Todd Phillips’ Joker scored eleven Academy Award nominations and brought home two, with Joaquin Phoenix bringing home the big gold in the Best Actor category. The movie was a huge hit at the box office too, bringing in over a billion dollars for Warner Bros. So it makes sense that Joker 2 is rumored to be in the works.
Why Make Joker 2?
There are over one billion reasons (and counting) why the Joker may see a sequel. Once Phillips’ movie crossed the $1 billion threshold, Warner Brothers saw more dollars in their future.
The financial success of Joker was far from expected. It was the fourth DC movie to cross the billion-dollar mark, right behind 2018’s Jason Momoa’s hit Aquaman ($1.15 billion) and two Christopher Nolan Batman flicks: 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises ($1.08 billion) and 2008’s The Dark Knight ($1 billion). With Aquaman already greenlit for a sequel and a new Batman currently filming, Warner Brothers is looking to jump on another cash cow in the Joker. Money talks and right now it is screaming from the mountain top.
While crossing the billion-dollar mark is an impressive feat, the Joker also had a couple other record-setters that also allowed Warner to move forward with a sequel. The Joker gave Warner’s the biggest opening weekend of all time when it was released. It also is the first R-rated movie to jump the billion-dollar mark. One more fact worth mentioning is that the film is the most profitable comic book film ever. These numbers were reached in the films first six weeks. So here comes Joker 2.
WILL JOAQUIN BE BACK?
All signs point to a definite maybe. Warner Bros. were hedging bets early (as many studios do) and had a sequel option with Phoenix. The unexpected windfall from Joker furthered the idea and once Joaquin won the Oscar for best actor, plans really started moving forward. So will Warner pull the trigger on the Phoenix option for Joker 2? All signs are still pointing to a definite maybe.
Ultimately, it may not matter if Joaquin Phoenix comes back or not, word is that Warner Bros. has decided they’re making not only one sequel, but multiple Joker sequels with or without him.
Apparently whenever Joaquin decides to bail on the franchise, the plan is simply to move the plot in the direction that Joaquin’s Arthur was never the REAL Joker but really just a guy who inspires the guy who eventually becomes the real Joker. And for WB, whoever plays that guy, will be someone who’s easier to convince into making Joker 2 and other multiple sequels than Joaquin Phoenix.
Luckily though, Phoenix expressed interest in doing Joker 2 back while they were still filming the first one. In an interview he revealed, “Long before the release or before we had any idea if it would be successful, we talked about sequels. In the second or third week of shooting, I was like, ‘Todd, can you start working on a sequel? There’s way too much to explore.’ It was kind of in jest — but not really.”
WHAT ABOUT TODD PHILLIPS?
Back in November 2019 Phillips had to come forward after conflicting reports, one saying Joker 2 was in the works while the other said there wasn’t. He clarified with Indiewire at the time saying, “Here’s the real truth about a sequel… While Joaquin and I have talked about it, and while touring the world with Warner Bros executives — going to Toronto, and Venice, and other places — of course, we’re sitting at dinner and they’re saying, ‘So, have you thought about…?’ But, talking about contracts, there’s not a contract for us to even write a sequel, we’ve never approached Joaquin to be in a sequel. Will that happen? Again, I just think the article was anticipatory at best.”
That was back in November of 2019. Since then things have changed.
Phillips has nabbed himself a huge payday by working a deal much similar to the one he worked for his Hangover movies. In both instances, Phillips deferred an upfront salary so he could get a bigger piece of the adjusted gross. Smart move since the Hangover trilogy has raked in over $1.42 billion and we already know the Joker’s take.
As a result of that deal we now know that Todd Phillips made a little over $70 million from Joker. That’s $70 million directly in his pocket. Almost no director has ever made that much money from a single movie before. So he’d be crazy not to go all in on making another one.
Money talks. So Phillips is now in talks to return as director and co-writer (along with Scott Silver, who wrote the first Joker) for Joker 2. Chances look good that this deal is a done deal.
OTHERS RETURNING FOR JOKER 2
One person we know won’t be back is Robert De Niro’s Murray Franklin character. Arthur Fleck took care of that. Even if Franklin survived, chances are Phoenix and De Niro won’t the screen any time soon. There were multiple reports that the two stars clashed even before filming began. So, it’s probably best Fleck took care of Franklin.
What about Zazie Beetz returning as Fleck’s neighbor Sophie? The controversy on her character’s fate was settled by Phillips when he revealed they had filmed a since-deleted scene which would have shown fans she was still alive. So Beetz’s return in Joker 2 is very possible.
