Due to the nature of the film, all spoilers are unmarked. You Have Been Warned.
Character sheet for Joker (the 2019 film).
Arthur Fleck / Joker
Played by: Joaquin Phoenix
Dubbed by: Boris Rehlinger (European French)
- "I used to think that my life was a tragedy. But now I realize... it's a fucking comedy."
A mentally ill, impoverished clown for hire and aspiring stand-up comedian who is disregarded by Gotham's society. One day, after being bullied and mocked, he snaps.
- Accidental Hero:
- Inverted. He becomes an icon and inadvertently begins an Eat the Rich movement in Gotham when news hits of a guy in clown getup murdering three Wayne Enterprises employees. Arthur killed them (mostly) in self-defense, and has no real personal investment in Gotham politics, but the notion of a clown murdering the powerful and the wealthy inspires others to don clown masks and makeup during protests against the ruthless elite (although the clown aspect is also due to Thomas Wayne insulting them by calling all the poor "clowns"). After his murder of Murray Franklin on live television, those same protesters incite riots in the streets wearing clown masks, and when they find him they hail him as the spearhead of their movement.
- However, it's played straight in that one of his laughing fits ends up saving a woman from being harassed on the subway by those men who turn their attention to him instead. Said woman even joins the clown mask rioters later.
- Adaptational Dumbass: Even when Joker is genuinely insane in other stories, he is still cunning and a great chemist. Here, Arthur doesn't have a great education (outside of a taste for older movies) and relies on luck more than anything though he shows a lot of cunning on the train whilst escaping the cops. He also mispells a lot of words similar to real life mentally ill mass murderers. It appears that he may have suffered some brain damage as a kid from his mom's abusive boyfriend.
- Adaptational Early Appearance: Most Joker stories have him start his career after Batman starts his. Here, not only does he become Joker while Bruce Wayne is still a child, he indirectly causes the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, and, by extension, accidentally creates Batman (as opposed to the other way around).
- Adaptational Nice Guy: Arthur is not the monstrous, purely evil clown that most Joker incarnations make themselves out to be - he starts off a troubled, but highly well-meaning and imaginative man who just ended up in precisely the wrongest environment possible, it being so damaging that it ends up having him sink into madness. Even after he does though, he still spares a scant few because they were nice to him, like Gary for example; any other Joker would have shot him in the face For the Evulz.
- Adaptational Wimp: He's not yet the Evil Genius, Magnificent Bastard or Diabolical Mastermind that most incarnations of the character are. One of his earliest scenes is getting robbed and beaten-up by a group of teenagers.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: His suit is red in this instead of purple, like Cesar Romero's.
- Adaptation Name Change: The Joker's real name is traditionally unknown. While some adaptations do give him a civilian name, no previous version of the Joker has ever been named Arthur Fleck. As a downplayed example, the Joker is always referred to as just Joker — never the Joker. It's potentially further downplayed by his adoption papers (which are possibly faked) stating that his birth name is unknown.
- Adorkable: In the beginning, he's a endearing Manchild who just want to entertain people and make a name for himself. Too bad it won't last.
- Age Lift: He's usually around the same age as Batman when they meet. Here, similar to the Tim Burton film, Arthur is already a grown man when Bruce is a kid.
- All for Nothing:
- At the end of the day, despite everything Arthur ends up accomplishing, and the mark he makes upon Gotham and its citizens, he is unable to get anybody to really care about him, the one thing he truly ever wanted. In the end, the rioters only see him as the Joker — not as Arthur Fleck. It's implied that his realization of this is what finally drives him to give in to the Joker persona.
- Another aspect of Arthur's stated goal was to use his comedy to make Gotham a better place. After becoming Joker, he tries to accomplish this by giving those he believed to be at fault "what they deserve". Ultimately, both Murray and Wayne were just symptoms and figureheads of Gotham's corruption, not the source. Their deaths did nothing to cure the underlying disease within Gotham. In fact, Arthur has now come to embody it as the Joker.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: One of the conditions that Arthur suffers from, which causes him to laugh uncontrollably from time to time, is actually a real neurological disorder called PBA. Incidentally, it is unofficially referred to as "Joker Syndrome" in real life, though that's only because people generally know the character.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Arthur suffers from a series of psychological disorders that are never fully defined, aside from the aforementioned PBA. He is very socially awkward, shows signs of depression and anxiety, and worse yet, suffers hallucinations. It turns out that he's actually brain damaged due to prior abuses from his adoptive mother and her boyfriend, so it's even left ambiguous if his laughing condition is indeed a mental disorder, a result of the aforementioned brain damage, learned behavior, a biological condition which causes him to react to stressful situations with laughter... or just a bizarre sense of humor.
- The Anti-Nihilist: A very dark version. Arthur experiences a crippling amount of trauma over the course of the film, and plans to kill himself on national television as a result. But when given the opportunity, he ends up choosing to shoot Murray, and after the fact he decides to fully embrace his new lease on life as Joker. Because if his life is just a comedy, it's better to just go along with the joke. Him Waxing Lyrical with Frank Sinatra's "That's Life" at the end of the film cements this.
- Appropriated Appellation: Arthur gets the idea of the name "Joker" because Murray called him "a joker" while he was making fun of him on his show.
- Arc Symbol: Fire. As Joker he dresses in red and orange, constantly smokes and his actions lead to Gotham being set on fire, both figuratively and in a lot of locations literally. Very fitting element for a character known for spreading uncontrollable chaos and destruction.
- Ax-Crazy: After becoming the Joker, he transforms into a dangerous and unstable madman who will brutally murder anyone who wronged him.
- Bad Liar: He tries to pass his gun as a prop for his clown act, which his boss and the cops don't buy.
- Became Their Own Antithesis: Arthur starts off as just another nameless face in Gotham; a perpetually depressed, anxious, and above all else lonely individual, who can only truly ever be happy whenever he makes others laugh. Despite this, he's a generally Nice Guy, a hard worker, and somehow surprisingly optimistic, given his circumstances. As he becomes more detached from reality and suffers more abuse from the worst of Gotham's citizens, Arthur gives in to his darker urges and becomes a destructive sociopath who only finds pleasure in the suffering of those who wronged him... while at the same time becoming more self-confident, bombastic, and audacious. He even manages to gain recognition among the oppressed of Gotham, as a clown who stands up against the powerful and wealthy, even though Arthur personally has beef with pretty much society as a whole.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: The film is about how Arthur's misfortunes by others turned him into the Joker.
- Berserk Button: A trait shared with several previous Jokers, Arthur really does not like being laughed at.
- Bloodbath Villain Origin: His Start of Darkness involves him killing three Wayne Enterprises employees. He kills the first two in self-defense, but deliberately pursues the last man and finishes him off. He later dons the clown makeup and suit after smothering his mother with a Vorpal Pillow and killing his False Friend ex-coworker, Randall. Finally, he accepts a new identity as "Joker" before proceeding to murder Murray Franklin on live television, and fully embraces this role after rioters ravage the streets in his name.
- Body Horror: Arthur's poor lifestyle made him a very skinny man, with his ribcage visible through his torso whenever his shirt is off.
- Broken Pedestal:
- He's a fan of Murray Franklin. Less so once he ends up becoming Murray's punchline one evening.
- He is also devoted to his mother, until he learns from her psychiatric files that she lied about his paternity and indirectly caused his laughing condition by facilitating his abuse as a child.
