Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker 2: Everything We Know
Uh oh. Is Batman trying to stop him?
With most comic book movies and characters, when a movie comes along that ends up being a massive box office hit, the sequel is merely a formality. Often the second story is planned well in advance of the first film even coming out. Such is the nature of the comic book landscape these days when it comes to productions. But Joker was a different kind of case when it hit the big screen. Because of the nature of the story and the character, it wasn’t totally clear we would get a Joker 2.
There was speculation it could be in the works, but recently there came confirmation that Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix were back with Joker 2 and the movie even has an interesting working title. Let’s take a look at everything we know about Joker: Folie à Deux.
WAS JOKER 2 NOT GOING TO HAPPEN?
In a development that seems all-too-common for DC Comics movies these days, there was 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 didn’t even have a script for Joker 2. Despite being more than two years removed from the original’s release date, development on the sequel was basically at a standstill.
Todd Philips officially signed on to return as director and writer for Joker 2 in May of 2021, but hadn’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 had his doubts about Joker 2’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.
THE ORIGINAL JOKER WAS A MASSIVE HIT
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.
Just because a studio wants a second movie doesn’t always mean the creatives involved have that next story in them. This was appearing very much the case for Joker 2 and it wasn’t all that surprising? How would one take this next story for Arthur Fleck? It wasn’t a typically comic book timeline and the first film could definitely have just worked as a standalone movie.
WILL JOKER 2 BUILD A FRANCHISE AND UNIVERSE
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 had been occupied with other movie projects to move forward with the Joker 2 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. But this latest news has him firmly back in the fold as the Clown Prince of Crime.
JOKER: FOLIE A DEUX – JOKER THE MUSICAL?
With the confirmation that Joker 2 was happening came the new title for the film as well. It will be called Joker: Folie à Deux at least to start. Folie à Deux is a reference, or the name, for a mental health disorder which is something of a shared psychosis because two people. How this connects to the story arc for the movie and Arthur Fleck is anyone’s guess. It could be a reference for the two competing personalities within the character wrestling with each other. For a mad man, this could make sense as he continues to become Joker and the face of crime in Gotham.
Or the reference for Joker 2 could be a relationship he has with another in the movie. If he’s building out more of a following in the movie then that could make sense as well. Will we see Harley Quinn introduced in this movie? It’s certainly looking like the case. Recent reports have it that Lady Gaga is in talks to join the cast as Harley Quinn and the movie is going to be, wait for it, a musical. While this is a rumor right now, the idea is certainly picking up steam, especially around this casting news.
Considering these folks have already wanted to bend the comic book genre with the first movie, why not just go completely sideways with a musical this time around? The appeal could be a haunting and grossly comical version of that style as well, something that would certainly continue separating the franchise from what we’ve seen in other places.
WHO ELSE IS INVOLVED WITH FOLIE A DEUX?
We are still early on in the process for Joker 2 so this is really anyone’s guess at this point. But GIANT FREAKIN ROBOT did recently have the exclusive that Al Pacino was in talks to join the cast. Could he follow up Robert DeNiro’s turn in the first movie? It would seem oddly fitting considering the arcs of their legendary careers. We will have more news on Joker 2 as it’s released.