By now, Todd Phillips' acclaimed Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix has well and truly embedded itself within the zeitgeist (almost to a point of ad nauseam). But as it has just been revealed, the audience was almost treated to an alternate ending - which would have completely changed not only the overall impact of the finale, but the entire canon of Batman itself.
Filmmaker/pop-cultural fixture/de facto gatekeeper of comic book lore, Kevin Smith, recently divulged some rather intriguing details about the hit film's alternate ending on his podcast. Details that have apparently been sourced from a verified authority connected to the film's production.
“Originally, the ending in the hospital was different... [Joker's] in the hospital and he laughs, chuckles... and he says, ‘I was just thinking of something funny.’
What was supposed to happen was you flashed back to the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne and it was him killing Thomas and Martha Wayne. And the boy was screaming and crying and he turned to walk away, then he turned back, shrugged, and shot the kid. Credits.
What the fuck, man!”
While the concept of The Joker being the culprit behind the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne is not exactly an original one - having first been depicted on screen in Tim Burton's Batman (1989) starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson - taking it further by shooting Bruce Wayne would have completely changed the entire Batman mythology. This would either:
a) Erase the existence of Batman altogether, or
b) Given Batman a far grittier origin story wherein he survives a gunshot wound as a child and thereby tying his dichotomous existence with Joker in a more profound fashion.
Either way, it would have taken some directorial balls to go through with it. Even more than what has already been displayed with this latest interpretation, especially so when considering an often rabid fanbase likely to turn in the event of too much change or even too little change. Sometimes, you just can't win.