WARNING: There are HUGE SPOILERS ahead for “Joker”. So please don’t read on if you’ve not yet seen Joaquin Phoenix’s mesmeric turn as the iconic Batman foe.
Come the end of “Joker”, co-writer and director Todd Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix’s violent and disturbing take on the legendary comic-book villain, everything is set-up for Arthur Fleck and Batman to one day do battle.
Fleck even comes face to face with a very young Bruce Wayne during “Joker”, when he plays with him through the gates of Wayne Manor, only for Alfred to intervene. Fleck makes this visit after he learns that Thomas Wayne might be his father, something the billionaire firmly denies, although the real answer is left very much up for debate.
During “Joker’s” conclusion the mass hysteria that has been started by Fleck’s murders leads to a humungous riot and looting across Gotham City, during which one of his thousands of followers murders Thomas and his wife Martha outside of a theater right in front of Bruce, who, just in case some people don’t know, eventually becomes Batman.
Fleck is eventually caught and locked up in Arkham Asylum for his crimes, and the final shot is of him running around its hallways, leaving bloody footprints behind him, having seemingly murdered his psychiatrist. Some have interpreted this to mean that all of the events in “Joker” actually unfolded in Fleck’s head, but that could easily be written around if a second film is greenlit.
But will there actually be a “Joker” sequel? At the moment it is actually kind of hard to tell.
Ahead of its release, Phillips insisted “Joker” would be a one-off. In fact, he told Empire Magazine that he wants “Joker” to kick-start a “new division” of Warner Bros films “called DC Black.”
Each of these films would be standalone stories, have minimal budgets of around $30 to $50 million, no CGI and take a darker and more grounded look at the likes of Batman, Superman and other DC characters, which Phillips believes would prove to be great counter-programming to Marvel’s seemingly unstoppable Cinematic Universe.
But then in August, Phillips told Total Film, “One thing I will tell you: I would do anything with Joaquin, any day of the week. There’s nobody like him. If he was willing to do it, and if people show up to this movie, and Warners came to us and said, ‘You know what? If you guys could think of something…’ Well, I have a feeling that he and I could think of something pretty cool.”
This immediately provoked speculation that a sequel to “Joker” would soon be forthcoming, if, as expected, it is a huge success at the box office.
Phillips quickly decided to clarify his previous remarks during a conversation with IGN, though, declaring, “We have no plans for a sequel.”
“The quote was, ‘I will do anything Joaquin wants to do.’ And I would. But the movie’s not set up to [have] a sequel. We always pitched it as one movie, and that’s it. We made this movie, I pitched it to Warner Bros. as one movie. It exists in its own world. That’s it.”
With “Joker” poised to make over $100 million in its opening weekend and discussion and interest in the film at a fever pitch, Warner Bros are almost certainly going to be dying for a follow-up. But the fact that Phoenix has never done a sequel means that, for the time being at least, a “Joker 2” actually happening looks remote.