Joaquin Phoenix ended up becoming an unlikely addition to the comic book movie ranks and Joker was one of the more surprising additions to the genre. It was more a referendum on madness and a look at our society as a whole than it was a comic book movie, but in this way, it started to bend the genre just a bit. Ever since the film came out, folks have been wondering if there would be a follow-up sequel or whether it was one—and—done. Well now, it looks like we have our answer with The Hollywood Reporter letting on that a Joker sequel is definitely in the works from Warner Bros.
This news that there will be a Joker sequel isn’t all that surprising considering the success of the first one. Though it’s still such a different kind of film that it will be interesting to see which direction they take the next story in the franchise. Joaquin Phoenix clearly, and fully, bought into the character, giving us a window into how Arthur Fleck would have gone through a full transformation into the Clown Prince of Crime. It was a true descent into madness, much more of a slow burn than any other comic book film and from that perspective, a sequel didn’t seem to be a clear project or even all that necessary.
But from this report, it appears that things are full steam ahead for Joker 2 with the plan being for Joaquin Phoenix to get back into the role. Because one needs visual aids and some sort of a Ph.D. to keep track of different timelines and universes these days, it’s somewhat helpful to know that Joker lives in its own timeline, separate from the other DC projects out there. A sequel would likely continue to build on the murderous pathos of the character, though this time would likely focus more on the build-up of a criminal empire. The first film was about the factors that dovetailed to make Fleck into the beginnings of the Joker. A sequel would likely begin to show us how the Joker becomes the fully realized (so to speak) version of the character.
We saw in the Joaquin Phoenix version of Arthur Fleck, how his timeline contributed to the Wayne family history and ultimately the events that led Bruce to eventually become Batman. They were all part of the same origin story in this respect. It’s likely that a sequel would continue to lean on this version of the timeline, ultimately bringing in another version of Batman. But we also know that in the movie, Bruce was only a kid so if a sequel happened right after there would be time until the Caped Crusader would need to become part of the action.
Joker, for how different a movie it was in respect to other comic book films, was a massive success in its own right. With Joaquin Phoenix bringing everything you’d ever want on the screen and definitely diverging from the iconic Heath Ledger turn we saw in The Dark Knight Rises or Jared Leto’s gangster rendition, the film was a rather unlikely box office mega-hit. On just around a $70 million budget, it earned more than $1 billion at the box office. In terms of comic book films (notice I’m not using the word “superhero” here) it ranks 13th all-time in money made for the genre.
Joaquin Phoenix and the Joker will exist outside of other DC properties right now. It’s not going to be part of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, any of the Justice League arcs, or the upcoming Gotham PD timeline. A Joker franchise would be in its own world. Another story for this character could be very disturbing but would continue to lay the groundwork for one of the most iconic villains ever.