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This Reported Alternate Joker Ending Would Have Been A Game Changer

Todd Phillips' Joker may have been the darkest take yet on the iconic Batman villain — but it could have been so much darker.

Speaking on his Fatman Beyond podcast, filmmaker Kevin Smith revealed that he's privy to the film's original intended ending — and that it would have had fans' jaws on the floor. (via Digital Spy)

Now, it must be said that while we tend to take rumors of this sort with a grain of salt, Smith is a pretty reliable source. The erstwhile Silent Bob is a lifelong comics geek; he's written for both DC and Marvel, and his profile is high enough that it's safe to assume that if he were to talk out of his rear end while discussing a smash hit film like Joker, there would be plenty of involved parties who would be quick to call him out on it.

Smith also went on record defending the very notion of a Joker origin film as long ago as the summer of 2018, when the world had no idea what Phillips and his star Joaquin Phoenix were cooking up. He's a big fan of the character, he's obviously a Hollywood insider, he's not prone to simply making up stuff — and what he has to say about how Joker might have ended is nothing short of shocking.

What was Joker's alternate ending?

According to Smith, there would have been a brief flashback to the climactic riot (during which a follower of Phoenix's Arthur Fleck shoots and kills Thomas and Martha Wayne) during the film's closing scene in the hospital. You'll recall that Fleck begins to chuckle, telling his attending nurse that he "thought of something funny"; it's here that he says the flashback would have taken place.

In it, we would have seen that it wasn't one of Fleck's followers, but Fleck himself who gunned down the Waynes. As he turned to leave, he would have been stopped in his tracks by the sound of young Bruce Wayne screaming and crying over the bodies of his parents. At that point, Fleck would have turned around, shrugged nonchalantly — and shot Bruce as well

If this is indeed accurate — and, again, we really have no reason to think that it's not — it's pretty easy to see why Phillips chose to cut the scene. His cold-blooded murder of a child (especially the future Batman, for cripes' sake) would have removed any of the sympathy the audience had ever had for Fleck, and while it's true that the event could have been chalked up to the fact that Fleck is not exactly a reliable narrator, seeing this take place onscreen may simply have been too much for some viewers to handle. 

Plus, the alternate ending would have led many a viewer to blurt out exactly what Smith did at the conclusion of his story: "What the f***? The world has no Batman!"

What would Joker's alternate ending have meant for the DC Movie Universe?

While it's fair to wonder just what this ending would have meant for the DC Movie Universe had it been included, the truth is that it likely would have meant... nothing. Joker was obviously intended to exist apart from the continuity of the DC films that came before it; writer/director Matt Reeves' upcoming feature The Batman, to which Joker has no connection, would have been absolutely unaffected.

What the alternate ending might have affected, however, is the prospect of a sequel to Joker. Assuming that Fleck's murder of the future Caped Crusader wouldn't have simply ended up being all in his deranged mind, the event would have opened up an intriguing possibility for future movies: an examination of an alternate universe in which Batman never existed.

Of course, Phillips has long insisted that Joker was always meant to be a standalone film, conceived and shot with no consideration as to how (or, indeed, if) Fleck's story should continue. The director has at times waffled on this point, though; as recently as late last year, he's spoken of an openness on the part of both himself and Phoenix to returning to the character, as long as said return could have "equal thematic resonance" to the first film. (via Deadline)

Perhaps the concept of a Batman-less Gotham City is one that the director and his star could yet explore in an upcoming film. Even if they do, though, we're of the opinion that there are a hundred satisfactory ways to explain why Bruce never becomes the Dark Knight — and that abandoning the idea that he was shot in cold blood alongside his parents in Crime Alley that fateful night was probably for the best.