- Butt-Monkey: He's had it bad, to say the least. Everyone around him pummels, insults, and manipulates him constantly without a second thought, even belittling his Pseudobulbar condition regardless of whether or not they are aware of it. It turns out that he's had a rough childhood too, if Penny and her boyfriend's actions are to signify anything.
- Camp Straight: Is attracted to his female next door neighbour but as Joker is flamboyant and elegant in his mannerisms.
- Cheerful Child: He wasn't, but his mentally-ill/lobotomized mother interpreted him as this after he started having his laughing fits (hence her pet name for him, "Happy"). Note that these were because her boyfriend beat him into unconsciousness and she did absolutely nothing to stop it.
- Childhood Brain Damage: It's implied his mother's abuse of him as a baby is largely responsible for his many mental instabilities, and when Arthur learns of this, he smothers his mother with a Vorpal Pillow, finally donning the clown getup and face paint soon after.
- Composite Character: Incorporates elements of Travis Bickle and by extent, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov and arguably, traits of Oswald Cobblepot in Gotham.
- Calling back to previous iterations of the character, he has long hair and dons makeup and hair dye (instead of being chemically altered) like the Nolanverse version, wears a reddish suit instead of the classic purple like Cesar Romero (with orange and green on the inside like Batman: The Animated Series Joker), goes to a talk show and kills the host unexpectedly like the Dark Knight Returns Joker, is someway responsible for the deaths or Bruce Wayne's parents like Tim Burton's version and attributes like being a nobody, failed comedian who had "a bad day" and being an Unreliable Narrator when it comes to telling his story bring to mind Alan Moore's Joker. Additionally, Suicide Squad's Joker exhibits attributes that stem from punch-drunk syndrome, a damaged brain condition. Arthur is also clearly brain-damaged.
- Create Your Own Hero: Although indirectly, his actions caused one of the clown rioters to shoot and kill the parents of a boy who in a few years will be Gotham's hope and his eternal nemesis, Batman.
- Cult of Personality: Arthur's time as Joker clearly has a lasting effect on certain members of society as a whole, to the point where some of the protesters railing against Thomas Wayne are shown wearing clown masks. In fact, one of those people wearing clown masks is inspired by Arthur to shoot Thomas Wayne.
- Cry Laughing: Arthur is visibly frustrated at himself whenever his condition causes him to laugh involuntarily in public, and it eventually gets to the point where you can't tell whether he's laughing or sobbing.
- Dance of Despair: Arthur does multiple slow dances by himself throughout the movie, and most of them are performed in his moments of sadness. His dances get noticeably more upbeat and lively scored when he embraces his Joker persona.
- Dark Messiah: Following his first murders, Arthur indirectly started a movement of the poor to fight against the rich. After admitting to his crimes on TV, an all-out riot occurs throughout the city and the people even save him from the police.
- Foreshadowed with his dance moves, where he often spreads his arms out and keeps his legs together similar to a crucifix pose.
- Deadpan Snarker: Is occasionally prone to this, such as when he exclaims "Oh, wait, sorry, I forgot to punch out!" before punching a clock off a wall, then crossing out "Forget To" from the sign saying "Don't Forget To Smile." Then there's "You know who's not a good dancer? Him!" and of course "They couldn't hold a tune to save their lives."
- Death Glare: He gives one to Murray while calling him out for making fun of his Pogo's video while on the air.
- Deconstructed Character Archetype:
- Arthur Fleck is a deconstruction of your standard Ax-Crazy villain. Violently insane people are still people, and mental illness is ultimately an illness. Mental illnesses are devastating to the less fortunate, who have no way to deal with them and makes the society alienate them. With no easy way to treat their illness, this leaves them with no choice but to further descend down their insanity, until one day it takes them over and has them reacting violently to the society that alienated them.
- Likewise, as mentioned in Pragmatic Adaptation, Arthur is not a super-intelligent criminal mastermind who regularly terrorizes Gotham with outlandishly destructive schemes. He becomes a serial killer over the course of the story, but he's nowhere near the super-terrorist the comics make him out to be. This makes sense as Arthur lives in Perpetual Poverty, and has No Social Skills; he could never gather the resources nor the manpower to deliberately corral people over to his side and enact violence upon the populace. The only reason he's as much of a "threat as he is is because people impose and project their own fears and/or needs upon him—everyone assumes that the three Wayne employees were murdered to make a political statement, and are quite surprised when Arthur explains he killed them "because they were awful."
- Disabled in the Adaptation: Depending on the Writer, the Joker in the comics is really just Obfuscating Insanity to get out of more fitting punishments for his crimes. Here, Arthur is shown with legitimate issues, including Pseudobulbar Affect and has hallucinations.
- Disproportionate Retribution: His grudge toward Murray is that he made fun of his botched stand up (in the same way the comedians of World's Dumbest... would if they kept to more tame jibes) and plans to get back at him by committing suicide on his show; he later decides to kill him instead.
- Driven to Suicide:
- He initially plans on killing himself live on air after being invited on Murray's show, but ultimately changes his mind and kills Murray instead.
- Earlier in the film, he also tried to lock himself in his refrigerator until he suffocated before backing out of it.
- Eat the Rich: Arthur comes into conflict with multiple wealthy and powerful people throughout the film, but his enmity is focused moreso on the whole of Gotham, and perhaps society, itself. Nonetheless, the poor and oppressed of Gotham come to view Arthur as an icon, and tout him as such especially after he murders Murray Franklin.
- Evil Feels Good:
- His response when Murray scolds him for his murders and the chaos he caused, is to laugh and replied a sinister and satisfied "I know."
- When he's being taken away by the police, he calls the riot he inadvertently instigated in downtown Gotham beautiful.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Arthur has a poor grasp on comedy, aside from making silly faces and clowning. When he becomes Joker, he starts finding humor in poor places.
- Evil Laugh: Comes with the character, though most of his laughing fits are due to his condition. By the time he confesses to murdering the three men on the subway, his laughter becomes a lot more malicious.
- Finger-Forced Smile: His first scene in the movie has him doing it to himself, in a clear display of the sadness he tries to hide. He repeats this gesture throughout the movie and also does the same to a young Bruce Wayne when he visits the manor.
- For Happiness: Aside from money to support himself and his mother, Arthur's motivation to enter the comedy business is that he always wanted to make people laugh and be happy. He genuinely enjoyed his clown job and and had high hopes to do stand-up comedy.
- Freudian Excuse: It is revealed that Arthur had been abused by his adopted mother as well as her boyfriend, and that his mental disorders, including his laughing condition, are possibly (if not likely) resultant from Childhood Brain Damage. However, it's also possible that his extreme fits of laughter are an involuntary biological response to fear or stressful situations that he had developed during his childhood abuse.
- Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: As Murray makes clear, his Trauma Conga Line of a life is no excuse for resorting to murder. Even Arthur himself seems to understand this:
- Friend to All Children: Throughout the film, it's clear that Arthur has a soft spot for children, to making funny faces for an infant to entertaining sick kids in the hospital. He doesn't even hold anything against the teenagers that stole his sign and beat him up, simply stating that they were just kids. It makes the possibility that he killed Sophie's daughter more unsettling, and the fact that he's indirectly responsible for the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne more ironic.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Arthur Fleck — the Butt-Monkey, The Chew Toy, the Cosmic Plaything, the No Respect Guy — winds up becoming the most dangerous and feared man in all of Gotham, as well as one of the greatest arch-enemies for the Dark Knight.
