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Thread: Thoughts on Joker

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    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    Thoughts on Joker

    Spoiler alert!

    Link

    -----

    What does Joker teach us about ourselves? Letís plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    First off, spoiler alert. If you havenít seen Joker yet and plan to see it, do not read this yet. If you keep reading, donít get angry with me and say ďYou spoiled something!Ē You were warned at the beginning. Yes. There are a lot of them in here and if you read ahead you will get filled in on several key plot points.

    Anyway, my wife and I saw this movie yesterday thanks to a friend who gave us a couple of tickets to see whatever movie we wanted. This is definitely a dark movie and you might want to take your kids with you to see Batman, but I recommend you really consider before taking them to see this one.

    Also, something that my wife would want me to say and I agree with is that Joaquin Phoenix is masterful at this role. We have a Joker who could rival Heath Ledger and even in her mind the best Joker of all, Mark Hamill, from Batman: The Animated Series. Phoenix does an incredibly convincing job of playing a man wrestling with delusional thinking to an extreme.

    This movie also gives us a look at what mental illness can be like and the problem when the system doesnít seem to be there. I could understand that. Itís hard to find good therapists and good psychiatrists nowadays. Thereís also a stigma involving mental health.

    Probably the best quote in the movie about this is something Joker writes in his notebook. ďThe worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you donít.Ē Now Iím not saying there isnít some element of the will involved in mental illness. I have a problem with it when people make a negative condition their identity. I also think itís wrong to think that psychiatric medications will solve all the problems. They can help, but good therapy does the best.

    At the same time, we would never go to someone in a wheelchair and expect them to get up and walk as if they were fine. We give full understanding there. Yet when it comes to mental health, there is a stigma. Watch what happens next time a mass shooting takes place. What will be the first thing said before we really know anything about the shooter? Mental health. After all, such a person would have to be mental. Right?

    This brings us to something about the evil in Joker. Letís start with the beginning. Jokerís name in this is Arthur Fleck and at the start, he is a clown waving a sign to advertise for a business. Some street kids steal the sign and he pursues them only to have them knock him down by breaking the sign in his face and kicking him relentlessly while heís on the ground and leaving him alone. These are kids sadly doing evil just to do evil.

    Because of this, one of his fellow workers gives him a gun to defend himself. Arthur knows heís not to have one but heís told it will be okay. Later on heís on a Subway and some guys start assaulting him there. At one point, he starts shooting at them. Now I am someone who believes in self-defense and thinks when youíre in the midst of being assaulted and you are in danger, it is proper to fight back.

    He goes beyond that. He takes out two of the three who have assaulted him. The third is wounded and hobbling away. Arthur chases after him and ends up shooting him to kill him. At that point, it is not self-defense, but murder, seeing as Arthur was in no danger from the guy at the time.

    The thing is Arthur has no remorse. There is no sadness to him. If anything, he lives with freedom. He seems to become a more confident individual. As he tells a social worker he works with, he now knows that he exists. He has made some sort of impact on the world. He has not been a doormat. He stood up for himself.

    We see him walking into the apartment of the woman he wants and kissing her and her wrapping her arms around him and kissing back. Soon theyíre going out together and when his mother gets sick and is in the hospital, sheís right there by his side. She thinks whoever shot the guys on the subway was a hero, not knowing it was him.

    Hereís the problem with that though. None of that happened. We find out later on that he wanders into her apartment and she doesnít know who he is and refers to her as the man down the hall. It all looks real, but itís part of the delusion. This is why I put a pause on the mental topic. Joker really does have issues and a large part of this movie is wondering what is real and what isnít.

    He reads a letter his mother has sent to Thomas Wayne where she writes that Thomas Wayne is really Arthurís father. He finds a way to get in to see Wayne, unless thatís part of the delusion. He is told he is adopted and gets the files from Arkham to see. In them, we find that it is said that Arthur is an adopted child and not the son of Thomas Wayne.

