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Joker 2: Todd Phillips' return and everything we know so far

Joker 2
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

We live in a society where Joker 2 is going to happen. So, if anyone forgot, it's time to remember that the original Joaquin Phoenix-led Joker movie did so well at the box office (and with critics), that Warner Bros. Pictures is ready for another round of the early days of the clown prince of crime.

To recap, Todd Phillips' Joker took in more than $1 billion at the box office, and (unlike a lot of movies spawning from DC intellectual property) got serious raves from critics. Heck, Phoenix even took home the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for the film (which was also nominated for film of the year).

Will Phillips' Joker run afoul of Robert Pattinson's The Batman? What should we expect from this sequel? Let's find out.

Joker 2 release date speculation

We're far away from learning about when Joker 2 will arrive, as the latest news shows it's in the pre-production stage. Right now, we're thinking it will arrive in late 2023 or so. Here's why:

If you'd forgotten that Joker 2 was going to happen, you're not alone. News about the film had been simmering in the background for a while, until news of writer/director Todd Phillips signing onto "co-write the next Joker installment" was buried deeply in a The Hollywood Reporter story about the most powerful lawyers in Hollywood. That means, we're off to the races.

The original Joker movie took about two years to complete: script-writing took place in 2017, and the movie premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival in 2019. This is why we think late 2023 is around the time Joker 2 will debut. 

Joker 2 cast and crew speculation

We are so early in the Joker 2 cycle that we don't really know much about who to expect. That said, we'd be shocked if Joaquin Phoenix didn't come back to reprise the role of Arthur Fleck. IMDb currently lists his involvement as "rumored." 

The only way we could see Joker 2 happening without Phoenix is if it's a view of Mr. J from a completely different time in his life. A whole-new take on The Joker seems a bit too risky.

Sophie Dumond (as played by Zazie Beetz) is also possible to return, as Arthur did not kill Sophie. This was confirmed by cinematographer Lawrence Sher. She did not "wrong" Arthur, so he had no revenge to seek. 

Joker 2: is Joaquin Phoenix coming back?

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Then, let's also do a bit of recap for who can't come back — per the deaths in Joker. Of course, Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) isn't going to be in Joker 2, after he was shot in the head, live on air. Arthur's mother Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy) isn't coming back either, as he suffocated her with a pillow.

And, of course, don't expect to see Martha or Thomas Wayne (at least outside of a flashback), as Joe Chill shot them both.

But what about the Waynes' son? We hear he's got a new movie coming out, too.

Joker 2 Batman rumors

While there is a lot of desire for Batman to be in Joker 2, don't expect it. Such an appearance would require a time-jump forward of at least a decade, if not longer. And we're guessing Joker 2 will focus on the evolution of Mr. J, and not jump straight to the fully-formed Joker (the likely subject of a hypothetical Joker 3, which seems inevitable). 

As for what could happen with an eventual Batman appearance, we're not seeing any reason to expect Robert Pattinson in the Joker 2, Joker 3 or any forthcoming movie. Pattinson said to Yahoo that "It’s kind of a different world."

So, that means Joker will likely get his own version of Batman and Bruce Wayne.

Joker 2 plot possibilities

So, what exactly would happen in Joker 2? The first film ended in a way that felt both conclusive and open for a sequel, with Arthur Fleck gunning down TV host Murray Franklin on live TV. Then, we saw Bruce Wayne witness the murder of his parents by a clown-masked rioter. 

No details have leaked out about what events Joker 2 will focus on. Originally, Phillips wanted to do a series of DC villain origin movies, not a series of Joker movies. So Phillips coming back to the movie likely stems from either a big offer or a big idea (hopefully both).

What we can expect from Joker 2, though, is a serious emotional impact. Back in 2019, Phillips told Deadline that such a movie (were it to happen) "would have to have a real thematic resonance the way this one did, ultimately being about childhood trauma and the lack of love, and the loss of empathy. All those things are really what made this movie work for us, so we’d have to have something that had an equal thematic resonance."

Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past six-plus years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.