There could be more Joker on the table for Joaquin Phoenix if this first film is a success. While that may sound like a no-brainer in this day and age—especially for a comic book adaptation—the whole idea behind Joker originated as a way to move away from franchise storytelling. For those unaware, Joker is an original, standalone story loosely based on the titular comics villain, with Phoenix playing an aspiring standup comedian in 1970s Gotham City.
The film draws almost nothing from the comics, and it began as a pitch from co-writer/director Todd Phillips to Warner Bros. as a way to create a one-off, character-centric adaptation of a DC Comics character with no strings attached. At the time when Joker was announced, Warner Bros. was in the midst of reworking its plans for its DC movies, devaluing interconnectivity in favor of really nailing individual movies. Joker would go one better, recasting the title role and telling a story that had nothing to do with the existing DC movies. The idea was that one-offs like this could attract major talent like Phoenix and Philips without the fear of having to sign a contract to appear in four additional sequels and spinoffs, or stick to previously established universe rules.
But it sounds like Phillips and Phoenix had such a good time making Joker that they’re not ruling anything out. Speaking with Total Film, Phillips actually sounds pretty keen on the idea of Joker 2:
“One thing I will tell you: I would do anything with Joaquin, any day of the week,. 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.”
This doesn’t mean there absolutely will be a Joker sequel, but given the entire concept behind the film, it’s definitely interesting to note that Phillips isn’t at all opposed to the notion of continuing the story.
Of course we first have to see how audiences and critics respond to Joker, which is getting a splashy debut at the Venice Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival before hitting theaters on October 4th. If the R-rated film makes an impression, and if Phoenix is interested in making his first-ever sequel, we might just see Joker become a franchise after all.