    Once again, is this real or not? Fans of DC comics will know that faking adoptions is nothing new to the rich and powerful who want to cover up anything that could damage their reputation. Itís entirely possible Thomas Wayne could have had an affair and then painted Arthurís mother as delusional and faked several documents to that effect.

    One other major delusion involves the figure of Murray Franklin. Murray is a talk show host that Arthur and his mother watch every night. Arthur has a delusion where he is in the audience and shouts out to Murray that he loves him. Murray talks with him and asks him to join him on stage and tells him privately something along the lines of, ďYou see all these lights and all this fanfare? Iíd trade it away in a second to have a son like you.Ē Murray becomes the father in a sense that Arthur doesnít have and in his apartment with his mother there are several video tapes of the Murray Franklin show, not common for a talk show.

    Yet at one point Arthur goes to do some stand-up and a condition that he says he has that causes him to laugh uncontrollably for no reason at times kicks in. The tape is sent to the Murray Franklin show where it is played and Murray mocks Arthur and refers to him as a Joker, hence the name. Later, the show says there was a positive response to the clip and they want Arthur to come on the show to talk with Murray.

    Again, keep in mind what I said about spoilers.

    Before he goes on, Arthur ends up killing his mother with a pillow, probably revenge since he thinks she lied to him about his origins. Next, he kills the co-worker who gave him the gun that he could use. Then, he goes on Murrayís show and admits to killing the guys on the Subway. After some conversation, he kills Murray on live TV and riots break out all over Gotham as clown figures take to the streets that had been inspired first by the Subway killings and then Murray Franklinís death propelled it even further.

    While the police are taking Joker away, some clowns driving an ambulance crash into the car and pull Joker out. We also see at this point one of the clowns follow Thomas Wayne and his wife out killing them in front of young Bruce Wayne. Joker is treated as a hero by his fellow clowns.

    The movie ends with him talking to another social worker, same race and gender as the first, at a mental hospital, probably Arkham. When he leaves, his footsteps are bloody for awhile and then he is being chased back and forth by someone. I honestly still donít know what to make of this scene. Does it mean everything was a delusion? Hard to say. Fans of the series do know that some things are real, such as the murder of the Waynes and Bruce being left behind.

    We also know Joker does become a sociopath villain, yet here is the real danger. I do not think Joker is the threat he is because he is a sociopath. He is the threat because his heart is evil. This is the real culprit behind everything. Sociopathy could make him more prone to that as could perhaps any mental illness, but you want to know who is really incredibly capable of doing great evil out there? You want to know who it is we should really watch for great evil?

    You and me.

    Clay Jones did his own research on genocides for his book on evil and found out that the people who commit genocides are normally ordinary people. You can see Hitler was the mastermind behind the Holocaust, but Hitler could not have done everything on his own. He needed to enlist the aid of others. These were men who were often good fathers to their kids and good husbands to their wives.

    In Lamentations, Jeremiah writes about a siege and how good women cooked their own children who became their food when they were starving. Today, people who would otherwise be good people murder their own children in abortion and think nothing of it. It would be easy to say everyone has a mental illness and if we could just eliminate the illness, we would remove evil from the world.

    Thatís a delusion in itself.

    Joker is delusional? Yep. So are every single one of us to some extent. We all readily believe lies about ourselves and about God consistently. We all think things that we shouldnít and believe things that we shouldnít. Christians do it. Atheists do it. Everyone does it. Unfortunately, we also convince ourselves our thinking is spot on in all of this.

    So who could be the Joker? You or I could. If we think that we are above a certain evil, that could be the sign that we are most likely to fall for it. Of course, it doesnít mean we will, but pride often comes before that fall. How many guys have had friendly chats with that female co-worker over lunch thinking nothing will come of it only to wind up in a hotel room a few months later? Yep. It happens.

    Joker is definitely a film to get you to think about human evil and what it is. I left the film thinking I had seen something interesting, but still unsure about what it was. I suppose thatís intentional on the part of the writers and directors. Maybe we cannot know what is and isnít true in Jokerís story, but we can know that despite what he says about his life being a comedy, when he uses it for evil, it is a tragedy.

