The tale of Todd Phillips’ Joker is a hugely ironic one, and sums up Warner Bros.’ approach to their comic book properties in a microcosm.
Even though the R-rated psychological thriller only cost a reported $55 million to bring to life, the studio tried to dissuade director Todd Phillips from making it at all. So unconvinced were the top brass about the project’s potential that they wouldn’t even finance the production themselves, striking a deal that’d see the profits split between WB and another three companies.
As we all know, though, Joker went on to become one of 2019’s defining movies, rake in over a billion dollars at the box office to end up as the highest-grossing R-rated title and most profitable comic book adaptation ever made in terms of percentages, and win two Academy Awards from eleven nominations.
Of course, the sequel remains mired in uncertainty, too, with an early report claiming it was in active development being debunked by Phillips, although he did admit that conversations have been held. A more recent story hinted that he was loosely attached to script the second outing for Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck, and the latest addition to the rumor mill is that it may be based on the Batman: Three Jokers arc.
In the comic books, the Dark Knight realizes there are three separate versions of the Clown Prince of Crime causing chaos in Gotham, known as the Criminal, Clown and Comedian, each reflecting one of the many different interpretations of Mr. J’s personality. It would certainly fit the template established in the opener where everything that happens to Arthur may or may not be constructions of his own psyche, but we won’t know for sure where the next Joker film is heading until it’s 100% confirmed to be happening.