Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker

In 2019, after decades of appearing as an antagonist in Batman movies (and Suicide Squad), The Joker finally snagged the cinematic spotlight for himself. Joaquin Phoenix starred as DC Comics’ Clown Prince of Crime in Joker, which was met with a solid amount of positive critical reception and raked in over $1 billion at the box office. Although Joker was originally intended as a standalone story, there was talk afterwards about potentially delivering a sequel, and now it looks like Joker 2 is further along in the development process than we thought.

Buried in a THR piece about Hollywood’s top attorneys, it’s mentioned that Joker co-writer/director Todd Phillips signed a deal to co-write the next Joker “installment.” Outside of Joker 2 being mentioned as in development earlier this month, this is the biggest update we’ve gotten on the project for a long time. And considering how it was under Phillips’ watchful eye that Joker came together, it’s only logical that Warner Bros and DC Films would bring him back for another round of maniacal clown-induced chaos.

That said, the use of the word “installment” rather than “sequel” in this article is curious. Given all the accolades Joaquin Phoenix received for his performance as Arthur Fleck, including winning the Academy Award for Best Actor, one would imagine bringing him back would be the best way to ensure that Joker 2 comes anywhere close to the level of success its predecessor enjoyed. On the other hand, perhaps Warner Bros and DC are more interesting in going the anthology route with a new Joker movie, and we could see a different take on how the Clown Prince of Crime came to be starring a new character.

Then there’s the Batman of it all to contemplate. If Joker 2 is indeed a direct sequel to Joker, then the groundwork’s already been laid for the Caped Crusader to appear. Dante Pereira-Olson played a young Bruce Wayne in Joker, and during the riots that broke out in Gotham City after Arthur Fleck shot talk show host Murray Franklin on live television, Bruce watched his parents being gunned down in Crime Alley by one of the clown-makes rioters. Joker 2 could easily pick up several decades later and follow the now-adult Bruce becoming Batman and hunting down the man who was indirectly responsible for his parents’ murder.

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However, if Joker 2 is more of a self-contained follow-up, then we could potentially see a story where the Joker of this story succumbs to insanity when Batman is already on the scene. Although The Joker has multiple origin stories in the comics, he’s most often been depicted as a nameless criminal who’s transformed into his chalk white-skinned, green-haired self after falling into a vat of chemicals during a confrontation with the Dark Knight. That’s not to say the next Joker movie would need to deliver the same kind of tale, but it would be interesting to see a story unfold where Batman played a role, however accidental, in The Joker rising up to terrorize Gotham City.

Clearly there are a lot of questions that need to be answered about Joker 2, so as soon as more concrete details roll in, we’ll let you know. For now, stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all the biggest news concerning upcoming DC Comics movies.

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