    Letís use our lives for good. Be a comedy.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

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  3. #2
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
    Spoiler alert!

    Link

    -----

    What does Joker teach us about ourselves? Letís plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    First off, spoiler alert. If you havenít seen Joker yet and plan to see it, do not read this yet. If you keep reading, donít get angry with me and say ďYou spoiled something!Ē You were warned at the beginning. Yes. There are a lot of them in here and if you read ahead you will get filled in on several key plot points.

    Anyway, my wife and I saw this movie yesterday thanks to a friend who gave us a couple of tickets to see whatever movie we wanted. This is definitely a dark movie and you might want to take your kids with you to see Batman, but I recommend you really consider before taking them to see this one.

    Also, something that my wife would want me to say and I agree with is that Joaquin Phoenix is masterful at this role. We have a Joker who could rival Heath Ledger and even in her mind the best Joker of all, Mark Hamill, from Batman: The Animated Series. Phoenix does an incredibly convincing job of playing a man wrestling with delusional thinking to an extreme.

    This movie also gives us a look at what mental illness can be like and the problem when the system doesnít seem to be there. I could understand that. Itís hard to find good therapists and good psychiatrists nowadays. Thereís also a stigma involving mental health.

    Probably the best quote in the movie about this is something Joker writes in his notebook. ďThe worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you donít.Ē Now Iím not saying there isnít some element of the will involved in mental illness. I have a problem with it when people make a negative condition their identity. I also think itís wrong to think that psychiatric medications will solve all the problems. They can help, but good therapy does the best.

    At the same time, we would never go to someone in a wheelchair and expect them to get up and walk as if they were fine. We give full understanding there. Yet when it comes to mental health, there is a stigma. Watch what happens next time a mass shooting takes place. What will be the first thing said before we really know anything about the shooter? Mental health. After all, such a person would have to be mental. Right?

    This brings us to something about the evil in Joker. Letís start with the beginning. Jokerís name in this is Arthur Fleck and at the start, he is a clown waving a sign to advertise for a business. Some street kids steal the sign and he pursues them only to have them knock him down by breaking the sign in his face and kicking him relentlessly while heís on the ground and leaving him alone. These are kids sadly doing evil just to do evil.

    Because of this, one of his fellow workers gives him a gun to defend himself. Arthur knows heís not to have one but heís told it will be okay. Later on heís on a Subway and some guys start assaulting him there. At one point, he starts shooting at them. Now I am someone who believes in self-defense and thinks when youíre in the midst of being assaulted and you are in danger, it is proper to fight back.

    He goes beyond that. He takes out two of the three who have assaulted him. The third is wounded and hobbling away. Arthur chases after him and ends up shooting him to kill him. At that point, it is not self-defense, but murder, seeing as Arthur was in no danger from the guy at the time.

    The thing is Arthur has no remorse. There is no sadness to him. If anything, he lives with freedom. He seems to become a more confident individual. As he tells a social worker he works with, he now knows that he exists. He has made some sort of impact on the world. He has not been a doormat. He stood up for himself.

    We see him walking into the apartment of the woman he wants and kissing her and her wrapping her arms around him and kissing back. Soon theyíre going out together and when his mother gets sick and is in the hospital, sheís right there by his side. She thinks whoever shot the guys on the subway was a hero, not knowing it was him.

    Hereís the problem with that though. None of that happened. We find out later on that he wanders into her apartment and she doesnít know who he is and refers to her as the man down the hall. It all looks real, but itís part of the delusion. This is why I put a pause on the mental topic. Joker really does have issues and a large part of this movie is wondering what is real and what isnít.

    He reads a letter his mother has sent to Thomas Wayne where she writes that Thomas Wayne is really Arthurís father. He finds a way to get in to see Wayne, unless thatís part of the delusion. He is told he is adopted and gets the files from Arkham to see. In them, we find that it is said that Arthur is an adopted child and not the son of Thomas Wayne.