- Giftedly Bad: He's a good clown if his act at the children hospital is anything to go by, but he fancies himself as a rising stand-up comedian. His first real stint at the Pogo's ends up a disaster; his unfunny material would have sunk it in the first place, but Arthur's failure ends up being because of his uncontrollable laughing fits ruining his delivery of his first joke, and then stopping him from saying anything after that. People end up laughing at his stand-up, but for the wrong reasons...
- Glasgow Grin: Not surprising since it's the Joker but, in this version, he doesn't get his mouth sliced. Rather, he uses his own blood from the police car crash at the end to paint the sides of his mouth and make it look like a grin.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: As both timid, innocent Arthur Fleck and as the malevolent Joker, he smokes like if a chimney and Ayn Rand had a baby.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Learning the truth about Penny is the final straw to complete his Sanity Slippage.
- Grew a Spine: A very dark example. By the end of the movie, Arthur is done getting screwed over by circumstances and he takes matters into his own hands.
- Happy Dance: After embracing his new identity of Joker, Arthur's dances become more upbeat and lively, making it clear that they come from a feeling of confidence and happiness. Of particular note, he performs some moves to mock detectives Garrity and Burke as they are being beaten by the clown rioters
- The Hyena: A deconstructed example. The Joker's Laughing Mad tendencies have been reinvented as a neurological condition that forces him to burst into laughter at random, often inopportune times. Then Penny's file reveals that he doesn't have the Pseudobulbar Affect condition at all, and he considers his laughing fits as just his strange sense of humor rearing its head.
- I Am What I Am: Gives one during his appearance on Murray Franklin's show, revealing he had killed the three guys in the subway, leading to him embracing what he was becoming.
- Icon of Rebellion: His murder of the Wall Street three is what kickstarts the city wide protests throughout the movie, and the rioters all wear clown masks explicitly because of the clown makeup Arthur was wearing when he committed that crime (and also for having been called "clowns" by Thomas Wayne). At the end of the movie, Arthur is broken out out the police car he was held up into and praised by a crowd of such rioters.
- I Just Want to Be Loved: Arthur desperately wants to find love and validation from others, which is why he's so quick to smile when he's around Sophie. Or rather, his hallucinations of her.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Played for Drama. Arthur is in truth a modest man who isn't concerned with upping his standing in society. He really does just want to become a comedian, and make people laugh. But when his efforts are disregarded and people just keep heaping abuse upon him, he clings to whatever form of validation is available... namely that of violent protestors who ape the clown gimmick and seek a massive upheaval throughout Gotham's society.
- Insane Equals Violent:
- A subversion. Arthur is a peaceful man who is trying to do good and only wants to make people happy. However, he is also living with mental illness, which is only exacerbated by the casual mistreatment and abuse he takes from random people in his daily life; this is actually true of most insane people in real life, who are often more susceptible to being physically harmed by others. The constant abuse is what pushes Arthur towards violence, not his mental problems.
- It's also shown that Arthur has been actively seeking help for his psychiatric problems, taking medication regularly and seeing a psychiatrist for weekly counseling. However, as those who know the source material know, Arkham doesn't have the best track record for the mental health of its patients, and it doesn't appear to be an exception here, as the trailer first shows. His psychiatrist also tells him that their current session shown will be their last due to the city cutting funding for therapy and medicine to those in need. It's likely the lack of resources and access to help — and the frustration towards this — only worsens Arthur's state of mind and pushes more and more towards antisocial behavior.
- Ironic Name: Arthur's name brings to mind the legend of King Arthur, was a royal bastard who eventually came to rule Britain. Arthur later discovers he may be the bastard child of Thomas Wayne and Penny, but it is later established that Penny was/is very delusional and imagined the whole affair in her head. Probably. Arthur does become a kingly figure by the end of the film, however, lording over a whole mob of rioters who see him as a symbol of their suffering at the hands of the upper-class.
- It Gets Easier: Arthur's first murders were an accident and arguably self-defense, but as his insanity worsens, he has no problem killing others as well.
- Joker Immunity: Being the Trope Namer himself, the Joker survives a rather gruesome car accident when a member of the angry mob drives an ambulance into the police cruiser he is riding in. The driver didn't survive, but the Joker, despite his injuries, is still capable of standing.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Starts off the film as a down-in-his-luck regular schmo who wants to make people laugh, and his first murders are only people who kind of had it coming, but eventually as he's beaten down, he turns into an Ax-Crazy serial killer who isn't afraid to kill people who have just slighted him, or possibly even not at all, and openly revels in the chaos that he has ignited around the city.
- King of the Homeless: Arthur's actions as Joker turn him into an icon representing the suffering endured by the lower/middle class of Gotham. Though Arthur personally cares little for Gotham politics, he embraces the role because it's the only way for people to truly notice him.
- Lack of Empathy: He tells a clerk at Arkham State Hospital that he did something — killing three men on the subway — that he thought would bother him, but it didn't. Later, he boasts about it on live television.
- Laugh Themselves Sick: Aside from being involuntary, Arthur's laughing fits bring no benefits to himself and actually nauseates him more than once. He is shown sometimes to try to catch his breath after an episode.
- Laughing at Your Own Jokes: What kills his attempt at stand-up comedy are his uncontrollable laughing fits even before he tells his joke. As the movie progresses, Arthur starts laughing at his own morbid comments, and it's clear that only he finds any humor in them.
- Laughing Mad: As he experiences more trauma, Arthur comes to use his laughing fits as a means of getting all his stress out. The last scene of the film show him cackling like a loon, totally consumed by his insanity.
- Lean and Mean: He is uncomfortably gaunt due to his rough life. As far as the "mean" part, he comes around to this by the end of the film.
- Loss of Identity: Arthur has a case of this after learning the Awful Truth about his adoptive mother abusing him, leading to him deciding that he needs to go by a different name. To him, "Joker" is as good a name as any.
- Made of Iron: Arthur takes a lot of severe physical abuse, twice being beaten down and kicked by a group of men and at one point gets hit by a car that sends him flying, and later after he's arrested, he recovers easily from being inside a car that was struck by a hijacked ambulance but he never seems worse for wear.
- Madden Into Misanthropy: A series of several bad days, coupled with Arthur no longer being able to afford his medication, result in an insane lunatic who thinks that everybody is awful and deserving of death.
- Matricide: Once he learns his mother was abusive, he gives her the Vorpal Pillow medical treatment.
- Meaningful Name: Arthur Fleck, or rather, A. Fleck. Which is to say that the character who will become the Joker is just "a fleck" to a society that's rejected and shunned him, until he learns of the healing power of laughter, and it becomes an Ironic Name. Arthur mentions that he always hated the name.
- Meaningful Rename: He requests that Murray Franklin address him as "Joker" before his appearance on the talk show begins, signifying his transformation into that persona. But also something that Murray called him as being a "joker" whilst still making fun of him.
- Messy Hair: Arthur sports an untamed head of lank hair, which gets even messier when it rains in some key and significant scenes. However, he does try to tidy it up for his imaginary dates with Sophie.
- Momma's Boy: Arthur is a man in his late thirties or early forties who takes care of his ailing mother, going so far as to give her baths, and even dances with her in an over the top, weirdly intimate way just to make her laugh. Not surprising, given that she's likely one of the only people who has actually treated him with decency. Subverted when he realizes that she's not his real mother, but that she adopted him, and has been abusing him for years, at which point he decides to smother her to death.
