Joker Movie Explained (Full Review with spoilers)


Joker Movie directed by Todd Philips starring Joaquin Phoenix has been released and everyone is loosing there mind over it. We all know Joker as its one of the all time famous villain from the rouges gallery of Batman. It appears in comics published by DC Comics. First of all remember no body is making Joker a hero or telling its OK to be one. Joker Movie meant to give you an insight on how to make a decent man go onto a killing spree. I recently watched it and here comes my review. Joker is a story about a person born with the twisted mind. But all his life he is trying to be just like us standing on this side of the line. Taking good care of mother; believing in whatever his mother tells him.

Being innocent and gullible at lot of times. But you know what; its Gotham city; The city that has lost its way. City of dark and grit. Where people don’t give a shit about what happens to you or how innocent/ good you are. After numerous times of being bullied, taken advantage of and made fun of; he learns to cross the line. He finds out how easier it is to cross the lines. Because he already has a twisted mind; he starts to think that crossing the lines Is the only solution and finds out how much good it feels to him. Then the joker development starts. At a point you will see a blood smile of a idiopathic killer who does the killing to enjoy; to soothe himself down.

The one who Fired Arthur from job

The guy wo fired Arthur from HaHa’s is the starting point of joker. When he scolds him for not returning the sign; Arthur gets lost in his mind; as most of us do when being scolded. We don’t listen to the person; we just start to think that they are against us and bla bla… On the other hand; that guy doesn’t even seems to care about what does Arthur thinks or feels at that point. All he wants is for his business to stay good. Arthur feels that he is not giving any damn to what Arthur is going through.

The one who gives him the Gun

The guy who gives him the gun initially seem to be nice to him and giving him as self defense. Later on revealed that he did it on purpose to get him fired from the job. The same guy reappears in a scene later on when he is invited to the show. Initially Arthur thinks he is there to cheer him up or is there because he is getting a big gig and gonna be famous. But later on he reveals that he is being suspected for the killing of three and came there just to clean his name (Being Selfish).  First he took advantage of him and then instead of apologizing;  he is still bothered by his own interests only without caring for what happened during days in between.

Thomas Wayne/ The White collars/ The Good Guys

At the point Joker crosses the line for the first time; he did that in his self defense. But later on found that the rich; the civilized; see himself as a murder who is killing people just because he can’t be like them. This is where his disgust for the elite rises. This is the role of Thomas Wayne here. He is a good person but hasn’t gone through the darker side of life thus not knowing the problems of joker. He blames him and takes the side of those 3 muggers. This casts light on how sometimes good people take the wrong sides due to insufficient knowledge of the situation and hurt the ones being oppressed.

Franklin Murray/ idols/ Symbols/ Celebrities

Franklin Murray is the comedy king of Gotham and an inspiration/ role model of Arthur as he idolizes him. But at a point in movie; he does the worst thing to joker. He breaks him by making fun of him. We all know what does that feel to be made fun by someone we love the most; someone we idolize in our life. On other hand Franklin Murray is all concerned about his ratings; his show and his business.

Arthur Fleck’s Mother/ Family/ Close Friends:

The biggest and most tragic role is played by his mother. She tells him to put on a happy face. She tells him to be a good guy and his happiness mean a lot to her. But from the files at Arkham Assylum; he finds out that she is reason why he is that way. She was a delusional narcissist in her younger life. She adopted a kid and abused that kid in its childhood alongside her boy friend. And she felt good whenever the kid cried. So it seems like his brain injury resulted from that abuse.

So the point is Arthur wasn’t born to be a killer/ psychopath. Rather he is a sociopath made through the events of life and abuse he got served in his life.  This gave an insight into what we call Cognitive dissonance. A difference between the reality and the Believes Arthur has. He was thinking that his mother is happy when he is happy; while it was quite the opposite. This made him question all of his reality.

His Girlfriend

Arthur seems to have been dating a girl in living his building. Later on revealed that she was just a delusion. They never dated each other. When he goes over to her place for final time; she doesn’t even seem to know him. All that she knows is he lives somewhere in the same building. Arthur loses mind; and seems like does what Joker always does.

This depicts when we don’t have love; we create its illusion.  Illusions are often aired by fantasies, fears and imaginations. A lost mind will only have some lost imaginations. And later on when that illusion is shattered; it breaks the man too.

Gotham City/ Crippled Society

Todd Philips has done an amazing cinematography of Gotham. He has depicted the right colors and tone for Gotham city. The darkness, the corruption, the grit of that city.  You see clowns; depressed people, everybody loosing there mind, rich not caring for the poor, poor thinking that rich doesn’t want them to be better and a robbing off them of their rights. A prefect city to give rise to a mass murderer and vigilante like Batman.

Original origin story of joker involved him falling into a vat of chemicals. Todd Philips has done something even amazing.

He thinks we no longer need toxic chemicals to twist minds and make people go crazy. We have a toxic society for that purpose.

joker origin and joker movie

Role of media

Todd Philips have also done an amazing job depicting how media is cooking the minds of people. Arthur kills 3 people in self defense. Media gives it the color. Media starts to cooks stories. Something that it always does. It paints the murder as some sort of anti rich campaign start. Thus inviting more and more people of the same thinking to the side of joker. Joker gets what he has been missing all his life. Attention, friends, a big breaking performance that takes the masses with him. He feels how does it feels to be idolized.  He started to feel the existence and the effect he can have.

