Joaquin Phoenix was an unexpected addition to the world of comic book movies, but his contribution to the genre was equally unexpected. He and Todd Phillips built a new world and history for one of the most iconically wicked characters we’ve ever had with Joker. And now, trusted and verified sources at Giant Freakin Robot reveals that there will be many more stories in this realm, with Joker now planning a trilogy of films.
Right now, we don’t know much about how this Joker trilogy will wind up playing out. We know that when the first film finished, Joaquin Phoenix’s character Arthur Fleck had accomplished a cinematic tour-de-force as we watched him transition from disgruntled failing standup comedian to murdering psychopath. It was a gradual burn that was at times uncomfortable, but it afforded one of the first true glimpses into how the Joker could become the Clown Prince of Gotham. A trilogy of films, or the next two, would most likely continue up after the events of the first (obviously), but could also begin to solidify his role in both Gotham and the criminal underworld.
Another intriguing aspect of this Joker-centric trilogy is how they will handle the greater DC universe in this trilogy. We know that in the first film, Joaquin Phoenix didn’t have to engage with any of that world, opting instead to focus on a bottled origin tale and ignoring the larger comic book universe. That was partly because they wanted to see how well this picture did; it was scripted as a single feature because they didn’t want to bring in any other legacy characters until they knew if the original film would succeed. But it’s also possible that this Joker operates in Gotham for a long period before colliding with some of the other characters, most notably Batman.
There were speculations circulating a while back that if the Joker made a sequel, Batman: Three Jokers would be one of the source comic books they would use. That narrative is a spiritual successor to The Killing Joke and Death in the Family in terms of plot. Of course, they’re all Batman comics, so the Caped Crusader is a natural fit. Three Jokers, on the other hand, has a theme that could be developed without Batman.
It’s a narrative in which Joaquin Phoenix isn’t the only one painted as the Joker; there are others who go by the same name. This would correspond to the conclusion of the first film, in which Fleck had influenced a slew of people to act and look like him.
Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix have both agreed to return for the sequel to The Joker. But we can now expect that this isn’t the end of the story; another film is in the works, completing one of the most unlikely comic book trilogies in recent memory.