Joker Set Photos Reveal Interesting Detail You May Have Missed

There may be more to the Clown Prince of Crime than meets the blue-paint-covered eye. 

When filmmaker Todd Phillips released the first official look at Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker in the forthcoming origin story movie simply and aptly titled Joker, the internet kind of went wild. Twitter users tapped out bold tweets that declared Phoenix is "about to be the best Joker we've ever seen," artists on Instagram created watercolor paintings of the actor all gussied up as the Joker to prove their excitement for the new movie, and essentially every pop culture and entertainment outlet (Looper included!) covered the news. 

Since then, photos from the set of Joker have made their way online — and they contain a surprising detail that may incite an even more intense reaction.

Once eagle-eyed fans like Instagram user @the_geek_power got their eyes on the Joker set photos, they decided to take a closer look at the snaps, which feature Phoenix in a brick red suit, mustard-colored vest, and teal collared shirt with slicked-back, swamp green hair and a full face of Pagliacci clown-inspired makeup. In the photos, the Joker is seen sauntering through the Bedford Park Blvd. station of the New York City Subway, smiling and laughing while a group of people who have painted their faces with the the same red, white, and blue the Joker sports hold up signs with messages of support scrawled on them. "Clown 4 Mayor," one poster reads. Another urges the people of Gotham City to "wake up," while two of the most striking ones state "Blame Wayne" and "Fascist Wayne is to Blame."  

But that isn't the shocking part of these set photos. Shift your eyes to the ground, just in front of the pack of pro-Joker Gothamites, and you'll see several men attacking none other than Thomas Wayne (played by Brett Cullen), the head honcho of Wayne Industries and father of Bruce Wayne, better known as Batman, who is apparently going to run for mayor of Gotham City in Joker.  

So, wait just a hot second — does this mean the Joker isn't the villain here? Sure, it's not uncommon for miscreants in comic book movies to stir up their own twisted fanbase, which would explain why several members of the public replicated the Joker's makeup on their own faces and even donned clown masks in another set photo, but what about the focused hatred of Poppa Batman? Is the Joker actually — gasp — a hero to the people of Gotham?

After picking apart these set photos, both @the_geek_power and speculated that Joker will see the Clown Prince of Crime rally up a band of followers and turn them against Thomas Wayne, encouraging them to place blame on him for the hardships they're facing — including poverty, as mentioned in a sign that reads "Poverty is not a crime" and another that displays the word "broke." 

Given that the Joker version of Wayne is less sympathetic than he is in the comics and is a "cheesy and tanned businessman who is more in the mold of a 1980s Donald Trump," one wouldn't have to suspend much disbelief to image that certain people would hate everything the character stands for. This could place the Joker in a position of power, flipping the script to color Wayne as a crook of an aspiring politician and himself, an ex-stand-up comedian named Arthur Fleck who transformed into the Joker after bombing with audiences, as an anti-hero who sets Gotham City ablaze with anarchy and a demand for a new social order.  

It would be a bold move for writer-director Phillips and studio Warner Bros. to situate the Joker as something of a hero, with the Trump-like Wayne being the man to loathe, but it wouldn't be entirely unprecedented. There are dozens of instances in which the bad guys in movies were actually right, like Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) in Blade Runner and Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) in Unbreakable. Similarly, there are even more films that feature good-guy heroes that we're supposed to hope win but whom we can't help but root against

Joker making the screwy-in-the-head villain a quasi-hero who speaks unfiltered truths wouldn't even be the first time a film featuring the Joker did such a thing. Christopher Nolan sort of did it with The Dark Knightin which Heath Ledger's Joker made a strong point about a strictly structured society not being a great fit for humans, who innately crave freedom. Sure, the Joker was an absolute mad man in The Dark Knight — and still is — but it was difficult to completely despise him when he made such a solid argument.

The Joker being an anti-hero in his solo movie would be especially intriguing if a past scoop by That Hashtag Show winds up being true. The outlet claimed back in July 2018 that Joker, which will reportedly heavily feature Arthur Fleck's ill mother, Penny, will reveal that the Joker's biological father is Thomas Wayne. As THS' theory goes, Penny worked for Wayne and eventually became "obsessed" with him, which may have led to her engaging in a sexual relationship with him and falling pregnant with his son. It goes without saying that this is all just guesswork for now, but it's easy to picture the Joker starting an anti-Wayne campaign after learning that his father is a seemingly corrupt businessman and his half-brother is the Caped Crusader he can't stand. 

Also starring Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro, and Marc Maron, Joker will open in theaters on October 4, 2019.