- Monster Clown: Par for the course for anything having to do with the Joker, although he actually starts as a Non-Ironic Clown and Sad Clown in contrast to other versions of the character.
- Named by the Adaptation: The Joker does not have a canonical name in the comic books, although multiple aliases — such as Melvin White, Jack Napier, and Joseph Kerr — have appeared. Here, his real name is Arthur Fleck. It's slightly downplayed by his mother's psychiatric files stating that his birth name is unknown.
- Nice Guy: Starts off as this. Despite his issues, Arthur seems to genuinely enjoy his job as a clown, especially when entertaining children. He is emotionally mature enough to recognize that the teenagers who assaulted him were simply acting out of adolescent mischief, not true malice or evil. He does his very best to support his mother in spite of all his disabilities and remains optimistic that things could start looking up for him any day now. However, being wronged one too many times along with a lack of medical treatment slowly begins his transformation into the terrifying Joker.
- Nightmare Face: He inflicts one upon himself, using his own blood, in front of his crowd of followers, completing his transformation into the Joker.
- Non-Ironic Clown: Starts off as this before going off the deep end. Unlike his fellow clowns that he works with, he seems to genuinely enjoy the work.
- No Medication for Me: At the beginning of the film, it's stated that's he taking seven different medications for his mental illness, which only seem to make him depressed, but once Gotham's social work funding it cut, he is forced off his meds. He tells his former coworker Randall that he feels better than ever now that he's not taking any more pills... right before Arthur brutally murders him with a pair of scissors.
- No Sense of Humor: Implied to be the case. He only actually laughs (until the end) due to his condition or when other people are laughing because he thinks it's the appropriate reaction. He's shown writing down the performing comedian's material during the aforementioned scene, and when he tries to write his own jokes for his stand-up routine using his notes, none of them are actually funny to anyone else. His stint on Murray's talkshow doesn't actually have him making any funny remarks, just talking about tragic and heinous things that he alone finds hilarious.
- No Social Skills: An isolated lifestyle coupled with several mental illnesses prevent Arthur from properly relating to other people.
- Nothing but Skin and Bones: Without his shirt, he looks horribly malnourished. Ironically this is how the Joker was when he was first introduced in the comics. He's come full circle!
- Oblivious Adoption: He only finds out that Penny is not his biological mother 2/3 into the movie.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: To some degree, Arthur believes killing the three Wayne employees was righteous. His hallucinations of Sophie even applaud the clown-killer as a hero, and he justifies much of his actions later on as what you get when you cross "a mentally ill loner with a society that abandons him and treats him like trash."
- Pet the Dog: Despite being driven completely insane, Arthur lets Gary go after killing Randall in cold-blood because Gary was the only person who was nice to him back in his old workplace.
- Pragmatic Adaptation:
- Arthur's Joker isn't a diabolical criminal mastermind who causes mass destruction on a regular basis; he's a serial killer whose effect on Gotham society is more accidental than anything else.
- This version of Joker never takes a dip in an Ace Chemicals vat, so his Monster Clown look is merely makeup from his clown career. Given the film's gritty, realistic take on the traditional comic book lore, this is a good example of Tropes Are Tools.
- Precision F-Strike: Arthur doesn't typically swear, but when he does, it's a clear sign that things have gotten way out of control.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: The story is all about Arthur's slow descent into madness and violence.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Degrades into this over the course of the movie. All his innocence gets worn and torn apart by the abuses dealt out onto him by others, and his Motive Rant at the end notably comes off as more self-pitying than anything triumphant or badass.
- Psychotic Smirk: As he becomes more and more unhinged and embracing of his Joker persona, Arthur still smiles, but this time with a clear intent on doing harm to others. At the same time, these are his most genuine expressions throughout the movie, as he finally finds happiness in the evil he becomes.
- Rage Breaking Point: His last "joke" to Murray. It's clear that he's letting out ALL of the pent up aggression and sorrow from the whole film."What do you get when you crossed a mentally ill loner with a SOCIETY THAT ABANDONS HIM AND TREATS HIM LIKE TRASH!?..(voice crack) I'll tell you what you get, YOU GET WHAT YOU FUCKIN' DESERVE!"
- Reckless Gun Usage: Due to Arthur having absolutely no idea how to handle a gun properly. After accepting Randall's gun, Arthur has a moment where he's all by himself in his living room and starts dancing while waving it around, and accidentally fires a shot in the wall while miming shooting someone. He also doesn't plan on how to securely conceal it on his person, leading him to unintentionally drop the gun in the middle of a children's hospital.
- Rule of Symbolism: Arthur has to slowly and wearily walk up a dark set of stairs to get home, as if he's being weighed down by the harsh realities of life. When he finally becomes the Joker, he happily dances down those same stairs in the daytime, as if he's gleefully descending into madness.
- Sad Clown: He starts off as a somewhat optimistic but down-on-his-luck comedian and clown-for-hire, until getting attacked by a bunch of kids then by three yuppies (both times for no reason) and then getting humiliated on TV eventually drives him over the edge. Deep down, he's a Stepford Smiler who's never been truly happy in his entire life, and his uncontrollable laugh comes off as more of a cry from the inside. This is even reflected in his Joker makeup, where the blue diamond over his left eye is is running slightly, resembling a teardrop.
- Sadist: He finds death and destruction hilariously funny.
- Sanity Slippage: Arthur was mentally ill enough to begin with, but the series of terrible events that happen to him throughout the movie definitely doesn't help in any way. But then again it's thanks to this that he became the Joker we all know and feared by all of Gotham (well, almost all).
- A Sinister Clue: Arthur is right-handed, but he starts to switch more to his left hand (and left foot) when his Joker persona begins to emerge.
- Serial Killer: Not yet a supervillain criminal mastermind (if he's ever destined to be one in this continuity), this Joker is a simple spree killer. He does have followers but these are merely random rioters adopting his image and admiring him for being the movement's sparkle rather than members of any organization he runs. By the end of the film, he has personally killed six to nine people: the three WayneTech employees, Penny, Randall, and Murray for sure; plus possibly Sophie, her daughter, and his psychologist.
- Smoking Is Cool: Certainly seems to think so as he suavely smokes a cigarette while dancing on the steps, as well as during his Unflinching Walk on the subway station amongst all the chaos.
- The Sociopath: What he's become by the final act of the movie. His capacity for empathy has drained away completely, he feels no remorse for any of his murders but actually seems to take pride in them and revels in destruction and chaos.
- Spell My Name with a "The": Averted for once. Right before his debut on The Murray Franklin Show, Arthur insists on only being called Joker.
- Stepford Smiler: Arthur claims to have never truly ever been happy for even a single minute in his entire life, but throughout the film keeps up a half-smile that gets more and more psychotic as time passes.
- Straw Nihilist: Becomes a violent sociopath who believes Humans Are Bastards, and is so hollowed out from merely existing that he eventually plans on killing himself on live television.
- Stronger Than They Look: Despite his wire-frame physique, Arthur is surprisingly strong, nearly choking Alfred to death, only letting go of the butler's neck after noticing that Bruce was watching. Although perhaps not too surprising, since he is shown making that same squeezing motion on his clown shoes in the locker room multiple times.
- That Man Is Dead: After discovering his mother's deception and the abuse he suffered as a child, Arthur kills both her and one of his former co-workers (and possibly Sophie) to burn any bridges to his past life as Arthur Fleck. Before he appears on Live! With Murray Franklin, he renames himself "Joker" and requests he be called that from that moment on. He embraces his new self very quickly.
