There are a number of scenes in 2019’s Joker which are revealed to be a fantasy, conjured up entirely by Arthur Fleck (aka Joker). But what if almost all of the events in Todd Phillips’ Joker simply take place in Joker’s mind.
Let me explain…
During the final minutes of the film, Arthur can be seen in Arkham Asylum, having a brief conversation with a psychiatrist. The conversation is fairly one-sided, with the psychiatrist leading the discussion.
This scene explains that following the events of the movie, in which Arthur kills six people and inspires riots in Gotham City, he has been incarcerated in the asylum – a logical way to conclude the film. But what if this scene is viewed from a slightly different perspective.
Is it possible that Joker has been locked up in Arkham for some time? What if the entire events of the movie – everything that has come before – are simply just thoughts he is having while being interviewed? Thoughts in which he is wrestling with this ‘Arthur’ personality.
Maybe Arthur Fleck didn’t slowly become Joker – as seen in the film – maybe Arthur is a personality locked inside Joker’s mind.
Do you buy into this idea?
Well, while you consider this concept, here are four reasons why the events of Joker could all be a fantasy.
The social worker
Early into the movie, there is a scene in which Arthur is talking to his social worker. During the scene, there is an interesting exchange that runs as follows:
Social worker: “How does it feel to have to come here? Does it help to have someone to talk to?”
Arthur: “I think I felt better when I was locked up in the hospital.”
Arthur mentions being locked up in hospital – suggesting he has previously been committed due to his mental health problems. Is this a different hospital, or is this the director’s way of telling us he is currently being locked up in Arkham and this exchange isn’t real?
Not convinced? Well, what about the vision that takes place directly after this exchange?
The piece of dialogue between the two characters is followed by a shot of Arthur in a white room. In the final scene of the movie, when Joker is shown to be locked up in Arkham, the room is also white. Is the room in his vision the same one that is seen at the end of the movie? Maybe.
Early into the movie, Arthur is seen on a bus. A woman and her child are sat in front of him.
Arthur makes funny faces, much to amusement of the child. Arthur begins to laugh, much to the annoyance of the mother, and this causes him to produce a small, laminated card which reads:
Forgive my Laughter:
I have a Condition.
Once she has read the card in full, the mother passes it back to Arthur and apologises. Arthur continues to laugh, trying to stifle the laughter by putting his hand over his mouth.
In the final shot of this scene, the mother can be seen, as can Arthur, but the boy has suddenly disappeared. Was he ever really there?
Check out the scene again. The boy is not in that final shot. This scene is pure fantasy – it didn’t happen. Is this another clue from the director that the events of this film are all make believe?
When we are first introduced to TV talk show host, Murray Franklin, it’s during a scene in which Arthur imagines himself sat in the audience of The Murray Franklin Show. Murray is introducing his show, when Arthur, who is sat amongst the audience, shouts “I love you Murray”.
Upon hearing this, Murray asks questions about who Arthur is and they enter into a conversation. Arthur explains that he lives in Gotham City with his mother and the audience laugh at the notion that Arthur, a grown man in his 40s is still living at home.
This whole sequence is a complete fantasy and it is made clear that this scene takes place purely in Arthur’s imagination. But is this sequence here so that director Todd Phillips can ensure the audience understands this film features many fantasy sequences, and we should question everything?
And finally, there’s the subject of Sophie Dumond – a neighbour and supposed love interest for Arthur. Only, as the movie makes clear, Sophie is never interested in Arthur Fleck and all of the scenes depicting Sophie are pure fabrication. But is there more going on here?
If you view all of the events of this film as an illusion, then Sophie could be an invention created by Joker to subdue the ‘Arthur’ personality. She is the ace up his sleeve.
If Joker and Arthur are in Arkham, locked in conflict with Arthur’s good nature fighting against the Joker’s desire for chaos and revenge, then the Joker knows Arthur will block him at every turn. So, Sophie is created by the Joker to get Arthur to lower his defences.
Sophie lets Arthur believe his actions – including the deaths of three businessmen – are justifiable, even though they are clearly not. She is purely here to get Arthur to travel down a dark path, where right and wrong begin to blur – creating the perfect opportunity for Joker to take control.
At the end of the movie, Sophie’s fate is ambiguous. Maybe the reason for this is because she’s a complete fabrication that disappears from the story because Joker no longer needs her.
We don’t know if she lives or dies, and that is because she was never real to begin with.
So, what do you think? Do you believe the events of Joker are all part of a mental battle between Arthur and Joker, which is taking place in Arkham Asylum? Are the events of the movie just scenes that show the struggle between the two personalities?
I’m not saying this theory is correct; it is just something to consider. But what do you think?
Are all of the events of Joker real or are they all part of an elaborate fantasy? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.
And if you would like to read more posts about the Batman movie series, including a post about the best quotes from Joker, please take a look around this blog. Alternatively, check out one of the recommended reads below.