Three years after Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker captivated and creeped out audiences, Oscar-nominated director Todd Phillips has announced the film’s much anticipated sequel; Joker: Folie à Deux.
Phillips will once again team up with co-writer Scott Silver for the film. The script cover page confirming this reunion was shared on Instagram by the director, followed up by a black and white photograph of Joaquin Phoenix enjoying a cigarette while reading through the script. The script itself is a curious piece of work – there weren’t any plans for a sequel given the neatly-bookended nature of the original story.
Warner Bros. had, however, signed Phillips to write a sequel – a studio move that even Joaquin Phoenix did not know about, although he had admitted that there ‘were more stories they could explore for the character’.
Phillips himself has said that he would not return for a sequel unless the script was able to tap once more into the ‘thematic resonance’ at the core of the first film’s success. While plot details are almost nonexistent for the sequel, we can take a vague guess at the one strong hint we do have – the film’s title.
First conceptualized in the 19th century by Charles Lasègue and Jules Falret, this psychological condition is also known as shared delusional disorder or SDD. It manifests in the form of delusions and sometimes even hallucinations that transmit between a pair of people.
The most commonly known causes of SDD are social isolation and stress – both of which result in a co-dependant relationship between the two individuals. Case reports suggest a wide variety of shared delusions – from being tracked and followed by government spies, or even bizzare fantasy theories that have resulted in real-life murders.
Bat-fans will already notice the obvious inference here – the twisted yet iconic portrayal of Joker and Harley Quinn’s relationship, well-documented in dozens of seminal comic books, TV shows, and even videogames.
The original tale at work here is well-narrated in DC Comics’ Batman: Harley Quinn.
The iconic 1999 comic explores how at Arkham Asylum, a young, bright psychologist named Harleen Quinzel begins to work with the Joker, before developing a crazed romantic interest in the villain.
The Joker revels in this and the two hatch a plan to break him out of the asylum together – with Harleen eventually leaving behind her past as a psychologist, donning the iconic harlequin costume associated with her today, and becoming the Joker’s love interest, partner in crime, and regular victim of abuse.
This ties in almost perfectly into the ending of Joker, where we see Phoenix’ character sowing chaos inside Arkham Asylum.
Joker became a critical success almost overnight – bagging a stunning 11 Oscar nominations and taking home the awards for Best Actor and Best Original Score. With the next film promising an even deeper reflection into society’s darkest shadows, we can’t wait for Phillips and Silver’s storytelling to disturb and captivate us once more.
(Featured Image Credits: @toddphillips/Instagram, Warner Bros.)