- Then Let Me Be Evil: The constant abuse he had on a daily basis ends up turning him into Gotham's most dangerous criminal. But by the end of the film, it's made perfectly clear that nobody really cares about Arthur, just the Joker. It's likely Arthur's awareness of this fact that compels him to fully and truly become the Monster Clown he was destined to be. This is cemented during the climax of the film. After a tearful outburst, Arthur shoots Murray in the head in cold blood, looking momentarily stunned by his own actions, which quickly changes to a content smile as he accepts that he enjoyed what he did.
- Took a Level in Badass: Look at how shy, uncomfortable and introverted he is as Arthur, in stark contrast with how suave and confident he is as the Joker.
- Tragic Villain: At the end of it all, Arthur Fleck is just somebody who wants to bring joy to the world, to be noticed, and live a life that matters to somebody. The real tragedy is that, by the end of the story, it's clear that nobody cares about Arthur Fleck... just the sick persona that he created.
- Tranquil Fury: Enters a chilling example of this prior to killing Murray:Murray: Not everybody, and I'll tell you this, not everybody is awful.
Joker: ...You're awful, Murray.
Murray: Me? I'm awful? Oh, yeah, how am I awful?
Joker: Playing my video. Inviting me on the show. You just wanted to make fun of me. You're just like the rest of them.
- Unreliable Narrator: Partway through the movie, it becomes clear that Arthur's grasp on reality has become so tenuous that it may be confusing which parts of the movie are and aren't taking place in his head.
- The Unsmile: In particularly strenuous situations, Arthur's stepford smiles grow more twisted and gnarled. The first scene in the film depicts him forcing his lips into a smile, with a single tear drooping down his eye.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: His actions in the subway unintentionally serve as the catalyst for a city-wide protest movement, a full-blown riot, and the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
- Villain Protagonist: The film is an origin story for The Joker, albeit one that definitely doesn't follow his usual/canonical transformation.
- Villain Song: When Arthur is incarcerated at the end, he eerily sings a bit of Frank Sinatra's "That's Life", the song that closes the film. The lyrics sum up pretty much everything about his character.Arthur: That's life, as funny as it may seem. Some people get their kicks stomping on a dream. But I don't let it, let it get me down. 'Cause this fine old world, it keeps spinnin' around.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: It is shown that Arthur is looking for a father figure in his life for some sort of approval. He imagines a pat on the back from Murray that he is the son he always wanted. He confronts Thomas Wayne, believing him to be his father, and tearfully asks that he acknowledge him, stating that he doesn't want any money from him. He is met with cold rebuttal from both, beginning his descent to evil.
- What You Are in the Dark: A darker version of this. Arthur Fleck is a good man who works hard, loves his mother, is understanding of those around him, and tries to make the best of his life despite all his disabilities. Arthur's virtues are never acknowledged or even noticed by society because of his poverty and mental illness, all while the privileged elites like Thomas Wayne are lauded as saviors of Gotham. It didn't matter how good of a man Arthur was to the world since no one noticed or cared.
- When He Smiles: Played With. Arthur smiles as much as he can, but it becomes especially clear later on that almost none of his smiles are really genuine. The only times he does genuinely smile, are when he's hallucinating with Sophie, when he's having fun with his mother, or, when he decides to finally become Joker.
- Who's Laughing Now?: Once Arthur fully transitions into the Joker, the Butt-Monkey trope gets flipped on its head. And has its neck snapped in the process.
- Will Not Be a Victim: The impetus for Arthur's transformation into the Joker is his refusal to continue letting society step all over him. By the end, however, it's clear he's taken things way too far.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: At his core, Arthur is a troubled man who craves meaningful relationships with others, is desperate for validation, and ultimately just wants to spread happiness to the world and make people laugh. His poor standing in a harsh society is worsened by his degrading mental state, and by the end of all the trauma he endures, he becomes a soulless shell of his former self, who only finds joy and humor in nihilistic destruction.
Played by: Frances Conroy, Hannah Gross (young)
Dubbed by: Anne Rochant (European French)
Arthur's weak mother who used to work for Thomas Wayne.
- Abusive Parents: As it turns out, she physically abused Arthur during his childhood to the point prior to her incarceration to Arkham Mental Hospital decades ago. She handcuffed him to a radiator and let her boyfriend abuse him as well. However, as listed under Ambiguously Evil, there are more than enough holes in this narrative to put this into question.
- Affectionate Nickname: Calls her son "Happy".
- Ambiguous Disorder: Regardless of her psychiatric records from Arkham Asylum were fake or not, there are still some signs that Penny may actually have narcissistic personality disorder and delusional psychosis like the same papers suggest. The most obvious sign is her obsession with Thomas Wayne. She believes that not only is he Arthur's father, he will actually give them financial aid if she asks simply because "they're family". Believing to be deeply connected to a famous person is common in delusional disorders, while her assumptions of being given money because of their past relationship and Lack of Empathy are some of the symptoms in narcissistic personality disorder.
- Ambiguously Evil: The records at Arkham Asylum say that she's delusional and narcissistic, that she adopted Arthur, who was actually an abandoned child, abused him, and eventually claimed that he was the result of a tryst between herself and her employer, Thomas Wayne. And yet... she never shows any signs of poor mental health outside of a single Imagine Spot from Arthur, as he reads those same records. Arthur doesn't seem to have any memory of the abuse purported to have been inflicted upon him (although he was supposedly very young when it occurred) and no effort appears to have been made in removing him from her and placing him with a more supportive family. Whether Penny truly was the mentally unwell abusive mother the records say and her subsequent, more subdued state is a result of her treatment at Arkham or whether Thomas Wayne used his wealth and influence to falsify the records in order to bury the affair and discredit Penny is left ambiguous. Muddying the waters further, Arthur later picks up a photo of her with a note complimenting her smile scrawled on the back, signed by "T.W."
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: If Arthur's understanding of events is correct, Penny was a crazy, ill-fitted mother in her youth. While it's vague if she changed by the time of the film (as she appeared to have mellowed), what appear to be her aforementioned flaws directly lead to Arthur's Sanity Slippage into the Joker.
- Canon Foreigner: She doesn't exist, along with the Fleck family name, in any previous DC comics or related media.
- Changeling Fantasy: Believes she and Thomas Wayne were lovers and Arthur is their love child. She also refuses to believe she abused her son or let him be beaten. However, it's also theoretically possible that this was all a fake cover story by Thomas Wayne to discredit her.
- Create Your Own Villain: Discovering through her old Arkham files that she had abused and neglected him in his youth, an infuriated Arthur smothers her to death with a pillow, before becoming the biggest menace of Gotham.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Subverted. Arthur loves her before he goes off the deep end.
- I Was Quite a Looker: A flashback to her being in Arkham for abusing and starving Arthur 30 years ago reveals she was an attractive woman once, even with her black eye and various injuries.
- Lack of Empathy: According to her psychiatric files; in addition to letting her boyfriend handcuff her son to a radiator and beat him, she's not particularly supportive of her son when it comes to job opportunities. When Arthur tells her that he's going to be a standup comedian, her response is "But don't you have to be funny for that?"
- Lonely Funeral: After Arthur kills her in the hospital, he's the only one to show for her funeral days afterward in a deleted scene.
