Like Marvel, DC is famous for hiding many secret nods, sneaky references and cryptic details within its movies. The latest film to do so and explore one of its many infamous characters, is Joker, dubbed one of the most successful movies of all time. The dark and gritty tale had fans emitting crazy cackles and sinister smiles, especially when noticing some of its most awesome Easter Eggs.
If you were one of the many to miss them, have no fear – we’ve managed to look beyond that iconic clown smile and hunt down 17 Joker Easter Eggs, from references to Batman movies and hidden cameos you probably never saw coming…
1. Gaggy the Clown
This might seem a little far-fetched, but it also might be more than just a coincidence. Remember that disturbing scene when Arthur sadistically kills his pal, Randall? Perhaps he let Gary run free for a reason. As mentioned in our list of Joker facts, the killer clown’s first sidekick was a small “midget” clown named Gagsworth, also known as Gaggy the Clown. Could Gary be the future Gaggy? Or is it just a fluke?
2. The Dark Knight Returns
A clear and almost definite reference to DC Comics was the scene when Joker kills Murray Franklin live on television. In “The Dark Knight Returns”, Joker attends a late night talk show hosted by David Endocrine, only to end the night in bloodshed and disaster. He murders the entire crew and audience with poisonous gas before escaping, similarly to how Arthur killed Murray in Joker.
3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
It first seemed that Joker didn’t tie in with any other DC movie out there – until we noticed this sneaky little Easter Egg. Look closely at the film poster on the cinema that the Waynes family leave from at the end of the movie – it’s the 1981 movie, Excalibur. Coincidentally (or not), this movie also appeared on the cinema marquee just before the Waynes’ death in in Batman v Superman.
4. The Credits on TV
During the scene when Arthur dances with his mother in their living room, a hidden homage to the movie’s cast and crew can be noticed by some. On the television screen, a few of the film’s crew names are included in the credits of the show they’re watching. These include Ben Gatollari (assistant production coordinator) and Will Limpert (production secretary).
5. Brett Cullen
Saw Brett Cullen in Joker and got confused? He did star in The Dark Knight Rises, after all. But this was probably just a fun way to connect the two movies together. Brett Cullen played Thomas Wayne in this mega-movie, but he also played U.S. congressman, Byron Gilley, in The Dark Knight Rises. Cheeky, Todd, cheeky.
6. Heath Ledger
It was difficult not to compare Joaquin Pheonix’s performance to Heath Ledger’s Joker throughout this movie. Not only did he have similar hair and act just like Heath (AKA the best Joker actor ever!), there were several instances in this film that were a clear nod to the late actor’s performance:
- Arthur’s boss says that people think he’s a “freak” – this mirrors the moment Heath Ledger’s Joker tells Batman, “To them you’re just a freak…like me.”
- Arthur writes “Put on a happy face”, similarly to how Heath’s Joker says, “Let’s put a smile on that face.”
- The “Ace in the Hole” billboard could be a reference to Heath’s Joker calling Harvey Dent his “ace in the hole.”
- The moment when Arthur dresses as a clown in a doctor’s outfit is a call back to Heath’s Joker also wearing a nurse’s outfit
7. The Riddler
Yet another Easter Egg in Joker that might be a little questionable, but fun to say the least. During the scene when Arthur takes the elevator in Arkham State Hospital, a secret nod to The Riddler can be seen. Painted on the wall behind him is a question mark – the supervillain’s visual motif. Are The Riddler and The Joker living in the same universe?
8. Arkham State Hospital
Batman’s most loyal fans would know that Arkham Asylum plays a pivotal role throughout his lore. It does after all, house his craziest foes. Joker gave slight reference to this setting, but named it Arkham State Hospital, instead.
9. Debra Kane
Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed this Joker Easter Egg for Batman’s co-creator, Bob Kane. The social worker who speaks with Arthur during the movie is in fact named “Debra Kane”, as seen by her name-badge. How does this relate to The Joker, you might ask? Bob Kane famously collaborated with artist, Jerry Robinson to create the Clown Prince of Crime over 60 years ago.
10. Zorro the Gay Blade
It’s evident that the Joker takes place in 1981 due to the many movies featured on marquees in the film. One including, Zorro the Gay Blade, which has more significance than it being released in ’81. In the comics, it turns out Bruce Wayne’s parents are killed after watching The Mark of Zorro.
11. Arkham Clerk
A little DC and Marvel connection is always fun for us superhero nerds. The actor who played the Arkham clerk whom Arthur was trying to steal his mother’s documents from, is the same dude who voiced Miles Morales’s dad, Jefferson Davis, in the Spider-Man movie, Into the Spider-Verse.
12. Charlie Chaplin
You might have noticed Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 comedy, Modern Times playing in a particular scene during Joker. Well, this wasn’t just a random film placed inside this movie. Modern Times actually covers themes of unemployment and poor working conditions during the post-Depression era, a clear reference to the story unfolding in Joker. It also tells the story of man who struggles to keep up with the times, and later imprisons himself. Ironically, an Arkham State Hospital employee tells Arthur Fleck that people sometimes admit themselves into the hospital when they have nowhere else to go. And that is indeed where Arthur ends up by the end of the movie.
13. Justin Theroux
A random appearance, but cool, nonetheless. Indeed, Justin Theroux makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in Joker. He plays Ethan Chase, a guest who appears on the Murray Franklin show that Arthur so attentively watches and tries to mimic.
14. Detective Burke
Here’s yet another Joker Easter Egg that references a character in 2000’s Detective Comics No. 748. Detective Burke who chases down Arthur in the movie happens to be the same person as “Detective Thomas Burke” in the comics.
15. Alfred Pennyworth
True Batman geeks would have recognized Alfred Pennyworth’s cameo in the movie. Not a difficult Easter Egg to miss, but yes, in case you were wondering, he was the British dude who caught Arthur pestering young Bruce Wayne outside his home.
16. Dante Pereira-Olson
Young Bruce Wayne had more importance than you thought. In fact, Dante Pereira-Olson, the actor who played mini-Batman, is the same kid who played a young Joaquin Phoenix in the 2017 movie, You Were Never Really Here. Oh, how we love these hidden connections!
17. Robert De Niro
It’s a shame we had to see Robert De Niro’s funny character go in this movie, but the actor’s role had quite significance throughout. In fact, Robert has played a similar role to Murray Franklin in the past – Rupert Pupkin in Martin Scorsese’s 1982 film, The King of Comedy. That’s not all. Arthur was clearly inspired by Robert’s character, Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver – most particularly the scene where he plays with his gun in his apartment.
The Joker clearly had the last laugh after managing to hide these juicy Easter Eggs throughout his movie. Which ones did you already spot? Were there any DC references we missed? Let us know in the comments below…
Want more hidden references and sneaky details from the world of DC? Check out these awesome Batman Easter Eggs, and let us know if you spotted them already!