the murder and footage of Arthur's appearance on the show before and after the murder. This is stylistically very similar to the final scene of Network which also depicts a television personality being shot dead live on air, and the chaotic media reaction immediately after. In The Dark Knight. In the very same scene as above, Joaquin Phoenix's Joker can be seen grabbing hold of the camera, repeating Murray's sign off to the audience. The framing is very similar to Heath Ledger's Joker sending self-made tapes, demanding Batman to step up and challenge him.
  • The social worker Arthur sees twice in the film (before the department's funding is cut) is named Debra Kane also the name of a Child Protective Services caseworker in the novel, "Batman: The Ultimate Evil". A very fitting homage, given what we find out later about Arthur being abused as a child.
  • The opening and closing credits contain a certain level of brilliance: The film opens with the long outdated 70s Warner Bros. logo, most associated with the dark, cynical character studies of the 70s. When the film starts, Arthur views himself as a mentally ill outsider tortured by an uncaring society, no doubt a perfect protagonist for those kinds of films. This represents his tragic view of his life. In contrast to that, the final scene, in which Arthur is chased by orderlies after he kills his psychiatrist, feels like something out of a silent comedy, from his keystone kops-esque run to the stylized "The End" title card. Perfectly fitting of his new darkly comedic worldview and his acquired Joker persona.
  • The music is generally discordant, unsettling and tonally dissonant, to reflect Arthur's decaying mental state. One of the few exceptions, however, is when Arthur encounters Bruce Wayne, at which point the music briefly sounds hopeful and inspiring. To Arthur, this is because he's meeting the boy who could be his brother. To the audience, however, there's another reason: we're meeting the boy who will one day be Batman, a figure of hope and inspiration for the city.
  • Body Count: 8 (possibly more offscreen)
  • According to director Todd Phillips, a certain scene had to be cut in order for the film to avoid getting an NC-17 rating. That scene involves Arthur in the bathtub. Phillips calls the scene "amazing" yet opted out of leaving it in the theatrical cut due to concerns of the MPAA's reaction to the scene that might've cost the film its intended R rating. The scene was one of the many scenes shot yet ultimately deleted from the theatrical cut. He states, "I don't think we can actually include it in an R rated movie and it's not because it was pornographic, it was just insane." This sparked a lot of curiosity over the scene.
  • During the fateful confrontation between Arthur and Murray, Arthur was supposed to say "What do you get, when you cross a mentally ill loner, with a system...", but instead said, "With a society...".
  • Brett Cullen strongly believes that Arthur is indeed Thomas's son, and played the role with this fact in mind.
  • An earlier version of the script had a different story arc in mind for Sophie. Arthur originally did go out with her a few times, but she only did so out of pity, and she was romantically involved with someone else. When Arthur discovered this, he went on an extended rant to her face, before telling her to watch Murray Franklin's show on that fateful night. This version of the story makes it clear that he didn't kill her, as she's shown watching the show with her child.
  • Another element from the leaked script that didn't make the cut was a scene where Arthur originally told Sophie a story during a date, explaining that he cut a slight smile onto his face as a child to scare off bullies. The scene would get a call-back at the end of the film, where Arthur, now the Joker, would have used a glass shard from the car wreck to carve those wounds open again and spread them even wider in front of the crowd. Instead, he paints a smile on his face with his own blood in the finished film.
  • The original script leak had a slightly different ending. After Arthur kills Murray, he escapes the studio. The riot occurs but in this version the rioters break into Wayne Manor, dragging out Thomas and Martha Wayne and executing them. Bruce, while this occurs, hides from the rioters and is found by Alfred the next day. Arthur eludes the police for a few days until he shows up at the Waynes' funeral and he is immediately seen. Arthur is chased and tries to flee but during the process is hit by a car and captured by the police.
  • An alternate ending intended for the film had Arthur revealing to his therapist on Arkham that the joke he was thinking was that he had killed Thomas and Martha Wayne himself and left Bruce Wayne to cry before turning back and killing the boy. The ending was cut because Bruce's death would mean that Batman will never come to exist in the film's universe.
  • Before Arthur kills Murray Franklin on live TV, he blames him for not knowing the "real world" and never leaving the studio. In fact, all of Murray's appearances in the movie show him in his TV studio.
  • The film is set during an economic recession where the downtrodden citizens of Gotham are shown doing what they can to survive, while the rich get to enjoy their opulent lifestyle. After Arthur kills three wealthy office workers, people start viewing the "clown vigilante" as a Working-Class Hero. Not helping matters is the fact that Arthur's therapist says she has to stop his sessions and cut off his anti-psychotic medications due to budget cuts. Thomas Wayne announcing his bid for mayor of Gotham City and referring to the poor as "clowns" who are too lazy to work hard and pull themselves out of poverty, as well as claiming that he's their only hope to improve their lives, pushes the impoverished over the edge into a fully-fledged Eat the Rich movement.
  • Joaquin Phoenix improvised the bathroom dance scene on the spot. In the script, Arthur simply runs into the bathroom, hides the gun, washes his face, and talks to himself while looking at the mirror.