- The Mentally Disturbed: Was a diagnosed narcissist and delusional person.
- Narcissist: It's stated by her psychiatric file that she has narcissistic personality disorder, but it's not a hundred-percent clear if it's true.
- Unreliable Expositor: It's left ambiguous whether she's telling the entire truth about her past with Thomas Wayne, she's really just crazy and abusive, or both.
- Vorpal Pillow: While still in a coma following a stroke, Arthur smothers her with a pillow, blaming her for his insanity.
Played by: Robert De Niro
Dubbed by: Jacques Frantz (European French)
- "And finally, in a world where everyone thinks they could do my job, here's a guy who thinks if you just keep laughing, it'll somehow make you funny. Check out this joker."
A talk show host who plays a big role in Arthur's downfall.
- Ambiguous Situation: It's never made clear if he personally sought to make fun of Arthur's performance and later invite him onto the show as a follow-up, or if his producers made that call and he had to play along as part of the job. His Mean Character, Nice Actor moments suggest that it's not entirely cut-and-dry as Arthur thinks it is.
- Boom, Headshot!: How he bites it, courtesy of Arthur.
- Broken Pedestal: Arthur adores him until Murray makes fun of him on his Talk Show.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Before they begin the show, Arthur asks if he could be introduced as Joker and the reason for this is because Murray called him this in the episode that he poked fun at his Pogo's video. Despite this, Murray didn't seem to really remember doing this.
- Canon Foreigner: Like most characters in the film, he is not from the comics. Though he does resemble the David Letterman type talk show host David Endocrine from The Dark Knight Returns.
- Deadpan Snarker: His brand of comedy is mostly snide deliveries.
- Everyone Has Standards: He doesn't want people joking about sensitive topics such as death and recent tragedies on his show, and he doesn't allow swearwords on air.
- Expy: Of Jerry Lewis's character from The King of Comedy (which notably also starred De Niro) from which Joker takes a lot of inspiration.
- Foil: To Arthur. Both are associated with humor (Arthur is a party clown and stand-up comedian, while Murray is a late night comedy show host). Murray is a tremendously successful host who is perfectly mentally stable (if not a bit of a jerk), meanwhile Arthur is a deeply mentally disturbed nobody who loses what remaining sanity he has due to his horrible misfortunes.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: His tendency to make fun of others as his style of humour is ultimately what leads to his own demise, especially at the end, when it's strongly implied that Arthur was just about to kill himself as the punchline of a morbid knock-knock joke as he had planned, until Murray makes a snarky remark about how Arthur had to pull out a joke book just to remind himself how to start a "knock knock" joke, at which point Arthur's plan switches from suicide to murder.
- Hypocrite: Tells Arthur that his views on people being all bad are wrong, but he humiliated Arthur on national television, showing the video of Arthurs standup to his audience for the purpose of laughing at him. It never even seems to occur to him what a mean-spirited thing this was to do to somebody.
- Innocently Insensitive: It's very possible he thought his jokes about Arthur's stand-up routine were just harmless teasing considering that he invited Arthur onto the show and seemed to be rather polite and decent to him when first meeting him in person, not realizing that he emotionally hurt Arthur.
- Jerkass Has a Point: While Joker is in the middle of his confession/rant, Murray points out that Arthur's terrible life experience is absolutely no excuse for cold-blooded murder. He also explains that not everyone is as horrible as the Joker says that they are. It doesn't end well for him.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He mocks Arthur's stand-up material on his show, but is quite polite to him in person, and is visibly disturbed when Arthur confesses to all his crimes.
- Kick the Dog : Even if Arthur's stand-up material wasn't the best, showing an new comedian's demo reel on national television just to mock their performance is a dick move.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: In spite of making fun of Arthur on national television, he's shown to be pretty understanding off-camera when he and Arthur finally talk in person. Arthur doesn't buy it, to tragic results. Murray's stage persona isn't even that mean — he is just making snarky remarks.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Johnny Carson, right down to a carbon copy of the curtains from The Tonight Show. A little bit of Jon Stewart is thrown in there for extra measure, as well.
- Only Sane Man: Once he realises that the Joker is serious when he brags about killing people for increasingly petty slights, Murray calmly yet sternly condemns his attitude, pointing out how no matter how rough Arthur had it, he can't play the victim once he starts harming others.
- Parental Substitute: Subverted. One early scene, quickly revealed to be one of Arthur's hallucinations, has Murray inviting him on stage and praising him for being "special", as well as wishing he had a son like him. When Joker goes to his show for real, he displays none of those traits.
- Show Within a Show: The host of a Talk Show that Arthur watches.
- Too Dumb to Live: He continues to antagonize Arthur even after he's revealed that he's killed at least three people, doesn't regret it, and now has nothing to lose. Unsurprisingly, Arthur doesn't take these comments sitting down and blows Murray's brains out.
- Two First Names: Murray and Franklin.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Making fun of Arthur's comedy act on his talk show plays a significant role in his turn to villainy.
Played by: Zazie Beetz
Dubbed by: Fily Keita (European French)
A cynical single mother and neighbor of Arthur, whom he is attracted to.
- Adult Fear: It turns out Sophie has never been involved with Arthur and is clearly creeped out by her neighbour entering her house without her permission and sitting menacingly on her couch. Her Uncertain Doom, described below, certainly doesn't help.
- Birds of a Feather: Subverted. A big part of why Arthur fixates on her so much seems to be a belief that she shares his cynical view of the world, as she mimes shooting herself after complaining about the building's crappy elevator, and seems to respond positively to Arthur echoing the act. In reality, she and Arthur do not interact after the elevator, aside from the latter's breaking into her apartment late in the film.
- Canon Foreigner: She's a film exclusive character.
- Fourth Date Marriage: After literally two conversations with Arthur, he barges into her apartment in the middle of the night to make love to her. She responds affirmatively, and begins a relationship with him. It's a pretty obvious sign he's hallucinating the whole thing.
- Nice Girl: One of the few characters to treat Arthur well and even reciprocate his affections. Though that last part happens only in his head, her actual interactions with him are amiable. Even when fearing for her life when he enters her apartment unnanounced, she calmly asks him to leave.
- The Reveal: It turns out that in one of the many cases of Trailers Always Lie, we were led to believe that she'd become his love interest and one of the lynchpins to his madness. The truth is that Sophie and Arthur only had one interaction; the rest of the film is him fantasizing about them having a relationship.
- Stalking Is Love: Downplayed, as she simply understands that the obviously mentally ill Arthur meant no harm by following her, and agrees to see his stand-up routine. In reality, she had no idea he was following her.
- Struggling Single Mother: She lives in the same crappy building as the Flecks, takes care of a little girl and tries to make ends meet.
- Uncertain Doom: The last time we see Sophie, she's alone with Arthur and clearly fearing for her life. In the next shot, Arthur is walking out of her apartment with a smile on his face. It doesn't help that when Arthur returns to his apartment, sirens can be heard in the background, and loud shouting can be overheard. Her ultimate fate seems to be up to interpretation, most likely a Gory Discretion Shot.
Played by: Glenn Fleshler
Dubbed by: Pascal Casanova (European French)
A clown and colleague of Arthur.
- Asshole Victim: He picks on Gary for being short and got Arthur in trouble, so it should come as no shock that he'd be on Arthur's kill-list.
