“Joker Hid An Awesome Heath Ledger Dark Knight Easter Egg”
Joker had a lot of Easter eggs and references to the Batman universe, including a very interesting one related to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger. Todd Phillips’ Joker was one of the most anticipated films of 2019 and with good reason, as it’s a darker, more grounded look at Batman’s arch nemesis and one that successfully separated the character from the Dark Knight. Though the film was in the middle of controversy prior to its release, it all worked in its favor, and it became a big box office hit.
Joker offered yet another origin story for the Clown Prince of Crime, following failed stand-up comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) who turns to a life of crime after being constantly neglected by society. The film stayed away from Batman’s universe to focus more on Arthur’s journey, addressing themes like mental health, gun control, and the media’s influence on society. All eyes are on Joker once again thanks to the various nominations it has received during awards season, which has also prompted viewers to rewatch the film and pay closer attention to everything.
As mentioned above, Joker is packed with details referencing other characters in the Batman universe, and it included an Easter egg related to a previous version of the Joker, though it’s not an easy one to find.
Joker features a 1980s Gotham City that was broken: while there was a sector that enjoyed an expensive lifestyle (such as the Waynes), the majority of the city’s population was unemployed and impoverished, and the crime rate was on the rise. It’s a very different Gotham than the one seen in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, but the designers team behind Joker made sure to add one detail that subtly connects both versions. The design of the back of the ambulances makes up the face of the Joker, though it’s a look that’s closer to that of Heath Ledger’s in The Dark Knight than others. Fans have even pointed out that the upper part of it is damaged, very much like the Joker’s mind – and the forehead tattoo of Jared Leto’s Joker in Suicide Squad.
In an interview with Digital Arts, designer Cladio Juliano spoke about the branding he and his studio South Shore Signs & Graphics did for Joker. Juliano was asked about what elements in the film he was proud of, and among them was the design of the ambulances, adding that the props also serve as characters that “help bring everything to life”. Though those specific ambulances are in the film, they are not easy to find as the design on the back is not visible. The ambulance that crashes into the police car where Arthur is at the end of the film is one of them, as the lines on the sides are higher than those on other ambulances seen before (for example, in the scene where Arthur’s mother is taken to the hospital), but the back is never shown.
Whether that special design is visible at some point in the film (in the background, possibly) or it wasn’t shown at all, truth is that the team behind Joker paid attention to all details, and this nod to one of the best versions of the character is a very special and original one. As you can see, there’s so much more to Joker than just riots and confusing events.
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