Joker 2 won't be shying away from risks at all. It already looks like Todd Phillips will have another hit on his hands.
Joker 2: Lady Gaga and Joaquin Phoenix

The cinematographer of Joker: Folie á Deux, Lawrence Sher, gushed on the sequel’s progress, assuring audiences that the film is a “big swing” and will be nothing short of “surprising.” 

In 2019 Joker hit theaters and had huge success globally, cashing in over $1 billion at the box office. The film is focused on Arthur Fleck, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, an isolated party clown grappling with mental illness while living with his mother.

A sequence of events propels Fleck into the profound depths of his affliction, resulting in a chilling spiral into murder, chaos, and ultimately his transformation into the iconic Joker. Director Todd Phillips mesmerized movie-goers by presenting his raw and edgy take on the unfiltered origin story of the enduring DC villain. Within months of the release, a squeal was rumored and eventually green-lit by Warner Bros. 

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The Joker sequel, titled Joker: Folie á Deux, began production back in December 2022. Since then, we’ve been on a quest for even a hint of the potential storyline. Details about the much-anticipated project have been scarce. So naturally, when Sher gave an update on the project to Definition Magazine, it caused a little bit of a stir. Sher has consistently worked with Phillips as the director’s cinematographer since The Hangover days. The two have racked up seven different features together, including rewatchable hits War Dogs and Due Date. So if there is anyone who understands what Phillips is trying to accomplish with Joker: Folie á Deux it would be Sher. 

In Sher’s recent remarks, he characterizes the upcoming film as a “big swing,” hinting at an element of risk. Sher could be referring to the film’s genre. Early confirmations from Phillips indicated that Joker: Folie á Deux is set to break from tradition, embracing a musical format – a significant departure from the dark tone of its predecessor. Sher continued, saying the project will be,  “….really surprising to people. I’m so excited for everyone to see it.”

We’ve got the new Joker coming out next year and we’re just finishing up post-production on it. This movie is a big swing and it’s going to be really surprising to people. I’m so excited for everyone to see it.

Another relevant piece of news on this project is the cast. Phoenix will reprise his original role, for which he received an Oscar in 2020. However, the biggest headliner here is Lady Gaga taking on the role of Harley Quinn.

Lady Gaga’s stardom is rooted in the music industry, and one could argue she has one of the most defining pop voices in recent decades. Nonetheless, Gaga has been focused on her acting career in recent years. In 2018, she took a massive leap and was the leading lady in the critically acclaimed A Star Is Born, and most recently she appeared in 2021’s House of Gucci. Gaga’s powerful vocals and her emerging talent as an actress will contribute massively to Joker: Folie á Deux success as a musical.

RELATED: Harry Potter Star Brendan Gleeson Joins Exciting Joker Sequel

Let’s piece it all together now. Sher’s comments shouldn’t be taken lightly, considering he’s a cinematographer, not a trained media actor. In my experience, cinematographers don’t speak without purpose or hype up a film before its release. They typically maintain a low profile about their work, unlike actors who typically promote their projects no matter what the results may be. While this is a stereotype, I’m going to run with it.

I’m intrigued by the “surprise” factor Sher alludes to. Like a child eagerly anticipating Christmas, I want to give this wrapped present a shake and venture to guess what’s inside. As mentioned earlier, I believe Sher’s comments are targeted toward Joker: Folie á Deux breaking ground on the musical genre. The real surprise for the audience lies in how well Phillips’s version of the DC universe exists in a musical setting. If we take a look back at Joker, it will give us clues into the inspiration for the musical sequel Joker: Folie á Deux.

Musical References

Joker has secured a spot among my favorite films of recent years, and the notion of it embracing a musical format just feels right. The original film is riddled with musical motifs, and, in a few instances, directly references past musicals. For example, the scene where Fleck sits shirtless in his gritty apartment exposing his bony torso. He fiddles with a gun his co-worker gave him, tracing it delicately with his fingers. A black-and-white movie plays in the background – 1937’s “Shall We Dance,” a musical. Coincidence? I think not. Fleck dances along with the movie. BANG! The gun accidentally goes off in a dark comedic fashion. 

