Joker is perfectly set up for a sequel featuring Batman
Sitting down to watch Joker is a 122-minute psychological gauntlet not only for its lead character Arhur Fleck, but also for the viewers. The laugh of Fleck, a chortle combined with intense pain, reaching a phlegmy crescendo is blood-curdling every time you hear it.
Regardless of however uncomfortable a watch it was, it’s doing well in the charts, and people seem to want to see more of Joaquin Phoenix tap dance around his victims. Couple this with all the Batman references in the film, and we’re beginning to wonder if a sequel is in fact in the cards.
Todd Phillips, the director for the film, prior to the release of the gritty flick, dismissed any chance of a sequel taking place. Disappointingly grouching at a LA press conference that: "We made this movie, I pitched it to Warner Bros. as one movie. It exists in its own world. That's it."
Once the film actually released however, it became immediately obvious that Joker takes place in a rather familiar world, even if it is a standalone one.
About half way into the film, looking for answers as to whether Thomas Wayne is his father, Fleck makes his way to Wayne Manor and then the most important meeting of the entire movie takes place. Arthur Fleck meets Bruce Wayne.
This Bruce Wayne is a child, though Phillips has him slide down a pole to meet Fleck, perhaps a nod towards the pole Batman uses to exit the Batcave in more retro comiv book iterations of the Caped Crusader.
Fleck is then shooed away from the Wayne Manner gate by yet another familiar face, Alfred, the butler to ‘Master Wayne’ and his family. At this point in the ‘standalone’ film, Fleck has in one way or another, interacted with three main characters in the Batman movies.
It’s evident then that Phillips has plopped Fleck into some kind of world where Batman exists, we don’t know if it’s going to turn out to be Robert Pattinson’s Batman in the upcoming trilogy, but the ingredients are there in Fleck’s world for a possible meeting between the two.
The most compelling and confusing bit of evidence comes at the end of the film. At the point where Fleck has been entirely consumed by his Joker character, and goes ahead with the killing of Bill Murray on his talk-show. It’s this televised act of violence that inspired the impoverished and disillusioned population of 1980s Gotham, named ‘clowns’ by the Wayne patriarch himself, to launch Gotham into a period of rioting and chaos.
The anarchic scene shows Bruce Wayne, along with his two parents, rushing out of a theatre to the relative safety of their homes. It is this point where Bruce Wayne’s parents are shot dead by a ‘clown’ and Martha Wayne’s pearls are even torn from her neck in reference to the original story.
For those not clued up fully on Batman’s origins, the story often goes that the death of Wayne’s parents in this moment traumatised him and led him to devote his life to taking down criminals like the one who killed his parents.
It’s this twist near the final moments of the film that really raises our eyebrows to the prospect Joker is not a standalone film. Joker certainly has a lot more creative freedom than other DC films, but it still chose to include the events that resulted in Bruce Wayne becoming the Batman.
The foundation is now set to perhaps lead the Batman films to Fleck’s world, it’s now a question of whether Phoenix and Phillips feel like it.
In that same grouchy conference from earlier, Phillips also said that "The quote was, 'I will do anything Joaquin wants to do.' And I would," Phillips explained.“ So if Phoenix feels like another Joker film, we might see all these nods to Batman bear fruit.
If Phoenix manages to bag an Oscar for his portrayal of Joker, that might help the cause a lot.