Todd Phillips wasn't thinking sequel when he made Joker. Still, the director has some idea of what he would want should a second movie be on the table (and with the record-breaking success of his King of Comedy-esque take on a comic book origin story, it has to be).
“It couldn’t just be this wild and crazy movie about the ‘Clown Prince of Crime,'” Phillips told the Los Angeles Times. “It would have to have some thematic resonance in a similar way that [Joker] does...I think that’s ultimately why the movie connected, it’s what’s going on underneath. So many movies are about the spark, and this is about the powder. If you could capture that again in a real way, that would be interesting.”
In the same piece, Joaquin Phoenix detailed his initial reluctance to take on a role in the world of comic book movies. “I remember, like eight years ago, I was told, ‘Movies are changing. They’re not making the movies that you want to make, so you’ve got to do one of these,’” Phoenix said. “It makes sense. It probably is a good strategy. But for me, I guess the fear was that you’d get locked into doing something repeatedly that you don’t really care about, that doesn’t motivate you or excite you.”
Even with his hesitation, Phillips said he knew he wanted Phoenix for the role, due to the actor's penchant for zigging where others would zag. “There’s a little wildness in Joaquin’s eyes,” Phillips said. “I jokingly say he seems like an agent of chaos. He likes blurring the line between what’s real and what’s not. Just based on what I’d seen of him in movies or on TV doing interviews, there was something about that chaotic nature that just felt right.”
A sequel is even more likely now that the prophecies of violence from cultural prognosticators did not come to pass. Phillips noted the movie has a positive idea at its heart and he believes audiences responded to that.
"Ultimately, the movie is about the power of kindness and the lack of empathy in the world, and the audience seems to have picked up on that," he said, "It’s amazing that a movie that was supposed to inspire, as they put it, mass mayhem really has just inspired a bunch of people dancing down staircases. I think that speaks more to our times than anything.”