- Dumbass Has a Point: Giving a gun to Arthur was extremely dumb, but it's hard to argue Arthur doesn't need something to protect himself when he's been the target of pointless beatdowns just for dressing as a clown, twice, and street violence seems particularly bad in general in Gotham City.
- Eye Scream: Arthur kills him by planting a pair of scissors in his eye.
- False Friend: Randall, rather understandably given the economic situation in Gotham, is willing to do anything to keep his job. He views Arthur as a colleague, but not one who's worth losing his own job over.
- Randall says that he's giving a free revolver to Arthur to protect himself with, while subtly implying he expects some kind of "favor" in return. When Arthur's gun is discovered during his hospital performance, Randall then tells their boss that Arthur kept trying to buy a gun off of Randall, which serves as the final straw for Arthur's termination.
- When he and Gary visits Arthur's apartment to express their condolences for Penny's recent death, Randall reveals that the police have been asking everyone at their workplace about the subway clown murders, and Randall has been telling them about Arthur's recent conduct... causing Gary to respond in confusion that he wasn't asked, implying that Randall was throwing Arthur under the bus again, this time for the murders. Randall's totally right for doing so, since Arthur did kill those three men in the subway, but he has no way of knowing that to be the case. This revelation causes Arthur to abruptly kill Randall mid-conversation.
- Toxic Friend Influence: Gives Arthur a gun supposedly for 'protection' despite not being allowed to have one as a mental patient.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Causing Arthur to get fired and have a weapon is a major part in the creation of Joker.
Played by: Leigh Gill
Dubbed by: Henry David Cohen (European French)
A dwarf coworker of Arthur and Randall.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: When Gary and Randall visit Arthur after Penny's death, Arthur brutally murders Randall because Randall threw him under the bus, but lets Gary go because Gary was the only one that didn't treat Arthur badly, even though Gary was a witness to Randall's brutal murder. However, it's also implied that Arthur sympathized with Gary for being ostracized for having an abnormal quality he couldn't control, like him (Gary's height, and Arthur's mental issues).
- Good Counterpart: Becomes one for Arthur. Both were entertainers for hire who have to deal with setbacks that are beyond their control (Arthur's mental instability and Gary's dwarfism) and Randall's jerkass behaviour, but Gary manages to keep it together.
- Never Heard That One Before: Reacts to the mocking short jokes of his coworkers with an angry look on his face, likely due to a lifetime of receiving mockery for his height.
- Nice Guy: He has never done anything dirty or mean to Arthur which ends up saving his life when Arthur spares him after killing Randall.
Played by: Sharon Washington
- "This is the last time we'll be meeting."
A social worker who's in charge of checking Arthur.
- Hidden Depths: At first she seems like a simple inadequate social worker who just doesn't care about her job or her patients. However, during their last meeting, she has a moment of sincerely where she admits that the system doesn't care about her or people like Arthur, expressing pity and clarity on the kind of place Gotham City is.
- One Steve Limit: Canonically, Martha Wayne's maiden name is Kane as well, and she appears in the film, albeit briefly.
- There Are No Therapists: More like "there are no more therapists". She's forced to stop working with Arthur due to public funding cuts. Not that she did that well of a job as Arthur points out she just repeats the same questions. On the other hand, this is also the point of some therapy sessions. They ask the same questions over and over to hammer in the point that, hey, you should be getting plenty of sleep, take pride in your work, take your medicine consistently, etc. After all, she's a social worker, not a psychologist. She's not there to work through Arthur's deeper issues (nor is she qualified for that), but for him to vent to and keep him on track. And look at all the documents stucked in her office. Just think of all the cases she probably has to attend.
- Tuckerization: She's named after Bob Kane, Batman's (and the Joker's) co-creator.
Played by: Brett Cullen
Dubbed by: Jean-Louis Faure (European French)
- "What kind of coward would do something that cold-blooded? Someone who hides behind a mask?!"
A billionaire running for mayor of Gotham City.
- Adaptational Jerkass: While not an outright villain, this version of Thomas Wayne is presented as being more callous and elitist rather than his usual portrayal of being an upstanding moral citizen in a decaying city. Though in the case of his interaction with Arthur at the movie theater, his behavior is justified seeing as Arthur randomly grabbed his son and tried to strangle Alfred earlier.
- Age Lift: This version of Thomas is already past middle-age during his son's childhood. The fact that he's old enough to have fathered someone in their thirties is a major plot point.
- Ambiguously Evil: Despite the film's unsympathetic portrayal of him and being made out as a Adaptational Jerkass, Thomas is not really an outright villain, while the hints of him being such a Slimeball Upper-Class Twit are only implied. Penny claims that Arthur is his illegitimate son, while he (and Arkham Asylum's records) insists she was delusional; however, whether she was actually mentally unwell or whether this was an attempt by Thomas to use his wealth and influence to bury a tryst with a lower-class woman is never authoritatively stated one way or the other. Muddying the waters further, Arthur later picks up a old photo of his mother, with a note complimenting her smile scrawled on the back, signed by "T.W."
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Subverted. It's assumed that he never writes back to Penny no matter how many letters she sends him because he's very busy, but when pressed about it it turns out he does remember her quite vividly and not in a good way.
- Condescending Compassion: Thomas is an elitist, but he's still making an attempt to improve Gotham City by reducing the crime rate and help the lower class.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Thomas is an elitist and the head of Wanye Enterprises who is hinted to be this, but it was never clearly confirmed.
- Dies Differently in Adaptation: The Waynes still get shot, but by a clown-mask wearing attacker this time (who may or may not be Joe Chill), and they are not mugged for money and Martha's pearl collar this time around.
- Dramatic Irony: At one point refers to people who "hide behind masks" as cowards. He also tells Arthur "Touch my son again and I'll kill you." Oh Thomas, if you only knew.
- Foregone Conclusion: Anybody who knows Batman lore knows the fate of Thomas and Martha Wayne. The question is simply who pulls the trigger this time, and in this case it's a clown rioter who got galvanized by Joker's murder of Murray Franklin.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Sure, he may have insulted Penny that prompted Arthur to come to her defense, but following The Reveal about her as an Abusive Parent, Thomas may have been telling an Accidental Truth and Right for the Wrong Reasons about her and his insult turns out to be a Kick the Son of a Bitch move. Also, he has every reason to go all Papa Wolf on Arthur after learning about his encounter with Bruce and how Arthur had attempted to strangle his butler Alfred Pennyworth at the gate of Wayne Manor especially the city they live in where any suspicious and sketchy character is likely to come up on a regular basis.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Even after undergoing Adaptational Jerkass and being implied to be a Slimeball, Thomas still loves his wife Martha and his son Bruce very much, even going so far to go Papa Wolf on Arthur for harassing Bruce at Wayne Manor. Also, he's running for mayor to help Gotham City and give support to the lower class suffering there.
- Luke, You Are My Father: Arthur tells him that he's his illegitimate son from Penny. Thomas explains that she was delusional, and as we later learn, Penny adopted Arthur.
- Mythology Gag: He and Martha are killed in 1981, much like in the DC Extended Universe.
- Papa Wolf: Is shown to be very protective of his son, by punching Arthur for harassing Bruce at their home and promises to kill him if he ever goes near Wayne Manor again.
- Poor Communication Kills: If he had simply used wording that wasn't blatantly insulting towards the people he was supposedly trying to help, there's a good chance that many people, including himself and his wife, might still be alive.
- Upper-Class Twit: Thomas is portrayed as an elitist while also rich.