    Once again, is this real or not? Fans of DC comics will know that faking adoptions is nothing new to the rich and powerful who want to cover up anything that could damage their reputation. Itís entirely possible Thomas Wayne could have had an affair and then painted Arthurís mother as delusional and faked several documents to that effect.

    One other major delusion involves the figure of Murray Franklin. Murray is a talk show host that Arthur and his mother watch every night. Arthur has a delusion where he is in the audience and shouts out to Murray that he loves him. Murray talks with him and asks him to join him on stage and tells him privately something along the lines of, ďYou see all these lights and all this fanfare? Iíd trade it away in a second to have a son like you.Ē Murray becomes the father in a sense that Arthur doesnít have and in his apartment with his mother there are several video tapes of the Murray Franklin show, not common for a talk show.

    Yet at one point Arthur goes to do some stand-up and a condition that he says he has that causes him to laugh uncontrollably for no reason at times kicks in. The tape is sent to the Murray Franklin show where it is played and Murray mocks Arthur and refers to him as a Joker, hence the name. Later, the show says there was a positive response to the clip and they want Arthur to come on the show to talk with Murray.

    Again, keep in mind what I said about spoilers.

    Before he goes on, Arthur ends up killing his mother with a pillow, probably revenge since he thinks she lied to him about his origins. Next, he kills the co-worker who gave him the gun that he could use. Then, he goes on Murrayís show and admits to killing the guys on the Subway. After some conversation, he kills Murray on live TV and riots break out all over Gotham as clown figures take to the streets that had been inspired first by the Subway killings and then Murray Franklinís death propelled it even further.

    While the police are taking Joker away, some clowns driving an ambulance crash into the car and pull Joker out. We also see at this point one of the clowns follow Thomas Wayne and his wife out killing them in front of young Bruce Wayne. Joker is treated as a hero by his fellow clowns.

    The movie ends with him talking to another social worker, same race and gender as the first, at a mental hospital, probably Arkham. When he leaves, his footsteps are bloody for awhile and then he is being chased back and forth by someone. I honestly still donít know what to make of this scene. Does it mean everything was a delusion? Hard to say. Fans of the series do know that some things are real, such as the murder of the Waynes and Bruce being left behind.

    We also know Joker does become a sociopath villain, yet here is the real danger. I do not think Joker is the threat he is because he is a sociopath. He is the threat because his heart is evil. This is the real culprit behind everything. Sociopathy could make him more prone to that as could perhaps any mental illness, but you want to know who is really incredibly capable of doing great evil out there? You want to know who it is we should really watch for great evil?

    You and me.

    Clay Jones did his own research on genocides for his book on evil and found out that the people who commit genocides are normally ordinary people. You can see Hitler was the mastermind behind the Holocaust, but Hitler could not have done everything on his own. He needed to enlist the aid of others. These were men who were often good fathers to their kids and good husbands to their wives.

    In Lamentations, Jeremiah writes about a siege and how good women cooked their own children who became their food when they were starving. Today, people who would otherwise be good people murder their own children in abortion and think nothing of it. It would be easy to say everyone has a mental illness and if we could just eliminate the illness, we would remove evil from the world.

    Thatís a delusion in itself.

    Joker is delusional? Yep. So are every single one of us to some extent. We all readily believe lies about ourselves and about God consistently. We all think things that we shouldnít and believe things that we shouldnít. Christians do it. Atheists do it. Everyone does it. Unfortunately, we also convince ourselves our thinking is spot on in all of this.

    So who could be the Joker? You or I could. If we think that we are above a certain evil, that could be the sign that we are most likely to fall for it. Of course, it doesnít mean we will, but pride often comes before that fall. How many guys have had friendly chats with that female co-worker over lunch thinking nothing will come of it only to wind up in a hotel room a few months later? Yep. It happens.

    Joker is definitely a film to get you to think about human evil and what it is. I left the film thinking I had seen something interesting, but still unsure about what it was. I suppose thatís intentional on the part of the writers and directors. Maybe we cannot know what is and isnít true in Jokerís story, but we can know that despite what he says about his life being a comedy, when he uses it for evil, it is a tragedy.

