Since opening in theaters nationwide at the start of October, Todd Phillips’ “Joker” has not only been generating record-breaking box office numbers but also countless fan theories about alleged secret messages and hidden comic book connections in the Joaquin Phoenix-starring comic book drama. But which fan theories were actually Phillips’ intent in the film and which are just nonsense? Fortunately, the “Joker” director and co-writer has been quite vocal on this subject in the weeks since “Joker” opened.
Phillips has already given at least one fan theory some validity. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he stoked buzz on one claim that suggests Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck is the first Joker and not necessarily the villain that will eventually face off against Bruce Wayne/Batman. The theory states Arthur is the original Joker whose actions in the film’s climax go on to inspire the Batman-hating Joker (perhaps that Joker was a member of the film’s violent protest).
“Maybe Joaquin’s character inspired the Joker,” Phillips told the Times. “You don’t really know. His last line in the movie is. ‘You wouldn’t get it.’ There’s a lot going on in there that’s interesting.”
While Phillips validated one fan theory, he told CinemaBlend this week that other theories circulating online are just pure coincidences dreamed up by fans. One such theory is that Phillips telegraphed Arthur’s evolution into the Joker in the clocks depicted in the movie. At three points in the film the clocks read 11:11, a number which to some represents the awakening of the soul. Arthur smashes a clock with the time 11:11 midway through the film, and from there his Joker persona takes over. Fans on Reddit and CinemaBlend staffers proposed the break in 11:11 signified Arthur’s full transition, but Phillips shot down that theory bluntly.
“It’s a coincidence,” Phillips said. “No, I mean, I don’t know. I think it’s a coincidence. That’s two times. Is there another time? No, no that’s just interesting.”
Phoenix was just as bullish on the theory. “Paul is dead. Paul is Dead. The Beatles,” the actor told CinemaBlend, referencing the far-fetched theory that Paul McCartney died in 1966. “What I’m saying is, I do know that there are some of those things that we put in, whatever the fuck you call them… yeah. I mean, I think some of them you might read into. That’s the ‘Paul is Dead’ joke that I’m making. But no, 11:11 didn’t mean anything to me personally.”
“Joker” continues to play in theaters nationwide from Warner Bros.