Joker: Folie à Deux Teases an Iconic Villain’s Second Act

Put on a happy face: the Clown Prince of Crime has returned.

Warner Bros.

Todd Phillips’ Joker got a fair amount of flack for cribbing so brazenly from the works of Martin Scorsese. The director spliced The King of Comedy with Taxi Driver to create a new take on the Clown Prince of Crime — and depending on who you ask, it’s either a masterpiece or an exploitative mess.

There’s a thin line between homage and pastiche, and Phillips’ leading man oscillates between one style and the next. If nothing else, Joker is certainly a novelty. An R-rated, nihilistic dive into the psyche of DC’s most notorious villain, it deserves some credit for updating the Joker’s origins. The choice to turn him into a viral star and the incidental leader of a class revolution could be considered hit or miss. Love it or hate it, though, there’s really nothing else like Joker. That is, at least, until its sequel finally arrives.

Joaquin Phoenix will reprise his role as Arthur Fleck, aka the Joker, in the upcoming Folie à Deux. In another thematic curveball, Phillips’ follow-up will pull from yet another tricky genre: the musical. Folie à Deux features covers of 15 classic songs, some performed by none other than Lady Gaga. Phillips stunned fans and critics by casting the singer as Harley Quinn, the Joker’s right-hand woman. It’s admittedly a risky choice, but it’s one that could push the Joker franchise into fresh territory, as its first trailer is already willing to prove.

Warner Bros. debuted its first trailer for Folie à Deux at CinemaCon, just a few hours after a discomforting teaser. The initial 30-second clip gave us our first look at Phoenix’s Fleck since he found himself locked in an asylum in Joker, and the intervening years clearly haven’t been too kind to our anti-hero. He’s cry-laughing — not singing — in the rain, all alone. But thanks to the official trailer for Folie à Deux, which gives us our first look at Gaga’s Harley Quinn, we know he won’t be alone for very long.

The trailer shows Fleck meeting Harley Quinn for the first time in Arkum Asylum, where they strike up an unbreakable connection — and perhaps a shared musical psychosis. The world transforms into an old-fashioned Hollywood musical, complete with dance numbers, bright colors, and love, sweet love.

“Folie à deux” refers to a delusion shared between two people. As the upcoming film has double the budget of the first Joker, we can expect a lavish, sweeping playground for Joker and Harley’s mutual madness. Folie à Deux was created on a whopping $200 million budget, so Warner clearly spared no expense. The upcoming film is a major gamble for the studio, even as the main DC Universe is rebooting under James Gunn’s watchful eye. That said, the first Joker was a billion-dollar hit; it’s safe to assume that Warner is expecting similar success.

Joker: Folie à Deux opens in theaters on October 4.

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