The Joker is not for the faint-hearted.
The movie revolves around would-be comedian, Arthur Fleck's (Joaquin Phoenix) struggle to come to terms with his identity — culminating in his transformation into a murderer who targets the 1 percent in the name of social justice. It's not an easy-breezy watch.
The ending captures Arthur's descent into madness, which involves detailed fantasies about murder and actual killings. This left fans wondering: Did the Joker kill his neighbor? Who survived?
Arthur is not your average guy. The main character of the movie is a troubled, lonesome man who's perpetually haunted by his own nightmares. Eventually, he learns that his true calling is not to make people laugh, but to convince them to attend more protests.
The self-appointed hero of the lower classes, Arthur embarks on the mighty task of destroying the oppressive social order. How? By standing up against his alleged enemies.
What is so troublesome about The Joker?
The movie juxtaposes Arthur's perception with reality – leaving the viewers unable to untangle the scenes depicting his version of the story with the ones showing what actually took place.
This led to a proliferation of fan theories: some vouch that the Joker killed seven people, including his mother (Frances Conroy), whom he suffocates with a pillow, his friend Randy (Glenn Fleshler) whom he attacks with a scissor, three high-profile bankers, whom he assaults at a subway station, and Murray Franklin, whom he shoots in the head on live television.
Feeling nauseous yet? It gets worse.
The movie presents us with a handful of open-ended questions. Some hypothesize that the last few scenes only took place in the Joker's head — and his triumphant stepping on the stage as the liberator of the oppressed, violated, and vulnerable never took place.
According to others, the Joker did mount a police car before delivering a hypnotizing victory dance in celebration of his own achievements, which include bringing together an enormous crowd of clown-mask wearers eager to destroy capitalism.
Is The Joker related to Batman?
As part of the killing spree, the Joker stumbles on his alleged father, Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen), just as he is leaving the Excalibur Theatre with his wife, Martha (Carrie Louise Putrello) and kid, Bruce (Dante Olson).
Some viewers drew a parallel between this scene and the Batman enterprise, arguing that this is the incident that leads Bruce to become a superhero and take vengeance for the tragic loss of his parents.
Does the Joker kill his neighbor, Sophie Dumond?
The perfect antidote to Arthur's troubled, conflicted character is Sophie Dumond (played by Zazie Beetz), a happy-go-lucky twenty-something who lives just across the hallway.
After a few, superficial encounters, Arthur musters the courage to ask her out on a date. The night is a success, and Sophie encourages Arthur to pursue stand-up comedy.
A few weeks later, Arthur returns to her flat, but this time, under the guise of the Joker. He verbally threatens his former love interest, but he doesn't make physical attacks.
Sophie doesn't appear again in the movie. *Gasp*
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