Played by: Dante Pereira-Olson
The young son of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
- Adaptation Origin Connection: Like Tim Burton's Batman, Joker is responsible for the death of his parents — this time indirectly rather than directly. As such, it seems likely that Joker ended up making the Batman once again.
- Blood-Spattered Innocents: His own mother's blood sprinkles onto his face after she's shot down in the alley.
- Cain and Abel: Assuming that Arthur's mother wasn't lying (which is unlikely), Arthur is his half-brother, and the city-wide riot in his name gets Bruce's parents killed.
- Children Are Innocent: He doesn't go through the traumatic experience that turned him into the Batman until the very end of the film. Also, Thomas and Martha clearly haven't told him not to talk to strangers.
- Create Your Own Hero: By inspiring his followers to go on a rampage in Gotham, Arthur set the stage for a young Bruce Wayne to become the Batman when his parents are murdered in front of him.
- Creepy Child: Courtesy of the fact that nothing phases him. Not an obviously mentally ill man sticking his fingers in the kid's mouth, not his butler getting strangled. It's only when his parents are brutally gunned down in front of him that anything can get him to express any emotion whatsoever. He reacts with shock and we can see him kneeling in shock in the alley where their corpses are, though it is minimal. Seems this version of Bruce has always been The Stoic.
- Demoted to Extra: Since this is the Joker's story and not Batman's, Bruce is only a bit part here. We still get to see the major catalyzer of his origin story, but not until the final act.
- The Stoic: True to form, nothing seems to faze him. Even the murder of his own parents. He doesn't break down into tears or scream in devastation like in previous versions. He is simply shocked from the inside.
- Young Future Famous People: In his adulthood, he will become a renowned philanthropist among Gothamites by day, and a fearsome vigilante among criminals by night.
Martha Wayne, née Kane
Played by: Carrie Louise Putrello
The wife of Thomas Wayne and the mother of Bruce.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: She's blonde instead of the usual brunette.
- Dies Differently in Adaptation: The Waynes still get shot, but this time the attacker (who may or may not be Joe Chill) wears a clown mask, and they are not mugged for money and her pearl collar this time around.
- Iconic Item: Her pearl necklace, which is obviously present in her death scene.
- Mythology Gag: She and Thomas are killed in 1981, much like in the DC Extended Universe.
- Ripping Off the String of Pearls: Once again, Martha's pearl collar gets broken in slow motion during her murder. Only this time the attacker seems to voluntarily break it, just for the sake of it.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Probably the version of Martha with the smallest amount of screentime before getting killed. The Waynes get out of the movie theater, enter the alley behind it and get shot, and unlike Thomas she didn't have any other scene in the film.
Played by: Douglas Hodge
The Waynes' attendant.
- Adaptational Wimp: In other versions of the Batman mythos, Alfred is an ex-SAS soldier or a former bodyguard, can handle stressful situations and deal with mentally unstable people, and, at the very least, is talented in basic self-defense. Here, a malnourished, near-skeletal man almost chokes him to death through a metal gate.
- Age Lift: He's much younger than most typical depictions of him. Justified on the account of Bruce still being a child.
- The Jeeves: Once again, the loyal British butler to the Wayne family. However, this time he is clearly not as level-headed as before and is visibly wary of Arthur. Justified, since he's a clearly unwell stranger touching the child Alfred takes care of.
- Jerkass Has a Point: He is immediately confrontational towards Arthur, but is justified as he is a creepy stranger. Also, Alfred could be correct in calling Penny delusional and mentally ill, therefore being a Kick the Son of a Bitch move, especially the revelation of her being an Abusive Parent.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He maybe was confrontational with Arthur, only because he deeply cares for Bruce and doesn't want any harm come to him.
- The Mean Brit: Only towards Arthur though out of care for Bruce.
- Papa Wolf: He is very protective of Bruce.
Detective Garrity and Detective Burke
Played by: Bill Camp (Garrity) and Shea Whigham (Burke)
Dubbed by: Paul Borne and Bruno Choël (European French)
Two GCPD Detectives who investigate the murder of the three Wayne Enterprises businessmen in the subway.
- Accidental Murder: Burke accidentally shoots a rioter dead, a shot meant for Arthur.
- Canon Foreigner: Garrity doesn't exist in the comics or any previous Batman lore adaptation. However, there is a Detective Thomas Burke, who was introduced in Detective Comics #748.
- Fat and Skinny: Garrity (Fat) and Burke (Skinny).
- Hero Antagonists: Two police officers who investigate the subway murders and end up chasing the man who committed them and happens to be the story's Villain Protagonist.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: They're on the receiving end of one when Burke accidentally shoots a rioter dead, sparking an entire mob of clowns to pounce them like a pack of wolves. The last time we hear of them, they're said to be in critical condition.
- Police Brutality: Burke shoots one of the rioters accidentally, but taking his gun out in a crowded subway while chasing a suspect with no weapon drawn showcases a certain amount of trigger-happiness.
- Those Two Guys: They're always seen together.
The Wall Street Three
Played by: Carl Lundstedt, Michael Benz, Ben Warheit
Three young Wayne Enterprises businessmen who start mocking and beating Arthur up onboard a subway train.
- Asshole Victim: They all bully and beat Arthur up for being dressed in his clown costume and laughing uncontrollably. Who in turn, ends up killing all of them. They also are aggressive towards a lone woman on the train before Arthur inadvertly draws their attention.
- The Bullies: They first harass a female passenger before Arthur's uncontrollable fits of laughing and clown attire attract their attention and cause them to mock and assault him.
- Bullying a Dragon: They don't know that Arthur carries a gun until it's too late, and all end up dead.
- Dirty Coward: They pick on loners who don't fick back but after two of his mates were shot and killed by Arthur, the last one attempted to make run for it while still pathetically limping from the initial gunshot wound. He doesn't get far and Arthur catches up with him to kill him too.
- Hate Sink: Theyre presented as rich, drunken, women-harassing scumbags to keep Arthur likable and sympathetic in comparison when he kills them.
- Jerkass: None of them show any redeeming qualities.
- No Name Given: They're simply credited as "Wall Street Three".
- Small Role, Big Impact: Their harassing of Arthur leads to him killing all three of them, not only beginning his transformation into the Joker but also sparks an uprising of rioters in clown masks.
- Upper-Class Twit: Three yuppies belonging to the upper class of Gotham, and massive jerks at that.
- Wicked Cultured: One of them seems to be a fan of Barbra Streisand, as he sings "Send In The Clowns" to Arthur prior to beating him up.
Played by: ???
A clown-masked rioter who pulls the trigger on the Waynes.
- Adaptation Origin Connection: It's implied that Joker's riot galvanized him to murder Thomas and Martha Wayne.
- Create Your Own Hero: His murder of Bruce Wayne's parents would inspire Bruce to become one of Gotham's most feared vigilantes.
- Eat the Rich: Implied, given the film's climax, which involves a massive riot against Gotham's elite, and the Waynes happen to be part of it...
- Greed: Completely and utterly averted, unlike most incarnations of the character. He guns down the Waynes to send a message, and goes out of his way to deliberately shatter Martha's pearl necklace instead of stealing it.
- Named by the Adaptation: Inverted. His name should be Joe Chill if source material and most adaptations are taken into account but the film made him a No Name Given character.
- No Name Given: His name is never stated.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "You get what you fucking deserve!"
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: He shoots Thomas and Martha Wayne down in cold blood, but spares Bruce.