Joker Movie: 17 Easter Eggs And References You Might Have Missed

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Joker spoilers ahead!

The Clown Prince of Crime finally has his own, standalone film in the aptly-titled Joker, and the movie has officially arrived in theaters. And although it may not be your average comic book movie–the MCU, this is not–Joker still has plenty of Easter eggs and references that you might miss on your first viewing.

These range from nods to Batman history, to surprise cameos you may not have noticed, and beyond. So without further clowning around, here are the Easter eggs and references you might appreciate in Joker.

“Super Rats”

The “super rats” mentioned on the news don’t refer directly back to anything in Batman history, but given that Gotham is basically New York City, rats and Batman’s hometown go together like Joaquin Phoenix and getting way too into movie roles.

Beyond that, there’s a lesser-known Batman villain called Ratcatcher, and an episode of the 1960s TV show called “When The Rat’s Away, The Mice Will Play,” although it doesn’t seem like the episode actually had anything to do with rats.

1. “Super Rats”

The “super rats” mentioned on the news don’t refer directly back to anything in Batman history, but given that Gotham is basically New York City, rats and Batman’s hometown go together like Joaquin Phoenix and getting way too into movie roles.

Beyond that, there’s a lesser-known Batman villain called Ratcatcher, and an episode of the 1960s TV show called “When The Rat’s Away, The Mice Will Play,” although it doesn’t seem like the episode actually had anything to do with rats.

2. Murray Franklin

There’s more to Murray Franklin than meets the eye. The late night talk show host is played by Robert De Niro, the star of the Martin Scorsese movies (Taxi Driver, King of Comedy) that Joker director Todd Phillips pays homage to with this film. Even more significantly, Franklin is strikingly similar to the Jerry Lewis character De Niro played opposite in King of Comedy.

3. Who’s Laughing Now?

Arthur’s character bears more than a passing resemblance to De Niro’s character in The King of Comedy. In particular, Arthur’s tendency to imagine himself on the Murray Franklin show, chatting with the host and interacting with the audience, called De Niro’s Rupert Pupkin to mind. (Side note: If you haven’t seen The King of Comedy, fix that as soon as possible–it’s an excellent film.)

4. You Talkin’ To Me?

Arthur’s other clear influence is Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle, another mentally ill loner who lashes out violently. The scenes where Arthur is toying around with the gun in his apartment specifically resemble the similar scene in Taxi Driver that features the iconic line, “You talkin’ to me?”

5. Send in the Clowns

The song that the Wall Street guys sing to Arthur as they bully him on the train is “Send in the Clowns,” which was written by American composer Stephen Sondheim for the 1973 musical A Little Night Music.

6. Bryan Callen’s Cameo

You might recognize one of Arthur Fleck’s co-workers as Bryan Callen, a comedian who played Eddie in The Hangover, which was also directed by Todd Phillips. Callen said on the podcast The Fighter and The Kid that he plays an aging stripper in Joker, so his part may have originally been larger.

7. Young Bruce Wayne

Young Bruce Wayne–AKA Future Batman, not that a sequel is guaranteed or anything–is played in this movie by Dante Pereira-Olson. You might recognize the young actor if you’ve watched Joaquin Phoenix’s 2017 movie You Were Never Really Here, in which Pereira-Olson played the childhood version of Phoenix’s character.

8. Oh Hi Alfred

Batman’s perpetual butler, assistant, and confidant, Alfred Pennyworth, has a brief appearance in this movie as well. He’s played by Douglas Hodge, who you might recognize from his previous roles in Penny Dreadful, Black Mirror, Red Sparrow, Lost in Space, and more.

9. Detectives Garrity and Burke

Bill Camp and Shea Whigham’s characters, respectively detectives Garrity and Burke, have no direct analogs in Batman history. However, there is a detective Tommy Burke in the comics, who “is the comedian and ladies’ man of the Gotham City Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit,” according to his DC fandom wiki page. That doesn’t sound at all like Wigham’s character in Joker, so to be honest, knowing this movie, the name might actually be a coincidence.

10. Justin Theroux’s Cameo

As Arthur prepares for his appearance on the Murray Franklin show, he studies a tape featuring the appearance of a guest named Ethan Chase, on the show promoting something called American Playboy. Chase is actually played by Justin Theroux (The Leftovers, Maniac, Mulholland Drive) in a small but fun cameo.

11. Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times

The film playing at the event Arthur crashes in order to confront Thomas Wayne is Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, a 1936 comedy that was deemed “culturally significant” and preserved by the Library of Congress in the US National Film Registry in 1989. It’s a commentary on poor working conditions in the age of industrialization–themes relevant both to Joker as a movie, and to the real world in 2019.

12. All About That Paper Boi

The Arkham clerk who Arthur gets his mother’s records from is played by Brian Tyree Henry, who you might recognize as Paper Boi in Donald Glover’s FX show Atlanta–not to mention Miles Morales’s dad, Jefferson Davis, in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

13. In a White Room

The song “White Room” by the band Cream is featured in the movie, evoking obvious associations with the austere, padded rooms of mental hospitals like Arkham. That said, the rest of the lyrics–“In the white room with black curtains near the station,” etc.–don’t really have much to do with anything.

14. Marc Maron’s Role

We’ve known for some time that the G.L.O.W. star and host of popular podcast WTF with Marc Maron had a role in Joker, but his appearance in the movie was actually so quick that you might have missed it entirely. Maron appeared only in one scene, as Murray Franklin’s producer.

15. Zorro the Gay Blade

One of the movie references spotted toward the end of the film is Zorro the Gay Blade on the movie theater marquee. This is a real movie, considered a sequel to the 1940 film The Mark of Zorro. It was released by 20th Century Fox in 1981, which helps place the exact year in which Joker is set.

16. Arthur, Meet “Arthur”

You can also see a poster for the movie Arthur at the theater toward the end of the movie, another 1981 film, starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. Beyond the title, it doesn’t seem to have any relation with the movie Joker, besides placing it in a specific year.

17. “That’s Life”

Murray Franklin’s catchphrase is derived from the song, written by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon. The famous 1966 version by Frank Sinatra also plays during the movie. It’s a song about being down on your luck, but picking yourself back up, and having a sense of humor about your misfortune–which is undeniably appropriate for this film.

Source: Game Spot Mashup