Joker 2 Is Doubling Down on Arthur Fleck’s Delusions

Send in the vocalists.

Warner Bros.

Joker was the twisted, gritty, Scorcese-inspired story of Arthur Fleck, a mentally ill loner with delusions of becoming a beloved comedian. Instead, he transforms into the poster child for a political movement. It’s a fascinating fable about fame and bloodshed built atop the image of the Clown Prince of crime, but it also presented a dilemma for director Todd Phillips. How do you top it?

The upcoming sequel, Joker: Folie à Deux, has more than double the budget of its predecessor and will introduce Lady Gaga as the Harley Quinn to Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker. That’s a big enough upgrade on its own, but there’s another twist: it’s a musical. Now, a new detail about Joker 2 proves it will double down on one of the first film’s weirdest elements, and create the strangest DC movie yet.

Are all the musical elements of Joker 2 the product of a shared delusion?

Warner Bros.

Variety reports that Joker: Folie à Deux will feature 15 “cover songs,” including “That’s Entertainment!” from the 1953 musical The Band Wagon (later recorded by Judy Garland). This suggests Joker 2 will be a revue-style musical incorporating well-known songs into its plot, rather than coming up with original creations. That’s quite the change from the grounded, realist world of Joker, and seeing our antiheroes burst into song, especially a well-known song, would require a lot of disbelief to be suspended.

That implies these songs will be performed in complex dream and fantasy sequences, an approach DC has flirted with before. When Harley is drugged in Birds of Prey, she has a hallucination that almost directly mirrors the “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” scene from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Now, however, such sequences will take up the bulk of the film.

Early images from Joker 2 suggest the old-school style musical numbers are separate from the reality of the movie.

Warner Bros.

Containing all the musical sequences to dreams and delusions would also explain a recent quote from Joker 2’s cinematographer. In a YouTube video, Lawrence Sher revealed that Joker 2 isn’t quite a musical. “It’s not a musical per se, it just has music in it,” Sher said. “The music is part of the film and the characters, but I don’t know if it’s a musical.”

That 15 songs are being covered suggests much of the movie will take place within Arthur and Harley’s minds, but that we’ll also see grounded sequences similar to the first Joker. Joker 2 is uniquely situated to balance the real world with a world full of fantasy musical sequences. So much of the first movie focused on Arthur’s altered sense of reality, creating a story with an unreliable narrator. In the sequel, this element can be heightened with songs we all know and love... and with a deluded dance partner for Arthur.

Comic book fans may not expect an all-singing, all-dancing musical spectacular, but incorporating lavish production numbers that don’t exist outside Arthur and Harley’s shared delusion is the perfect way to build on what the first movie established. Now we just have to speculate on what the Joker’s dream soundtrack looks like.

Joker: Folie à Deux hits theaters October 4, 2024.

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