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It seems like director Todd Phillips’ newfound openness to a Joker sequel with “thematic resonance” wasn’t just talk: The supervillain film broke an R-rated record at the box office and made a cool billion for Warner Bros. Now multiple industry reports indicate that Phillips is in talks to go back to the gritty world of DC — but like the film itself, what’s reality and what’s not is up for debate.
Variety and The Hollywood Reporter both claim that Phillips is in talks to return to the Clown Prince of Crime’s story, after a meeting with Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich. Phillips would reportedly return to helm, and he’d also co-write with his Joker screenwriter, Scott Silver. And Joaquin Phoenix would theoretically be there, too — the actor has sequel options from the original film. However, according to those reports, talks are still very early: No deal is yet in place, and no script is yet being written.
That said, Deadline and The Wrap rebut this story. The outlets both cite sources stating that no sequel is planned, no meeting took place, and that Phillips has apparently been incommunicado with Warner Bros. with regard to following up the biggest R-rated movie of all time. Any talks that may or may not actually be happening, one such insider told The Wrap, are purely in the beginning stages.
That said, it seems that escaping the pull of what is now the highest-grossing R-rated film in history may eventually be impossible, as Arthur Fleck’s Joker origins already seemed to captivate Phillips for a potential second film back in August. However, what exactly that sequel would explore is up in the air.
The Batman director Matt Reeves is already populating his Gotham with a rogues' gallery of A-listers for this take on the Caped Crusader's early days — it’d be weird to have two Batmen running around in the DCEU. As for Joker’s main squeeze, Harley Quinn, well, she’s got a new TV show and upcoming film all about getting away from the villain.
The Hollywood Reporter also puts forth that Phillips came away from the Emmerich meeting with “the rights to at least one other DC story” after a pitch. That's a big departure from Phillips' original experience pitching his gritty, standalone takes on DC heroes, which he described back in August when he divulged that he'd suggested the creation of something called DC Black, a label at Warner Bros. specifically used to test out alternate takes on famous comic characters. Warner Bros. wasn't impressed. “They’re like, ‘Calm down with the label — how about you do one movie?’” Phillips said a few months back.
Now, according to THR at least, it seems like the timing was right to reconsider another DC story from Phillips. But, like the rest of the developments on the Joker front, the line between reality and fantasy is getting ever blurrier, as the other trades dispute this claim.
Where do you think a potential sequel to Joker could go? And who would it involve?