  • Despite his skeletal appearance, Arthur Fleck has shown to have surprising feats of strength in some scenes. Even in the comics, some versions of The Joker character displayed varying degrees of strength. In this film, this particular characteristic is present in some scenes. For example: * When Arthur leaves his job after being fired, he says in a sarcastic and somewhat angry manner, "Oops. I forgot to punch out!" and proceeds to literally punch the clock off the wall a few times, seemingly without a problem. The clock was much larger and heavier than the average clock, yet he was able to destroy it with one hand. * When Arthur visits the Wayne estate and gets confronted by Alfred Pennyworth, Alfred insults him at one point which prompts him to grab him through the gates and strangle him until he lets go for Bruce's sake. Alfred's shocked and frightened expression shows how strong and durable Arthur is. * When Arthur kills Randall, he stabs him in the eye and throat and bashes his head into the wall several times. Despite Randall being a physically bigger man, Arthur was able to grab him and do major damage to him.
  • During the scene after finding out the painful revelation about his past in which Arthur finds himself in Sophie's apartment and she asks him if he needs help, he says to her, "I had a bad day." This is in reference to the 1989 DC graphic novel, "The Killing Joke". In that story, it stated that it took one bad day for the man who became The Joker to snap. Whereas, in this film, it took a lifetime of bad days for Arthur Fleck to snap and become The Joker.
  • Some people have stated that after seeing many variations of Thomas and Martha Wayne's murders, this film is the first time that they didn't feel sorry for the characters due to their cold portrayals. It was even suggested that their deaths were like a form of Karma. It was Karma for not helping the less fortunate people and people with mental illness such as Arthur Fleck.
  • Murray Franklin does not screen the rather unstable-seeming Arthur for weapons when he goes on the show, and later keeps talking to Arthur even as he begins a nihilistic rant rather than call security. This directly causes his death. The film's script furthermore clarifies that while his producer tries to end the interview, Murray refuses because he believes that it's making great television and that he may win an Emmy or a Peabody for it.
  • The unnamed woman on the subway that was harassed by the 3 Wall Street men that Arthur unintentionally "rescued" is shown later at the rally wearing a clown mask (the one in the taxi that Arthur passes) who were inspired by his murders of the three.
  • On Arthur's adoption papers, it is written that he was abandoned and has no actual birth name. Possibly alluding to the comic books that The Joker has no canonically recorded name.
  • The subway shooting of three offensive riders is both starkly reminiscent and modeled on the real-life case of Bernhard Goetz, New York's notorious "Subway Vigilante" of December 1984, which both Todd Phillips and costume designer Mark Bridges were very familiar with: "I was living in New York at the time so I remember it quite well," Bridges said. "He was a very bland person, who had just had it, so there was a bit of that too: Art imitates life a little bit. If this already happened, it's not a far stretch for someone who has been abused and misused enough to fight back, finally. It starts a conversation, maybe: 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore,'" to quote Peter Finch's Oscar-winning, mentally unstable TV anchor from Network (1976).
  • Both Murray Franklin and Thomas Wayne die in the same way, being shot with his killer screaming at them, "You get what you fucking deserve!"
  • The scene in the subway car chase near the end of the film where Arthur/Joker puts a clown mask over his own makeup can be seen as a reference to The Dark Knight (2008) where The Joker wore a clown mask over his own makeup when robbing the bank.
  • Arthur/Joker possibly being Thomas Wayne's son and Bruce Wayne's brother may be a reference to a fan theory that the Joker is the missing son of Thomas Wayne, Thomas Wayne Jr. This theory has been backed up with references to The Flashpoint Paradox comic event where Bruce Wayne died instead of his parents, leaving Martha in a mentally unstable state and becoming The Joker with Thomas Wayne becoming The Batman.
  • In the moments after Arthur Fleck does away with Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) on his own show, we see a lot of images amidst the streets of Gotham City. One of these is that of a burning limo which seems to belong to Thomas Wayne and his family.
  • After Arthur discovers his mother's affair with Thomas Wayne, Penny yells during an argument with him that he's going to kill her. Sure enough, he, later on, does just that.
  • While Arthur's mother is legitimately delusional, a freeze-frame shot in her psychiatric file reveals she was lobotomized.
  • A number of viewers of the film often say that Sophie should have really been Arthur's romantic interest in the film, or at the very least, the twist about her being in Arthur's head should not have happened but instead she was real. While understandable people would want the character to be used more, this misses the fact that Arthur having Sophie genuinely love him/interested in him would essentially ruin the movies whole point of Arthur slowly becoming the Joker, as Arthur being alone and not having people to turn to is one of the biggest contributing factors to him eventually snapping. If Sophie did like him, it would make Arthur's transformation into the Joker either impossible or would require her to become "Stuffed in the Fridge", which is arguably a worse usage of the character.
  • Murray Franklin's signature song of his show is "That's Life", constantly played in several scenes on an instrumental version and the last time it appears the famous Frank Sinatra version is the one played a few moments after Murray's death on the hands of Arthur. The Sinatra version also plays in the background of the climatic finale of A Bronx Tale (1993) where one of the main characters also gets killed. Robert De Niro appears on both films; as Murray in Joker; and as the lead character for a movie he was also the director.
  • When Arthur says "I'll tell you what you get", right before he kills Murray, his voice sounds like he's about to start crying If you closely you can actually see his tears, perhaps it's because he loves Murray but also hates him for mocking his stand up. He may be also crying out of his desperation because he's conscious of what he's going to do he knows that society won't let him be good.
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