THE PLOT OF JOKER 2
What will Joker 2 be about? Does Fleck’s story continue right after the first movie or do we move a few years further down the line? At the end of Joker, we got to see Fleck complete his transformation into what we assume is the Joker, but he was off to Arkham State Hospital.
We got to see Bruce Wayne in the first movie but will the filmmakers attempt to tie Joker 2 in with the new Matt Reeves Batman movie? Not only did we get to see a very young Bruce Wayne, but we also were thrown the big curve Fleck’s mother tossed his way about young Bruce possibly being his step-brother.
There are quite a few directions Phillips and Silver can take in this sequel. One of the wilder ones has them doing Joker 2 without Joker at all. Phillips has been thinking about instead making it about Batman. He says, “It’s a beautiful Gotham. What I would like to see someone tackle is what Batman looks like from that Gotham.”
That doesn’t mean this is for sure what Phillips is doing for Joker 2, but it is something he’s considering. He continues, “What was interesting to me about the inclusion of Batman in our movie was, ‘What kind of Batman does that Gotham make?’ That’s all I meant by that.”
If they decide not to bring the Batman aspect into Joker 2, who will be the antagonist to Fleck? In the first movie, you could say Fleck was his own, dealing with his disorder (Pseudobulbar Affect). But Fleck also made his full transformation into Joker, so it will be interesting to see what they come up with.
BATMAN IN THE JOKERVERSE
As the Jokerverse moves forward it’s likely that Batman will have to show up at some point, in some capacity. WB already has a shortlist for who they want to play Batman in Joker 2 or other Jokerverse projects.
The biggest names on that list are James Marsden (who played Cyclops in the X-Men movies), Bradley Cooper, and Ryan Gosling. Cooper seems to be transitioning into directing and Gosling is in heavier demand. Marsden has experience playing a superhero and he’d probably be easy to get. If Batman’s part ends up being a small one, it’s easy to imagine them landing on him out of that list.
One of the dark horse names currently in serious contention to play Batman is reportedly former Breaking Bad and current Westworld star Aaron Paul. While you probably have Paul slotted in your head as the hapless stoner Jesse Pinkman, on Westworld he’s transitioned into more of a tortured leading man. He also had a brief attempt at leading a movie as an action hero in the quickly forgotten Need for Speed.
Fans excited about Joker 2 have decided to take matters into their own hands, and created this incredible fan trailer. It features all three modern Jokers together in one film. We need this immediately…
The Future Of The Joker
In addition to Joker 2, Warner Bros. is working on developing a number of other Joker related projects. One of them is slated to be a series on HBO, where the studio is developing several different superhero related limited series.
One of those HBO series is rumored to be an adaptation of the comicbook storyline Batman: White Knight. Published as an eight issue series between 2017 and 2018, White Knight tells a story in which the Joker regains his sanity and works to change the public image of himself. On the flipside, Batman becomes a villain and a politician bent on dominating Gotham.
As the Joker word is that Warner Bros. wants Matt Damon to play the role. He probably wouldn’t spend much time in Joker makeup. The storyline of White Knight involves Joker reverting back to being Jack Napier and presenting a public image of being a sane, normal guy. He rises to prominence and fights the now evil Bruce Wayne on the arena of politics.
If Joaquin Phoenix was the perfect actor to play the Joker slipping into insanity, then Matt Damon actually seems like the perfect guy to play the Joker when he’s suddenly a sane politician. Damon does normal, politician types perfectly.
With every version of the Joker there’s always fear that the character could inspire copycats. That will likely continue with Joker 2. That seems to be what happened in Missouri, when a man dressed up as the Joker and threatened to kill people.
48-year-old Jeremy J. Garnier of University City, Missouri has been arrested and charged with a making terrorist threats according to STL Today. He reportedly showed up at a local bar dressed as the Joker and started threatening to kill people. Additionally he allegedly showed up on a Facebook livestream in the same garb, threatening to bomb the city and murder people. Here’s some of what he said in his disturbing video…
“Yes I’m doing this for attention, but the attention I seek is to take over the world… I’m going to start killing people until this reaches a thousand (viewers), and once it reaches a thousand, I’m going to go out in public and I’m going to kill more. We’re not going to go to any movie theaters. We’re going to go totally unarmed because we don’t want to alert the authorities into thinking we might be on an actual rampage.”
Garnier has a criminal history of burglary and was convicted in the year 2000 of robbing a local credit union. He’s currently being held without bail.