Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Joker’ Contains A Major Heath Ledger Reference

Joaquin Phoenix Joker Heath Ledge

Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker may pride itself on being separate from other comic book adaptations but it does contain one major reference to Heath Ledger’s role in the 2008 film, The Dark Knight.


At the end of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, Arthur Fleck is ultimately captured by the police after murdering a late-night talk show host, played by Robert De Niro, in the film’s disturbing finale. While being taken away by the police, Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is resting his head on a window looking at Gotham’s skyline. The shot itself, however, is a complete reversal of Heath Ledger’s ride in a cop car in The Dark Knight.

In The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger’s Joker is riding a cop car to freedom. Instead of laying his head on the window, Heath Ledger’s head is sticking out of the window enjoying his new freedom. Heath Ledger also happens to be riding on the opposite end of the car as well.

What did you all think of this Heath Ledger reference in Joker? Did you spot any more subtle nods to previous Batman films? How did Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as The Joker compare to Heath Ledger’s? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Here is the official synopsis for Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker:

Director Todd Phillips “Joker” centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.

Directed by Todd Phillips from a script he co-wrote with Scott Silver, Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Bill Camp, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Douglas Hodge, Marc Maron, Josh Pais, and Shea Whigham.

Joker is now in theaters everywhere.

Trey Griffeth

Trey Griffeth

Lover of video games, comics, and movies! Writer of all things that involve them!