Joker was one of the most discussed films of 2019, setting itself up as a controversial, daring piece of art that took silly superhero sh-t and, supposedly, did something Important with it. Except for how star Joaquin Phoenix wasn’t prepared to have the exact conversation the film, or at least its marketing, invited, and how the film itself turned out to be a wet bag of nothing upon arrival—artistically, anyway. It made a billion dollars and earned a bunch of Oscar nominations, and got Joaquin Phoenix a Best Actor trophy. By every metric, Joker was successful, except for how it wasn’t nearly as daring or interesting as it thought it was. 


But now we’re onto the sequel, Joker: Folie a Deux, which brings back Phoenix as Arthur Fleck/Joker, and introduces Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn. Todd Phillips is back directing and co-writing the script once again with Scott Silver. The gang’s all here, and now there is a poster, ahead of the first trailer, which drops next week.



I was willing to go with Joker based on the trailers and the lure of Joaquin Phoenix, but the movie was SO disappointing, I am going to be a MUCH harder sell this time around. What the first movie did well, though, was casting and Lady Gaga is a great choice as Harley Quinn. Although I worry, simply because Todd Phillips has never once done well by a woman starring in one of his films—poor Zazie Beetz doing this all over again—and he’s made some of the most deeply misogynistic mainstream films of the 21st century, so Harley, a legit great character, is in serious danger. 


She works as a foil to Joker, especially at the stage that she breaks out of his control and leaves their abusive relationship behind (this is what Margot Robbie captured so well in live action, and Kaley Cuoco in animation). I’m curious to see how much of the mechanics of Harley Todd Phillips understands, and for every Joker bro who insists these movies aren’t really comic book movies and they can just do whatever with them—Joker plays firmly within the existing known boundaries of DC, especially in a post-The Batman world. (It is VERY easy to imagine Phoenix’s Joker and Robert Pattinson’s Batman sharing the same Gotham.) So yes, there actually IS some fealty to the established character, and I want to see what Phillips does with it. Gaga, I am sure, can give an interesting performance. Her, I have confidence in. It’s Phillips I doubt.


I’m also curious to see how people receive Joker 2, as compared to Joker in 2019. We are like two years deep into “superhero fatigue” stories, and again, the Joker bros will insist this isn’t a superhero movie, but general audiences don’t split those hairs. They know Joker as a comic book villain, they will see this as a superhero movie, or at least, superhero-adjacent. Will they be tired of it now? I don’t think so, which is why I refuse to call the current state of the box office “superhero fatigue”. If Deadpool 3 and Joker 2 bomb, we can talk. But watch Joker: Folie a Deux be one of the biggest movies of the year. It won’t even have to be good, the first one wasn’t, it just has to have a catchy hook in the trailer, and if DC Films can do one thing, it’s make a good trailer.