Todd Phillips, the director of the recently Joker film, has been discussing his decision to leave a Batman twist open.
The film, based on DC Comics characters, famously stars Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker and is an origin story set in 1981 to tell the story of failed comedian Arthur Fleck who makes the slow ascent into becoming the crazed, murdering villain.
A major plotline of the film explains how Fleck’s mother, Penny, claims that he is the son of Bruce Wayne’s father, Thomas Wayne, which would ultimately mean both The Joker and Batman were, in fact, related. However, Thomas Wayne would later deny the claims, insisting that Fleck is actually adopted and that he was never romantically involved with his mother—a story which was confirmed by a psychiatric hospital.
Despite the denial, Phillips left a lingering doubt when he showed an image of young Penny with a handwritten message of “Love Your Smile. TW” which left fans speculation that she may, against all the odds, have been telling the truth about Fleck’s real father.
Addressing the situation, Phillips said: “I liked leaving the idea of Arthur being Thomas Wayne’s son ambiguous,” in an interview with Empire Magazine. “Part of the fun is that question being out there. What would that change if Joker is somehow a blood relation to Bruce Wayne?
“Part of the movie is a search for identity. Arthur’s idea is to fit in and belong somewhere.
“So this idea of Arthur not knowing who his father is, where he came from, if he was adopted, what the story was, was another element in his search for identity.”