Come the first week of October, audiences flocked to theaters to witness a movie that vowed to turn other super hero movies on their heads. It’s safe to say Tod Phillips’ narrative about a down on his luck comic oppressed by the system succeeded in doing just that. With the release, wild theories started to pop up. Some have been obvious, like the ones that claim the film happened completely in his imagination. Others still debate whether Arthur Fleck is Bruce Wayne’s son (which, c’mon…). If you’re looking for some brand new ones, look no more! But be warned, some of these are so insane, they might actually make sense!
1.) Arthur Fleck Was Institutionalized at Least Twice in the Film
Of course we see a flashback in one of the first scenes of Arthur’s previous Arkham lockup. However, we don’t know exactly why he was institutionalized at this moment (more on this in the next point). The first time he was officially locked up (in film) may have been when he was at the phone booth. After he’s fired for having a gun at a children’s hospital, Arthur smashes his head into the glass, reminiscent of his cell behavior shown earlier. Detectives keep coming back to Arthur’s apartment throughout the film for the murder of the subway boys, but he could have been put away for other crimes he was suspected of committing. The sirens after he visits his neighbor’s apartment could also point to evidence that Arthur was in and out of Arkham throughout the movie.
2.) The First Arkham Asylum Flashback Refers back to the Last Scene
This goes with the first theory, which operates under the assumption that the initial Arkham flashback actually refers to his final lockup in the last scene. Now, there’s also a clock in the room during his first counseling session AND in the flashback early on, which is why some people theorize that Arthur never left Arkham. This doesn’t necessarily have to coincide with his final lockup in the last scene, but wouldn’t it be interesting? It could have been an unrelated incident or just one of the many lockups we can assume happened “off screen,” which leads us to our next theory.
3.) The Movie Happens in a Circle
Again, we are operating under the assumption that one of the first scenes and last scenes coincide. Personally, I think this could have been a poetic tie in from the director, symbolic of the poor and condemned remaining pressed down by society.
4.) Certain Scenes in the Movie Happen in the Same Day but are Shown Out of Order
The protagonist of the story is obviously insane, so it wouldn’t be too presumptive to say the timeline of certain events might be a lie. For instance, in earlier scenes, Arthur follows his neighbor, a beautiful single mother, after meeting her in the elevator. At the end of the film, he enters her apartment, and we find that many of their interactions have been his own hallucinations. What if this instead took place on the day he actually followed her?
5.) Arthur Attempted To Kill His Mother at Least Once Before Actually Succeeding
There’s definitely a noticeable pattern in the film that pertains to Arthur’s mood. Each time he kills someone, his mood becomes euphoric. In the scene when Arthur finds out he may be Thomas Wayne’s son, his mother locks herself in the bathroom, worried that Arthur will harm her. In the next scene, he visits Wayne Manor and is noticeably in a great mood. When he returns home, his mother is taken away after having a stroke. There’s hints to suggest this happened when the police were questioning her, but maybe it was Arthur.
6.) He Wasn’t the One Who Started the Riots
This is one with probably the most ground. After Arthur commits the subway murders, Thomas Wayne appears on a talk show where he refers to criminals as “clowns.” Despite the fact that Arthur was dressed as a clown when the murders happened, the clown persona was most likely adopted by the people to spite the words of Thomas Wayne. We see newspaper ads of a man dressed as a clown, wanted for the subway murders, but by this time the citizens have already begun dressing like clowns. That said, the murders could have been committed by anyone in the eyes of the public, and maybe it was Thomas word’s that inspired the backlash, not Arthur’s persona itself.
7.) Arthur Fleck Never Grew Up
Okay, so this one might be a stretch, but there’s a few small reasons why this could be a possibility. The first is that when Arthur seeks his mother’s record at Arkham, he discovers that one of her boyfriend’s abused him so badly, he was left malnourished with bruises all over his back. In an earlier scene, Arthur is shirtless, hunched over as he adjusts the laces on his clown shows. He’s malnourished with bruises on his upper shoulder. This is most likely just physical and psychological outcomes due to past trauma. But why else is he still malnourished? Could there be any merit to this wild theory?
8.) His Existence is Hypothetical
A favorite theory which may line up with the last one mentioned. The character of the Joker has famously preferred his origin to be multiple choice. So what if Arthur Fleck never became the Joker, but was an example of someone who could? One of the angles of the film is a mentally disturbed, down on his luck guy who is constantly oppressed by society. Through his eyes, we see men like Thomas Wayne as villains as they ignore the real problems of Gotham. We feel sorry for Arthur and may be tempted to excuse some of his actions. Still, what if Arthur never existed, but would have been the type of person to become the Joker? His life is the perfect recipe for disaster. Possibly adopted, abused, mentally ill. The perfect candidate, but that doesn’t mean his personal existence actually happened.
These might all just be theories, but it’s fun to think about the possibilities and little things you may have missed while watching Joker. What do you think? What’s your favorite one of the bunch? Do any of these hold up?