Note: Spoilers ahead
This year’s Joker clearly had no problem closing the deal at the box office. Following its release in October, the Todd Phillips-directed thriller went on to be named the most profitable comic book movie in history, as well as the first R-rated flick to hit $1 billion dollars in worldwide sales.
However, the Joker we’ve come to know almost had an entirely different ending — one that might’ve changed the entire film and possibly the DC Comics canon as a whole. That’s all according to Kevin Smith, who revealed the surprising twist during a recent episode of his podcast Fatman Beyond.
In the officially released Joker ending, Joaquin Phoenix’s titular character fatally shoots Murray Franklin (played by Robert De Niro), resulting in a wave of riots across Gotham. During the uproar and chaos, viewers see Bruce Wayne’s parents, Thomas and Martha, killed by rioters. The film then shows Joker imprisoned at Arkham State Hospital, randomly laughing to himself. His psychiatrist asks him to tell her a joke, but he shrugs her off and says she simply wouldn’t understand.
According to Smith, Phillips’ alternate story would’ve flipped that whole ending. Instead of rioters shooting Wayne’s parents, a flashback would’ve shown that Joker himself pulled the trigger. Not only that, he would’ve shot young Batman, too.
“Originally, the ending in the hospital was different,” Smith recounted on Fatman Beyond. “He’s [Joker] in the hospital and he laughs, chuckles, and he says, ‘I was just thinkin’ of something funny. What was supposed to happen was you flashed back to the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne and it was him killing Thomas and Martha Wayne and the boy [Bruce Wayne] was screaming and crying and he turned to walk away and he turned back, shrugged, and shot the kid. Credits.”
“What the fuck, man? This world has no Batman,” the Clerks creator added. Indeed, per this much more macabre version of events, Phoenix’s Joker would’ve broken with the DC Comics canon by killing off Wayne, and well before his days as Batman.
Check out Smith’s Joker ending remarks below (scroll to the 16:30 mark).