It’s a busy and attention-grabbing week for DC Studios. After the Super Bowl trailer for The Flash generated massive buzz, we now have our first look at Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn for Joker 2.
The sequel to the 2019 surprise critical and commercial hit "Joker" sees director Todd Phillips reunite with star Joaquin Phoenix. The first film was a billion-dollar box office hit and netted Phoenix an Academy Award for Best Actor. On August 4, 2022, Lady Gaga was confirmed to be joining the cast as the film’s version of Harley Quinn. While there have been a few images showing the production of Joker in progress, this is the first image of Lady Gaga as the character.
Director Todd Phillips shared the photo on his Instagram account with the caption "Happy Valentines Day", on the evening of February 14.
The image depicts Lady Gaga and Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker in each other’s arms, face-to-face. Interestingly, Phoenix’s Joker has his clown makeup on (although faded and smudged), while Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn does not. This scene could be prior to the character’s transformation into the more familiar look from the Batman mythos. Plus, given that this is going to be a musical feature, this scene may be during a song-and-dance sequence within the film.
It should be noted that just as this version of the Joker as Arthur Fleck is far from the comic book source material, it is likely Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn will also take a different route. It is possible she may not even be Dr. Harleen Quinzel, who was a psychologist interning at Arkham Asylum, that fell in love with the Joker, and was ultimately corrupted and driven insane.
Given the official title of the Joker sequel is Joker: Folie à Deux, perhaps this Harley is already an inmate of Arkham. The term Folie à Deux refers to a rare mental condition where two or more individuals share the same delusion or other disorder, possibly due to having close relationship between them. In the first Joker film, it was hinted that Arthur Fleck/The Joker is an unreliable narrator, as he may be remembering things and telling the story in a distorted way. This was reflected in the scene where Arthur realizes his relationship with Sophie (Zazie Beetz) was a figment of his imagination.
Harley Quinn had been previously portrayed in the DC Extended Universe by Margot Robbie, with Jared Leto as the Joker. However, the DCEU is being rebooted and DC Studios Co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran are taking a different direction with the new DC Universe. And while Robbie may or may not be returning to the Harley Quinn role for the DC Universe proper, the Joker stand-alone films are confirmed to be in the Elseworlds category, placing the events and the characters in an alternate reality. This is also the case for Matt Reeves's The Batman and its upcoming sequel.
Joker: Folie à Deux is currently targeted to take a bow in cinemas worldwide on October 4, 2024.