Who Is Joker’s Father? His Mother Claims His Name Is Thomas Wayne
Warner Brothers' latest foray into the Batman universe, Joker, has finally arrived in theaters. The film has been a contentious release for months ahead of arrival. But whether or not you enjoy Joker, it does put a new spin on the famous arch-villain. It also proposes that the Joker and Batman's relationship is more twisted and connected than initially believed. Could the two characters be half-brothers? The mystery of who Joker’s father actually is hangs over much of the film. Warning: Spoilers for Joker follow.
When Joker opens, audiences find Arthur Fleck in his pre-Joker days, working as a clown to make children laugh and looking after his aging mother, Penny. Penny is obsessed with the mail, asking every day if there's a letter from her "former employer." She's written letter after letter asking for help and money. Why won't they answer?
It turns out the former employer is Thomas Wayne, the father of Bruce. In most Batman films, Thomas is a misty water-colored memory in the corner of Bruce's mind; a good man killed too soon. But that's not the Thomas presented here. From Arthur's POV, he's a smarmy politician, a rich idiot running for mayor, who insults and sneers at the downtrodden of Gotham.
And that's before he finds out Penny is writing to Thomas to beg for money, because Arthur is his son.
As Penny tells it, she and Thomas were in love, but he was married to a rich wife, and they had to hide their relationship. But when Arthur heads to Wayne manor and introduces himself to young Bruce and the butler Alfred, he gets a different story. Alfred says Penny did work there, but Arthur was an adopted child. But she was obsessed with Mr. Wayne, and eventually had to be locked away in Arkham Asylum.
So what is the truth? One might assume Thomas will turn out to be a cad, impregnating a servant, denying paternity, locking her up to make it go away, letting them starve. When Arthur finally confronts his supposed father, Thomas is unnerved, but insists he never had a relationship with Penny. He threatens Arthur never to come near Bruce again, or he'll kill him.
Arthur goes to Arkham to find out the truth, and uncovers a terrible reality. He was found nearly murdered as an infant, beaten by Penny who freaked out whenever he cried, which is why she was locked away. She tried to claim the "adoption" was cover to hide the child was Thomas', but the paperwork says otherwise.
No one knows who Arthur's father is, or his mother either. But one thing is sure, he's not related to Bruce. Whatever one thinks of Thomas as a politician, his threats were that of a terrified father, not a man trying to cover his misdeeds.
The truth sends Arthur spiraling. He murders his mother in a rage and begins to embrace his Joker persona outright. By the time the film ends, the riot Arthur sets off has claimed the lives of Thomas Wayne and his wife. It sets both himself and Bruce on an eventual collision course as Batman and Joker.