The following post contains SPOILERS for Joker. Please don’t read it if you don’t want to know what happens in the film. Maybe don’t read it at all. That might be for the best.

Joker feels like a movie designed to stoke as many fan theories as possible. An unreliable narrator, entire relationships that are hallucinated, twists that might or might not be elaborate conspiracies; you can basically turn every major plot point into a theory if you are so inclined. If you’ve seen the movie, you probably saw most of these theories coming.

But you might have missed this one. Some fans want to argue that Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is not the guy who becomes Batman’s arch-nemesis down the line, because he is a lot older than Bruce Wayne in the film (who is still a child, while Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck is at least 30 years older than him). Instead, they claim this Joker might be a guy who inspired a copycat — and certainly in the movie we see him inspiring a lot of copycats in clown masks — who becomes the true Clown Prince of Crime who fights the Dark Knight.

The Los Angeles Times actually asked director Todd Phillips about this possibility, and he didn’t entirely dismiss it:

Maybe Joaquin’s character inspired the Joker. You don’t really know. His last line in the movie is, ‘You wouldn’t get it.’ There’s a lot going on in there that’s interesting.

This is probably a moot point, because unless they make a sequel to this Joker, we’re never going to see the events of this movie’s universe again, and it’s basically irrelevant whether this Joker is the Joker or not. But it’s an idea, I guess, that could be explored further in a sequel (which Phoenix now says he is at least open to considering).

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