In a development that seems all-too-common for DC Comics movies these days, there’s turmoil surrounding the sequel to Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix. According to a story from The Direct (citing an original report by the subscription-based site The Ankler), Warner Brothers doesn’t even have a script for the sequel. Despite being more than two years removed from the original’s release date, development on the sequel is basically at a standstill.
Todd Philips officially signed on to return as director and writer for the sequel in May of 2021, but hasn’t even turned in a draft script or synopsis, nor provided any details on the new film. He also has been quiet on any public updates on the film’s progress. Reports had surfaced earlier this year that the sequel would begin filming in 2023, but with no official release date and no script in hand, that start date may be too optimistic. The official Joker movie Twitter account is still active, but hasn’t offered a single update on the sequel. Joaquin Phoenix has not officially signed on for the sequel, despite reports that he was offered as much as $50 million for two possible sequels.
Speaking of Joaquin Phoenix, even the Joker himself has his doubts about the film’s future. The actor has never made a sequel in his entire career, although he has stated he is open to reprising the role of Arthur Fleck. However, in an interview last fall, he wondered if a sequel was necessary. “I mean, I dunno. From when we were shooting, we started to —you know, uhh, this is an interesting guy. There are some things we could do with this guy and could [explore] further. But as to whether we actually will? I don’t know,” he said.
Joker surprised many upon its release in 2019. Its R-rated take on the classic Batman villain was a critical and commercial success, earning 11 Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture) and winning two, including a Best Actor Oscar for Joaquin Phoenix. It raked in over a billion dollars at the box office, on a production budget of only $55 million, a fraction of what many comic book movies cost to make these days. It became the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, continuing a trend of success for adult-oriented comic book movies like Marvel’s Deadpool. While Warner was quick to greenlight a sequel, there has been little evidence of the movie taking any steps towards production.
With the success of Robert Pattinson’s The Batman – and the buzz surrounding a deleted scene with Barry Keoghan as the Joker – Warner Brothers is in a bit of a dilemma. There are already competing Batmans in the DC Extended Universe of movies, with the return of Michael Keaton and “Snyder Cut” enthusiasts pushing for more of Ben Affleck’s Caped Crusader. Now they have Joaquin Phoenix potentially battling Keoghan for Joker dominance, with Jared Leto still out there. The box office may end up being the determining factor, but Warner Brothers seems to have a “try anything” approach to DC movies these days.
Joaquin Phoenix has been occupied with other movie projects to move forward with the Joker sequel now. He is currently filming Napoleon, in which he plays the lead role. He recently completed another film, Ari Aster’s Disappointment Blvd., due to release later this year. His last film, C’mon C’mon, opened last fall to critical acclaim.