The Joker's Deleted Ending DC Fans Never Got to See
The Joker film released in 2019 was divisive among fans and critics but was received well enough that it became the first R-rated movie to hit $1 billion at the box office and got Joaquin Phoenix his first Oscar.
It was a standalone film – separate from the failing DCEU – which was part of the reason for its success. But there was a deleted scene that would have connected it to a past DC movie, one from long before the DCEU even existed.
Part of the allure of The Joker, especially on first watch, is the existence of the unreliable narrator. We see everything through Arthur Fleck's eyes, but at the end of the film, we realize a lot of it wasn't real.
The reactions to his stand-up, his relationship with Sophie – all of it was in his head. We also uncover some repressed memories, including the abuse at the hands of his deranged mother.
In the original screenplay, Arthur went into further detail about the trauma from his childhood. He was a victim of bullying due to his uncontrollable laughter, for which they nicknamed him "Happy." He eventually became so fed up with the bullies that he took a razor and carved a smile on the ends of his lips and asked the bullies, "How's this for happy?"
The original end of the film would bring this plotline full circle.
After the police car crashes at the end of the movie, Arthur would have escaped, grabbed a piece of broken glass, and gashes a deep smile into his cheeks.
That ending could have teed up the notion that Phoenix's version of the Joker was the same as Heath Ledger's in 2008's The Dark Knight – the one who popularized the saying, "You wanna know how I got these scars?"
It's likely that this was scrapped precisely because of that – they didn't want to give the implication that these were the same versions of the character. There would have been a lot of differences in characterization, so it wouldn't really have made that much sense. It would have simply been a really fun nod to Ledger's Oscar-winning portrayal.
The altered final cut still had a slight nod to the Joker's permanent smile: Fleck paints a smile across his cheeks with blood as he crawls out of the police car wreckage.
While the original ending was pretty wild, there was reportedly another one in the mix – one that involved Joker killing Bruce Wayne as a child, forever altering the character's arc.
As it stands, the Joker's ending was pretty close to perfect. Its sequel will drop in 2024 starring Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn.