Joker star Joaquin Phoenix has reportedly been offered $50 million for two sequels to the Batman spinoff film. The Mirror claims to have an inside source who is claiming that, "Joaquin initially felt Joker was a standalone movie. But he's changed his tune now. He says he wants to play this character again, despite the controversies that came with the release last year. "It's still being negotiated but the scripts are being written and Joaquin is very engaged with it." This is a big jump from the much more ambivalent stance that Joker Todd Phillips had about Joker 2, back at the start of 2020.
In January, Phillips doused any rumors that Joker 2 was moving ahead - a story that broke online back in fall 2019. According to Phillips, he and Joaquin Phoenix weren't motivated to do a sequel unless the right inspiration struck - not because of Joker's billion-dollar success:
"When a movie does $1 billion and cost $60 million to make, of course it comes up," Phillips said. "But Joaquin and I haven't really decided on it. We're open. I mean, I'd love to work with him on anything, quite frankly. So who knows? But it 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."
According to The Mirror's source, Warner Bros. is now looking to push the financial appeal of Joker 2 and 3 to a point that even an "artist's artist" like Joaquin Phoenix will have to consider it:
"They plan to make two sequels in the next four years, with a long-term commitment to Joaquin and his Joker director Todd Phillips and producer Bradley Cooper. It's all about getting Joaquin to accept the terms – and the biggest payday of his career by far."
Many DC fans thought Joker managed to catch lightning in a bottle - if then even liked the Batman villain's reimagined origin story. At the same time, there were very few calls for the film to get a sequel, as the standalone nature of the story seemed like a much better prospect for both Joker and the larger DC movie standalone format. However, those were thoughts and impressions of an old world, before 2020 arrived to rock us to the core.
Now, the continuing story of how Arthur Fleck becomes the symbol of chaos and social upheaval in Gotham City suddenly has much more real-world resonance. In fact, Joker 2 could simply pick up from the final moments of the first film: With Gotham burning, rioters and protesters running the streets, and "Joker" standing at the forefront of it all, like some sick mascot.
Other speculation has pointed to Joker sequels taking a sort of anthology approach, where The Joker's origin story is once again told, only in a completely different fashion, with Joaquin Phoenix being the only connecting factor. With the big changes in the world during 2020 and the variety of Joker origin tales we've gotten from DC Comics over the years, the playing field is wide open.