Joaquin Phoenix's iconic dance scene on the steps of Gotham City can actually be found off Shakespeare Avenue in the Bronx

By Georgia Slater
October 23, 2019 02:35 PM

If you haven’t seen Joker, you might find yourself asking people flocking to this set of New York City stairs, “why so serious” to get a photo?

Fans of the blockbuster were quick to recognize the real-life stairs from a climactic scene in Todd Phillip’s film, where Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck makes his pivotal entrance as the titular villainous alter-ego.

Phoenix celebrates his turning point as a villain with a wild dance sequence on the steps set to Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2”.

The stairs, which are supposed to be a part of Gotham City in the movie, are actually located off Shakespeare Avenue in the Bronx, leading many viewers to visit the site.

Several fans have documented their experience at the Joker Stairs — which even have their own location on Instagram — on social media, mimicking the moves of Fleck in the film.

While some tourists showed up to the stairs only for a quick picture, others came dressed in full Joker-garb — even some face paint — to record the scene themselves.

However, not everyone who lives near the location is thrilled with the Joker fans clowning around.

Gothamist, an NYC arts and entertainment website, captured a picture of a flyer near the steps explaining to visitors, “It is disrespectful to treat our community and residents as a photo opportunity.”

“We hope it ends soon because we don’t need this,” Jonathan Francis, a resident of the area, told the Gothamist. “We feel disrespected.”

Francis continued that the crowds at the stairs have added an inconvenience for those trying to get to work or school.

Arthur Fleck/Joker-JOAQUIN PHOENIX
Credit: Niko Tavernise

Joker has grossed a massive global total of $737.5 million after three weekends. This puts the movie just behind 2016’s Deadpool as the highest-earning R rated movie of all time, with the Ryan Reynolds starrer holding on to the title at $783 million.

Joker is now set to eclipse that with weeks still left in its theater run. The movie, raked in over $29 million just this past weekend.

The film has been praised by critics and received the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival in late August before premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival to even more buzz.

While Joker is focused on a comic book character, the story itself is more of a character study of a man who descends into madness than a superhero tentpole movie.

Joker is out now.