‘Joker: Folie a Deux’ Is a Musical Sequel to 2019’s Oscar-Winning ‘Joker’

"I like to say it's a film where music is an essential element. To me, that doesn't veer too far from the first film."

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Apr. 10 2024, Published 10:24 a.m. ET

Lady Gaga and Joaquin Phoenix kicking on steps in ‘Joker: Folie a Deux.’
Source: Warner Bros.

If you were one of the millions of people who saw Joker in 2019, you may have been amazed by the performances or the stunning score. You may have been shocked by its violent ending or amazed when it wound up winning Joaquin Phoenix an Oscar. What you likely weren’t amazed by, though, were the musical numbers.

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That’s obviously because the first film, with one notable exception, wasn't really a musical in any way, shape, or form. So, imagine the confusion when the teaser trailer for the sequel drops and makes it clear that Joker: Folie a Deux is a full-blown musical. Here’s what we know about why that is.

Lady Gaga and Joaquin Phoenix in ‘Joker: Folie a Deux.’
Source: Warner Bros.
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Is ‘Joker 2’ a musical?

The sequel to Joker is indeed a musical, and unlike some musicals from the past few years, its first teaser trailer doesn’t make any effort to hide that fact. While the teaser doesn’t offer a total picture of what the movie’s plot will be, it does give us our first look at Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn, who is joining the sequel and who meets the Joker in Arkham Asylum.

The teaser also gives us a sense of just how much of a musical Folie a Deux will be, and the answer seems to be that it will go all in, complete with pretty theatrical performances. It seems that most of the songs in the movie will be covers a la Moulin Rouge!, although it’s possible that those covers will also be combined and reimagined for the movie’s central characters.

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‘Joker’ isn’t a musical, so why is the sequel?

According to director Todd Phillips, who was also behind the camera for the first film, Folie a Deux’s introduction of the musical isn't a radical departure from the tone of the first film. "We never really talked about it like that, but I like to say it's a film where music is an essential element. To me, that doesn't veer too far from the first film," Todd said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

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"Arthur [Fleck]'s weird and aloof and all these things, but he has music in him. He has a grace to him,” Todd said. “That informed a lot of the dancing in the first film... it didn't feel like that big of a step here. It's different, but I think it'll make sense when you see it."

Todd also said that the decision to cast Lady Gaga in the film was a no-brainer. "We cast Gaga because she's magic. I was a producer on A Star Is Born ... That was the first time I really met her and got to watch her work. As we were writing this script, Scott [Silver], who I wrote it with, kept going back to her,” he explained.

Whether Todd’s big bet on making a musical will ultimately pay off remains to be seen. For now, though, the fact that he has made such a pivot to something completely new for the sequel certainly has people intrigued about what the final movie will ultimately look like when it’s released in the fall of 2024.

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