News of a sequel to Todd Phillips’ Joker movie broke in early June, and now we’ve been thrown a major curveball for what to expect from the next installment of the nihilistic clown franchise. As first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Lady Gaga has officially joined the cast to play the role of the Joker’s partner and paramour Harley Quinn, and, apparently, the film will be a musical.
Gaga tweeted a teaser on August 4 confirming the news, as well as the rumor that Joker: Folie à Deux will release on October 4, 2024. This tracks with reports that filming is set to begin at the end of this year. The Wrap claims via insider knowledge that the film will take place largely in Arkham Asylum, which is where the first film left off with Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck. This would make sense given “folie à deux” roughly translates to “shared madness,” and in most iterations, the asylum is where Quinn and Joker meet, with her serving as a doctor he ultimately corrupts.
The prospect of casting Gaga is an intriguing one. She proved her acting bonafides with an acclaimed turn in A Star is Born and in House of Gucci she displayed a strong command of melodrama. The first Joker film toes the line between psychological drama and operatic tragedy, and Gaga could prove a fitting foil for Arthur Fleck. She has the chops to keep up with the film’s shifting tones, and obviously, if the musical angle proves true, she’ll lead the cast in that department.
The live action Harley Quinn role has most recently been played by Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, and The Suicide Squad. In 2021, comic book news source That Hashtag Show reported that Warner Bros. was making a Birds of Prey sequel, but that Robbie would not be reprising her role. Phillips previously said that he would not incorporate Robert Pattinson’s Batman character into the Joker films, so it seems unlikely that there will be any connection to other existing DC Comics movies.
The claim that the film will be a musical is even more surprising than Gaga joining the cast. But two of the most widely referenced scenes from 2019’s Joker are Phoenix’s gleeful dance down a staircase soundtracked by “Rock and Roll Part 2” and another of him dancing in a bathroom to one of composer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s scores (for which she won an Academy Award)s, so perhaps that inspired the writers to really lean into the musical aspect of the film.
In an interview with The Guardian, Guðnadóttir said she was awed by how Phoenix’s performance synced with her score. “It was completely unreal to see the physical embodiment of that music. His hand gestures were the same types of movements that I felt when I wrote the music. It was one of the strongest collaborative moments I’ve ever experienced.” A musical Joker sequel would obviously provide more opportunities for Phoenix’s kinetic acting style.