Given its billion-dollar and Oscar-winning success, a sequel to Joker, Todd Phillips’ 2019 Scorsese fanfic, was always inevitable. No one leaves that kind of money lying on the table. And indeed, last week Phillips teased the sequel on Instagram, revealing the title, Joker: Folieà Deux, and Joaquin Phoenix reading the script (though it has been noted he has not yet closed a deal to return for the sequel. Hold out for that cash, Joaquin!).
Now, Lady Gaga is reportedly in talks to join the sequel as (another) Harley Quinn, which sheds some light on the sequel’s subtitle. “Folie à deux” is a shared psychosis that affects two or more individuals, often in the same family (a famous maybe-case is the Tromp family of Australia), so it’s an easy jump to a movie about Joker and Harley’s terrible relationship. It is also being reported that Joker 2 will be a musical, so just kill me now.
Just in case “a musical Joker sequel” sounds like maybe Todd Phillips, once again working with screenwriter Scott Silver on the script, has an original take, let me point you to the 1977 Martin Scorsese film, New York, New York starring Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli. They play musicians who hook up for lack of anything better to do, and then break up because he’s a sh-thead. They both become stars, though they never reconcile (basically La La Land but with domestic violence). Jimmy and Francine, the characters played by De Niro and Minnelli, respectively, have an obsessive but destructive personal relationship, and a can’t-quite-quit-you professional relationship that slings them into each other’s orbits over the years. I can 100% see Phillips once again cribbing his homework from Scorsese’s notebook and turning that into a Joker-Harley story.
Maybe he won’t! Maybe this time, he’ll make a fresh and original film that actually has something to say about Society! The Joker remains a good vehicle for that kind of thing. But Joker is a film without a perspective bolder than proclaiming “people are sh-tty”. (Back in 2019, I compared it to “a high school dork dressed in black scribbling ‘everyone is stupid’ in his notebook”.) I would really LOVE to be wrong about the sequel, but I let myself hope for a minute Todd Phillips could do something interesting with a standalone Joker movie, and he did not. I refuse to get sucked in again, especially for a MUSICAL.