    Letís use our lives for good. Be a comedy.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters
    I agree with you that Joaquin Phoenix was terrific as the Joker. I also agree that it is a movie no child should see; I''m not even sure I should have seen it.

    There is one part I didn't get and it was the letter he received in the mail. We couldn't read it all; just a few words.

    What did it say? Who was it from?

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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Went in expecting a King of Comedy/Taxi Driver style homage, and got exactly that. I thought the film was well done, especially the overall aesthetic and period-accuracy. Joaquin Phoenix was terrific, his physicality really adding dimension to the role.

    Like its source material (not DC comics, but 70s/80s Scorsese movies), the film follows a very Travis Bickle/Rupert Pupkin character type. A pitiful sad sack who has clear mental issues and delusions of grandeur that are exasperated by the filthy, dangerous living conditions of pre-Giuliani NYC. Unlike the psychopath of comic book lore, this Joker does seem to genuinely care about some people, especially the non-judging, and those who show him kindness (children, a midget, the girl down the hall, and, at least initially, his mother). This is a character who has some conception of moral rightness. He appears to genuinely empathizes with, if not class distinctions, at least the cruelty shown the weak by the powerful. And throughout the film, the impression I got was that Aurthur Fleck's fits weren't really laughs as much as choked sobs. Phoenix mastered the art of making a laugh sound like an agonizing cry, or maybe a cry sound like an agonizing laugh. Either way, he goes into these fits when he witnesses injustice, and cruelty, and despair.

    The big issue with the movie is that it wears its influences on its sleeve, and they're too hard to look past. If you're unfamiliar with movies like Taxi Driver and King of Comedy, Joker is going to seem absolutely groundbreaking in a world of superhero franchises and reboots. But if you know anything about gritty 70s/80s Scorsese-style street dramas, it's old hat. It progresses almost exactly as you'd expect. Not a scene in the film that's shocking or a reveal that's not expected, and I thought that was a bit unfortunate because I was hoping Phillips was going to take it to unfamiliar territory. I can't remember it exactly, but there's a saying that goes something like, 'an influence shouldn't be so obvious that it makes you wish you were watching that instead.' And while I was still entertained, I definitely felt that way about this movie.

    I guess expecting something magical from the director of the Starsky and Hutch, and The Hangover films might have been asking too much. Todd Phillips did make a movie that ties well into the themes of this film; His first, a documentary on the filthy, disgusting, heroin using, feces throwing, heavily mentally disturbed punk musician G.G. Allin (Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies), and we do see a little bit of Allin in Arthur Fleck, but thankfully (?) he never goes full Allin.


    I think the most fascinating thing about the film for me was watching people bringing their children to the movie expecting a standard superhero flick and leaving confused and disappointed.


    Some side notes: I think reading too much of the Joker mythology from the comics or other DC movies back into this film is a mistake. It seems to me that Phillips and Phoenix were less interested in making a comic book movie, and more interested in flipping expectations by creating an homage to the previously mentioned street dramas.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
    The movie ends with him talking to another social worker, same race and gender as the first, at a mental hospital, probably Arkham. When he leaves, his footsteps are bloody for awhile and then he is being chased back and forth by someone. I honestly still donít know what to make of this scene. Does it mean everything was a delusion? Hard to say. Fans of the series do know that some things are real, such as the murder of the Waynes and Bruce being left behind.
    I suppose the audience can never be too sure, but I think the movie is pretty good at highlighting what is and isn't real. I don't think the final scene is too ambiguous. I think the implication is that he killed the new social worker in order to attempt an escape, which is why there's blood under his soles, and why he is then being chased by wards.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
    So who could be the Joker? You or I could. If we think that we are above a certain evil, that could be the sign that we are most likely to fall for it. Of course, it doesnít mean we will, but pride often comes before that fall. How many guys have had friendly chats with that female co-worker over lunch thinking nothing will come of it only to wind up in a hotel room a few months later? Yep. It happens.
    I suppose that's one way of looking at it, but I don't know if that was the intent of the film creators. Travis Bickle is someone we might empathize with at the beginning of the film, but by the end of the film, I think the audience is supposed to acknowledge that this guy has major issues. He's not like an ordinary person, he's a person who's completely snapped from reality. And I think the same is true of Arthur Fleck. We're not really suppose to empathize with him by the end of the movie.
    Last edited by Adrift; 10-10-2019 at 03:01 PM.

