Joker proved to be one of 2019’s most controversial films, with Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s interpretation of the villain being a mentally ill loner was the darkest imagining of the superhero genre in years and even created fears that the film could inspire a mass shooting. Despite the fears surrounding it, the film would go on to receive solid reviews from critics and gross more than $1 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time. Now it has been revealed, according to a report by Digital Spy, the film could have had an ending that was even more twisted than the original, one that would have turned the entire Batman franchise on its head.
The theatrical ending of Joker saw Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck imprisoned in some sort of mental institution after setting events in motion for a night of havoc that saw one of his followers take part in the usual Batman origin story and kill Thomas and Martha Wayne in front of their son Bruce. According to film director Kevin Smith, who was discussing the ending on his Fatman Beyond podcast, Phillips had also created an alternative ending that would have seen Joker much more involved in the killings in a way that drastically changed the origin story.
“Originally, the ending in the hospital was different,” said Smith as he described the setup for the fateful event. “He’s in the hospital and he laughs, chuckles, and he says, ‘I was just thinking of something funny.’ What was supposed to happen was you flashed back to the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne and it was him killing Thomas and Martha Wayne and the boy was screaming and crying and he turned to walk away and he turned back, shrugged, and shot the kid. Credits.”
Smith was still shocked as he recounted the scrapped ending, awed that the film would go so far to create a Gotham City where Batman never existed. Obviously the ending didn’t go forward, which may have ended up being lucky for fans of the darker take on the villain. While the film was originally imagined as a standalone with no involvement in any extended universe, Joker’s success made the announcement of a sequel inevitable and with Robert Pattinson taking over as the caped crusader in the latest relaunch of the Batman franchise, it’s hard to avoid speculation that Phoenix’s antihero could be involved.