Here are five of our favorite Easter eggs from “Joker”:
The movie marquees in “Joker” feature such titles as “Blow Out” and “Zorro: The Gay Blade,” which would seem to place the exact year of the film’s setting as 1981. “Zorro” is also often said to be the last film that Bruce Wayne’s parents see before being murdered in Crime Alley — and it stars a character who dons a mask and cape much like Batman’s.
2. “The King of Comedy” prep
The film’s references to “The King of Comedy” are so numerous that Martin Scorsese’s ’80s masterpiece is part of “Joker’s” very DNA. (At one point, Scorsese was attached to even help produce “Joker.”) One of the most appealing visual quotes is when “Joker” star Joaquin Phoenix, as loner Arthur Fleck, mimics how to stride from behind the curtain and into the spotlight as a talk-show guest. Such rehearsal points to how meticulously Rupert Pupkin, the character played by Robert De Niro (also featured in “Joker”), has rehearsed his talk-show appearance in “King of Comedy.”
Arthur Fleck, who is desperate to discover his true parentage, visits Arkham State Hospital, which once held his mom (Frances Conroy). The name is a nod: Comics fans know Arkham Asylum as the site that houses many of the “criminally insane” enemies in Batman’s rogues’ gallery. On screen, Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy featured a breakout from Arkham.
4. That Kane name
Early in “Joker,” we first see Arthur visiting his health department social worker, Debra Kane (played by Sharon Washington) — an apparent reference to Batman co-creator Bob Kane. Infamously, he long denied full credit to the Caped Crusader’s crucial co-creator, Bill Finger. Interestingly, Debra Kane has to stop treating Arthur because of government cuts — perhaps a metaphor for Bob Kane leaving his partner out in the cold.
5. Comics who kill
The Phillips film owes much to “The Killing Joke,” the 1988 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, in which the Joker fails as a standup comedian; and Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s 1986 title “The Dark Knight Returns,” in which the Joker goes on a late-night talk show (a parody of David Letterman’s show) and unleashes his poison gas upon the host and studio audience. In “Joker,” De Niro plays the talk-show host who gets shot.