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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian3 View Post
    I agree with you that Joaquin Phoenix was terrific as the Joker. I also agree that it is a movie no child should see; I''m not even sure I should have seen it.

    There is one part I didn't get and it was the letter he received in the mail. We couldn't read it all; just a few words.

    What did it say? Who was it from?
    The letter was one his mother wanted him to send to Thomas Wayne which explained that she and their son were suffering (implying that she thought that Arthur was Wayne's son), and asking for help. That seemed pretty hackneyed to me, as did the later explanation that the mother was delusional, so that it was all a lie (or was it). I didn't really care for that "twist" in the movie.

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    There were a number of concerns raised on Reddit that the title character would be some sort of hero for incels, even with some people afraid of real life violence, and with some military official even warning soldiers who wanted to attend the movie. To be honest, I viewed these concerns as hysterical and completely unlikely. But do those of you who have seen the movie think that those in the incel subculture might identify with the title character?
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
    There were a number of concerns raised on Reddit that the title character would be some sort of hero for incels, even with some people afraid of real life violence, and with some military official even warning soldiers who wanted to attend the movie. To be honest, I viewed these concerns as hysterical and completely unlikely. But do those of you who have seen the movie think that those in the incel subculture might identify with the title character?
    Yeah, I think that's possible. For some reason, certain villains and anti-heroes like the Joker (and Harley Quinn) tend to attract a certain...type. Usually the social misfit/outcast type who see themselves as the quirky (anti) hero of their internal head-canon, but everyone else sees as the slightly awkward kid who holds a stare for a few seconds past comfort. Oh, and Juggalo types. Maybe it's the clown thing, I don't know.

    I didn't even think about it as an issue when I went to see the movie though. If Taxi Driver were released today, I think people would be saying the same thing. Maybe it wouldn't get the attention, because we seem to be a society obsessed with superhero kid stuff (I say that as a long time adult comic book collector), but it has many of the same themes, with an even more justified protagonist. The social climate today is so much different than it was back then, though. In many ways the world is a better safer place, and in other ways we've seemed to have grown soft, and society seems to be creating troubled people who feel trapped in their heads, and pushed to extremes. The media is part of that, as is the internet. A movie like Joker isn't going to create a person like that, but any film can exasperate a pre-existing condition. But no one is calling on a ban on Taxi Driver yet, so I have a hard time believing the hand wringing over Joker is justified.

  8. Amen KingsGambit amen'd this post.
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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    The letter was one his mother wanted him to send to Thomas Wayne which explained that she and their son were suffering (implying that she thought that Arthur was Wayne's son), and asking for help. That seemed pretty hackneyed to me, as did the later explanation that the mother was delusional, so that it was all a lie (or was it). I didn't really care for that "twist" in the movie.
    But, it came in the mail to Joker???

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian3 View Post
    But, it came in the mail to Joker???
    I don't recall him ever getting a letter. Every time he checked the box it was empty. He was given a letter to send to Thomas Wayne by his mother, but that's the only letter I recall him reading.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    I don't recall him ever getting a letter. Every time he checked the box it was empty. He was given a letter to send to Thomas Wayne by his mother, but that's the only letter I recall him reading.
    I thought she said it came in the mail. It was in an envelope and he opened it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian3 View Post
    I thought she said it came in the mail. It was in an envelope and he opened it.
    Yep, if I'm remembering correctly, that's the one she handed to him to be mailed. He opened the letter that she wanted him to mail to Thomas Wayne.

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