Delusions and Psychology:

One reason this movies feels so real is that Todd Philips has told the story from inside the mind of Mentally sick person. A person with delusions often creating his own reality. There are points in the movie where you doesn’t even sure which of the parts of the movie are real which ones are delusions. Then other routine psychological behaviors have been depicted quite well.

For example where he sits in front of TV and acts like Franklin Murray. It show how sometimes we see heroes in tv and start imagining ourselves like them. We develop fantasies like that. And it sometimes kills to know that those fantasies are the opposite to reality.

The same way the depiction of feelings that others are being selfish; so should I. Others are don’t care for me; I am the only one who cares for me; so I am gonna take care of myself which ever way I want. I am gonna do what ever makes me feel good.

Criticism on Moral Subjectivism

Moral subjectivism is a concept that morals are not like 2 plus 2 equals four. They are subjective and change from person to person. We get to choose our own rights and wrongs. Todd Philips have beautifully depicted how this doesn’t work and is quite a problem in reality. Joker starts to choose his own comedy. His comedy is his tragedy. His comedy is mass murder. His comedy is inflicting harm and pain to others. It tells why we should not focus on whatever feels good.

Murder is his comedy; massacre is his fun

Criticism on Inspirational speeches and so called Good Talk

how many times this happens that we tell people to be good. We tell people to be strong. We tell people to Smile. Without ever realizing what they are going through. We are telling people to smile and laugh while they don’t have a single thing in their lives to smile for. Instead of creating a smile for them; instead of giving them a smile we are asking them to find one. Some people just can not do that.

We are telling people you have a purpose. You are born for mission. You are special. There are people who ask themselves a question that what the hell is special in them. They don’t see that… they don’t see any closer to that. We must make them see it not just tell them to do so. We must show them how the hell they are special. What purpose they have. Even if the don’t find one; we must tell them its ok to be without a purpose. You don’t have to stand out to be a hero; You don’t have to stand out to live a life.

We are forcing passions on people. Some of us are lucky to find out early on in life that we have a love or passion for something and we do good with it as that passion helps us to develop a  focus in life. Some people take quite a time to find that passion; and some don’t find it their whole life. Don’t force that passion on people. Tell people its ok to be without a passion.
By the way Arthur does find a mission, a purpose, smile for himself on his own. His purpose was to kill and massacre, his smile had blood in it. Is that what you want for people? Find  purpose and stick to it even if its to be a bad Guy/ Villain.

Death of Waynes

This point sets the events for Bruce Wayne’s traumatic life. This is the event that will lead to the rise of batman 20 years later. Death of the parents of Bruce; shows that when a society looses its way; even the good guys got to pay the price. They got to pay for the sins and mistakes of others and their own inappropriate response to it. From here on; the city will never be the same. The only hope for Gotham is gone.

Rich vs Poor

Do you remember the scene where Arthur looks at the teeth of Bruce Wayne; this is point of epic direction. Tod Philips has made a rich vs poor comparison here. Arthur tries to look at the teeth and finds out its all the same. His body; his teeth, mouth, his legs its all the same like them. But he is privileged and they are not. Bruce is normal and Arthur is sick. He has help that he doesn’t need and Arthur doesn’t get any of that. He has people those who stand by him; Arthur is all on his own.

Arthur vs Bruce/ Batman vs Joker/ Hero vs villain

We all have got batman origin movies and stories. This is the first time joker gets to tell his story. Both Bruce and Arthur are same in many ways. Both got served a bad hand by luck. Something traumatic happened to both of them.  Both had someone they loved the most. Both were just kids when all that started. Both didn’t get to choose what happens next.

But there were difference too. Bruce has had friends. Bruce had Alfred pennyworth, commissioner Gordan. and many others. Arthur on other hand was all on his own and got none to tell him everything is going to be OK. Bruce had resources and help. Arthur didn’t. There were people to tell Bruce how to keep his center and showed him how. Arthur never got that.

Ledger’s joker vs Phoenix’s:

There stands no comparison between Ledger’s joker and Phoenix’s. The former was in a  comic book type of movie, having Batman in it. There was action and CGI in it. But Phoenix’s joker is all about how a man breaks, slowly, into madness and despair. And at the end, a man who finally found a sense to his life. So, first one is all about war, second one is all about psychology. We can’t compare them, they’re both masterpieces in their own ways.


I don’t think I have any conclusion here.  I leave it all up to you to solve the mystery and find out something out of all the discussion done above.

Post Author: Arslan Ulhaq

Arslan Ulhaq is Project Director of Chemistries of Life. Asrlan ulhaq is also Co-founder and CEO of Skuire Technologies. He started his career as a Software Developer. Arslan Ulhaq has expertise in the fields of Software Development, Project Management, Team leadership, System Designing, Process Engineering and Business Development. He has been a part of many Projects as Member, Team Lead and Project Manager. He has excellent capabilities of mapping real life processes to computer programs.

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