Throughout Todd Phillips’ new film Joker, bizarre scenes are causing audiences to wonder whether to laugh or cringe—or both. Among these uncomfortable moments was an unexpected move from Joaquin Phoenix as the title character: he plants a wet kiss on a woman he has just met.
The moment occurs when Arthur Fleck walks on stage at the Murray Franklin Show, greeting the host (played by Robert De Niro) and the fellow guests on the segment. When he says hello to an elderly woman also on the show, he kisses her on the lips, and holds it there for far too long. The other characters are clearly surprised but try to laugh it off, unaware of the violent events that are about to unfold.
The kiss might have a deeper meaning, though. ComicBook.com draws a comparison to a real-life interview with Heath Ledger, who played the Joker in The Dark Knight, and suggests the scene in the movie must be a reference to it.
Audiences may remember one particularly strange video that went viral during press for The Dark Knight in 2008: an excited older woman interrupts an interview when she sees the actor, and starts screaming. Ledger is a good sport about it, laughing, but then decides to kiss her on the mouth. The woman faints on the floor, making for just about one of the weirdest fan encounters ever caught on camera.
A DC fan account posted the video, adding the caption: “Sorry for posting this #Joker spoiler.”
We’re going to need Phillips to confirm whether the unexpected kiss in his new film is a nod to Ledger, or just an odd coincidence. We’re hoping for the former.