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Why you'll never see any of Joker's many deleted scenes

A gritty, violent take on one of DC Comics' most infamous and instantly recognizable characters, Joker was all anyone could talk about in the fall of 2019. How did Joaquin Phoenix prepare for his role as Arthur Fleck, the mentally unstable aspiring comedian who snaps and becomes a mouthpiece for Gotham's disenfranchised? Would Phoenix's portrayal of the man who called himself the Joker be better or worse than the late Heath Ledger's? Is there a possibility for Joker sequel? What didn't viewers get to see on screen? 

That last question is arguably the most intriguing to chew upon, as there are a number of scenes that didn't make it into the theatrical version of Joker. But unlike what the vast majority of studios and creatives do with their films, Warner Bros. and director Todd Phillips have no intentions to release any of Joker's deleted scenes. 

Here's why the moments left out of Joker won't ever see the light of day. 

Joker director Todd Phillips isn't a fan of deleted scenes

To put it plainly, Joker director Todd Phillips has a deleted-scenes-hating kind of personality. He owned up to that fact in conversation with Collider, telling the outlet that he has an aversion to releasing deleted scenes to the public, as he feels whatever makes it to the big screen should be the only cut of a film audiences ever see. 

When asked whether full scenes were removed from Joker or if they were simply trimmed down in the editing bay, Phillips revealed that there are "plenty of deleted scenes [but] they're not going to be on the DVD." 

He continued, "I don't do deleted scenes [...] Deleted scenes are deleted for a reason. I have a thing against extended cuts and I kind of hate deleted scenes. The movie that exists is exactly the movie we want it to be — I feel like all that adding deleted scenes do is confuse it."

The scene Joaquin Phoenix was initially sad to see cut from Joker

Though Phillips and Phoenix built a strong rapport while shooting Joker — Phoenix said he and the director were "literally were laughing every day" on set – they verged on having a disagreement over a scene that was ultimately cut from the film. As Phoenix told Collider, there was a scene he loved that Phillips eventually wanted gone: one that takes place inside the stairwell at Ha-Ha's, the clown-for-hire company for which Arthur works. 

According to Phillips, the scene was "a heartbreaker," and one of the last ones cut out of the film. It saw Arthur and his co-worker Randall (Glenn Fleshler) — whom Arthur eventually murders with a pair of scissors — talking "on the stairwell leading up to the Ha-Ha's offices." Ultimately, Phoenix agreed with Phillips' analysis and realized the moment needed to be tossed to make Joker the best it could be. 

"I'd always really liked the scene. And Todd told me and said, 'We're cutting that scene out.' And at first I thought, like, 'Wait a minute, what do you mean have you cut that scene out?' And then of course I saw it, and it was very obvious. It has to go," said Phoenix. "That's just what's so cool about movies, right? You can have a great scene, it's something that makes sense, but the movie is the collection of all of these scenes and they have to work together to tell the story."

A deleted Joker scene that would have had a huge impact

That deleted Joker scene may have been rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but there was one sequence left out of the film that would have altered audiences' understanding of the narrative in a profound way. In an interview with IndieWire in November 2019, Phillips shared that he deleted from Joker a scene that confirmed the fate of Zazie Beetz's character Sophie Dumond, the imagined love interest of Arthur Fleck. At the end of the film, Arthur is seen leaving Sophie's apartment following the revelation that he's made up in his head their entire "relationship." The camera shows Arthur walking down the hallway, causing fans to question whether he murdered Sophie. 

Phillips explained that there was a later scene that found Sophie watching Arthur's infamous interview with talk show host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro), which would have confirmed she was still alive and that Arthur certainly didn't kill her. According to IndieWire, Phillips removed that scene because it "would have disrupted the film's narrative structure," which the director wanted to be angled completely from Arthur's perspective. 

Perhaps it's a good thing that fans won't ever get to feast their eyes on any scrapped Joker scene. The film in the way audiences know it now — a billion-dollar-earning, Oscar-nominated psychological thriller that transcends the bounds of comic book adaptations — may be best left unchanged by the release of what was, for good reason, removed prior to its release. The less we know, the better, right?