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No laughing matter: Todd Phillips is already down to direct a Joker sequel

By Josh Weiss
Joaquin Phoenix Joker

Todd Phillips' Joker origin movie isn't even out yet, and the director is already willing to undertake a sequel. Unlike the titular character of his comic book film, Phillips isn't joking in the slightest.

"One thing I will tell you: I would do anything with Joaquin [Phoenix], any day of the week,” Phillips told Total Film about the prospect of a follow-up. “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.”

Set in the early 1980s, Joker follows the rise of Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) as he goes from failed comedian to Gotham City's Clown Prince of Crime. While the villain's origin has always been a little muddled in the comics (a purposeful decision meant to shroud him in an aura of mystery), Phillips is looking to tell a clear-cut backstory, one that harkens back to psychological study flicks of the 1970s, like Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver. That movie's main lead, Robert De Niro, also shows up here as talk show host Murray Franklin, who is meant to pay homage to another famous Scorsese picture, The King of Comedy.

Check out two new photos from Joker below:

During a recent interview with USA Today, Phillips talked about how his top-billed actor was "unusually comfortable" in the central role, which has forced previous actors to draw from the darkest places of the human psyche.

"There are times where you’re going to feel yourself connected to him, and rooting for him, and times when you should be repulsed by him," Phoenix told Total Film about Fleck. "And I like that idea of challenging the audience, and challenging myself to explore a character like that. It’s rare to explore characters like that in any movies, but specifically in the superhero genre."

The rest of the project's ensemble cast is comprised of: Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Marc Maron, Shea Whigham, Bill Camp, Brian Tyree Henry, Bryan Callen, and Josh Pais.

Joker opens in theaters Oct. 4 after two premieres at the Venice and Toronto film festivals.