This musical motif surfaces again during a pivotal subway scene where Fleck encounters a group of Wayne employees later dubbed The Wallstreet Three. The train’s lights flicker intensely. Fleck, in a nervous fit of laughter, witnesses the trio harassing an innocent woman.

One of the men catches Fleck’s attention and devilishly breaks into song, “Isn’t it rich, aren’t we a pair…” He sings the song louder and starts to swing around one of the subway poles, walking towards Fleck. The song he performs is none other than Stephen Sondheim’s creation for the 1973 musical A Little Night Music, adding another layer to the film’s musical references. It’s these subtle nods that make the prospect of Joker: Folie á Deux embracing a musical format all the more intriguing.

Dancing…A lot of Dancing

Dancing is often associated with musicals; The two go hand-in-hand and the choreographer often plays as big a role as the music itself. I could honestly write an entire article describing all the dance scenes in this movie. To give you a sense of just how many times dancing arises in this movie, I’m going to rattle them off in list form. Here we go, (deep breath)… 

Fleck dances in the very first scene while a street performer plays ragtime on a piano, Fleck dances when he first accidentally shoots his newly gifted gun, Fleck dances with his mother after his “date” with his neighbor, Fleck dances in a public restroom after killing the Wallstreet Three. Not enough?…(deep breath)…Okay!  Fleck dances in front of Bruce Wayne as he shows him clown magic,

Fleck dances in the children’s hospital while singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, Fleck dances down the iconic stairway before being chased by detectives, Fleck dances away from the train station when the detective gets jumped and as all chaos breaks loose, Fleck dances when he is introduced on the Murray Show….The list goes on. Bottomline: Joker includes a total of twelve scenes involving dance. For a movie that is extremely violent and “not a musical”, that’s a whole lot of dancing.  

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The Ending

A pivotal moment that offers a glimpse into the potential of Joker: Folie á Deux unfolds in the last scene of the Joker film. Fleck, seated across from a social worker in what seems to be the confines of Arkham Asylum, cigarette in hand, and his laughter echoing uncontrollably. The social worker, puzzled, queries, “What’s funny?” Fleck’s response, a cryptic “You wouldn’t understand.”

Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” begins to play, and Fleck quietly joins in, rendering a whisper of soulful revelation. The scene transitions to Fleck strutting down an Arkham hallway, leaving bloody footprints behind him.

At the end of the hall, in rhythm with the music, Fleck gives us a showman’s spin and delivers an Elvis-inspired pelvis thrust right on cue. The Arkham security team begins to chase him down, and then a vintage “The End” title appears. The title with a cursive font reminiscent of movies from the ’20s, an era when musicals held sway. This climactic sequence serves as a tantalizing preview of what the musical journey in Joker: Folie á Deux may come to life. 

RELATED: The Joker Will Never Be Voiced By Mark Hamill Ever Again For A Heartwarming Reason

In Sher’s interview with Definition Magazine, he praised Phillips, noting, “Something I appreciate about Todd Phillips is that he’s always taking risks.” It’s refreshing to see a director of Phillips’ stature open to pushing boundaries and exploring new genres – a rarity in the landscape of superhero blockbusters of today. 

I envision Phillips in a metaphorical casino, riding high on the success of Joker, ready to double down with Joker: Folie á Deux. Double down on the daring choices that made Joker a triumph. Going all in on dance sequences and crafting a full-blown musical experience in a style that promises to be unprecedented and gritty. Joker: Folie á Deux has officially wrapped production and is nearing completion. The film is on track to release in October 2024. 

What do you think about Lawrence Sher’s comments? Are you excited for Joker: Folie á Deux? Is there another musical that could be compared this to?  Let us know on social media, and keep following The Illuminerdi for more breaking news and content like this. We’re always watching.


Source: Screen Rant


Picture of Gabe Rios

Gabe Rios

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Gabe Rios spent his youth in the blue-carpeted aisles of Blockbuster. He rented stacks of DVDs with his father every weekend. Favorites included The Matrix, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Seven, and The Big Lebowski. This passion soon became an obsession with film, writing, and all things pop culture. Today, Rios writes for The Illuminerdi, has been a casting director for a handful of indie projects, and is in the process of creating a feature film.