Here's Why Joker Left The Origin Story a Big Mystery

Joker is one of the most iconic villains the history of all comic book lore. The nemesis to Batman has long been a factor in some of the most memorable stories told on the pages of DC Comics. However, the villain has never come with a definitive, singe origin story. The character has been known to have alternate versions of his own past but even those are left up for reader or viewer discretion. In the Joaquin Phoenix movie serving as an origin story for the character in his first solo big screen outing, director and writer Todd Phillips intentionally left a heavy bit of Joker's origin story up for interpretation or mystery.

"That was the idea, the idea that all of 'My past is multiple,'" Philips said. "I like to think of my past as multiple choice, it's a little bit of like, 'Wait, did that happen? Did this?' It's really kind of fun when you make a movie with an unreliable narrator. There is no greater unreliable narrator than Joker. He's an unreliable narrator and he's Joker, so it's sort of like a double whammy, and so I think that lends to people's reaction to the movie and I like that people don't really know what happened. There are certain things if you see it again, on a second viewing, you'll notice about that white room at the end that kind of picks up at the beginning, and you go, 'Oh, wait a minute, that's interesting.' Its kind of one of those."

It is unclear whether the entire movie was in Arthur Fleck's head (as is addressed in the video above) or, if it is real, whether or not Arthur, Penny Fleck, or Thomas Wayne are telling the truth about his parentage. Were some documents about his adoption manufactured as a cover up? Was Penny Fleck his mother with his father somewhere else in the world? Was Thomas Wayne actually his dad? Some scenarios seem more likely than others but none of the scenarios seem like sure thing.

Ultimately, Phillips did not want to rely on any single comic or story for the origin story, while also offering up a version of his own. "When Scott Silver and I sat down to write it, we knew enough about the comics," Phillips said. "I read comics when I was a kid, we knew he didn't have an origin story. We also, I don't want to say whether it's real or not because I think part of the fun, I've shown it to many, many different people and they all have a different reaction. Some of them say, 'Oh I get it, I mean the last line in the movie, you wouldn't get it, to a joke he was telling. Well is the joke the movie? Is the joke the thing? Or is the thing about the --' The idea is you don't like to answer those questions, because its nice to see the different things people take away from it."

Phillips isn't ready to disclose whether or not the movie's story is real, but it seems he did intentionally created that discussion.


What did you think about the origin story told in Joker? Share your thoughts in the comment section or send them my way on Instagram and Twitter!

Joker is now playing in theaters.