Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker makes Dante Pereria-Olson's Bruce Wayne smile in The Joker

So Is the Joker Batman’s Brother?

Is Joker the worst big brother ever?

Batman and the Joker, together, create one of the greatest pairs of archenemies in superhero history. From the comic books to the big screen, their never-ending battle has delighted fans for decades. The two happen to share an inner darkness and were both shaped by trauma. However, trauma molded them into two vastly different individuals with different plans for Gotham. Batman become Gotham’s greatest protector, while the Joker became the Clown Prince of Crime.

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Meanwhile, the Joker and Batman are practically immortal enemies, because their feud can never really be solved. Batman completes the Joker by giving him a substantial enemy and the greatest game he could ever play, hence the Joker will never kill Batman. Likewise, Batman refuses to be broken by the Joker’s evil and will never kill him for fear of being like him.

The Batman and Joker’s relationship is complex enough as it is, but are the two bonded by more than just their rivalry in Joker?

Are Batman and the Joker brothers?

The topic of Batman and the Joker being related was explored in Todd Phillips’ 2019 film Joker. Joker is based on the DC comics and provides a potential origin story for the Joker. In Joker, Joaquin Phoenix stars as Arthur Fleck (a.k.a. The Joker), a man with an uncontrollable laughing condition. Traumatized from early abuse, disregarded by the rest of society, and failing in his comedic dreams, Fleck spirals downward.

One of the biggest plot twists in Joker is the “reveal” of Fleck’s father’s identity. In the film, Fleck lives with his elderly mother, Penny Fleck, who is both physically and mentally ill. Penny frequently writes letters to Thomas Wayne, a billionaire mayoral candidate, seeking to get his attention and receive financial aid. When Fleck intercepts her letters, he finds her claim that Wayne is his biological father.

Is Penny’s claim true?

However, it must be noted that Joker never actually confirms whether the claim is true. Fleck goes to Wayne Manor in search of the truth but is turned away by Alfred (Douglas Hodge), who claims Penny is delusional. Wayne reiterates this sentiment, stating that Penny is mentally ill and was once committed to Gotham City’s Arkham Asylum.

Fleck visits Arkham Asylum to find that Penny was, indeed, committed there at one time. He finds in her file that he was adopted by her while she was a housekeeper for the Waynes. She was committed to Arkham Asylum for letting her boyfriend severely abuse Fleck. Thus, the file seems to point to the fact that Penny fabricated her relationship with Wayne. However, Wayne is a man of power and could easily have influenced what was written in Penny’s files, as well. The viewer is ultimately left to decide if Fleck is, or is not, the half-brother of Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Will Batman and Joker’s siblinghood be further explored?

When it comes to whether a possible blood relationship between Batman and the Joker will ever be further explored, one must remember that Joker is not canon to the other DC Comics movies. Joker was made as a standalone film to examine the Joker outside of the DC universe. This means Phoenix’s Joker is not part of the same universe as Batman v Superman, Aquaman, and The Suicide Squad, nor is his Joker canon to Matt Reeves’ The Batman, which is another standalone film outside the DCEU. The Batman and Joker’s half-brother relationship never happened in the DCEU, so it is not likely to be explored within it.

A Joker 2 has not been confirmed, though there are rumors that it’s in early development by Warner Bros. If there is a Joker sequel, then Batman and the Joker’s possible brotherhood might be further explored. However, in the wider DC Universe, the Batman and Joker are not brothers and never were.

(Image: Warner Bros.)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.