American pop icon, artist and style queen Lady Gaga made headlines with outrageous costumes and headpieces when she first hit the red carpet more than 14 years ago.
Sequined high pants with fishnet stockings, dresses made out of meat, arriving in a translucent egg, face-coverings and show-stopping mile-high boots were her signature style for a decade.
It was her way of telling a story that mattered, through costume.
Lately, she’s toned it all down with old Hollywood glamour on the red carpet, starring in serious cinema as an award-winning actress and singer in A Star is Born (2018) and more recently playing Patricia Reggiana in House of Gucci.
Now, she’s been tipped to play a role she was destined for – the female sidekick superhero (or anti-hero) Harley Quinn in a sequel to The Joker, the Oscar-winning, $1 billion-grossing, 2019 hit based on the DC villain.
Sources have told The Hollywood Reporter details on her character are “being kept under wraps” and she may “exist in a different DC universe than Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad”.
Either way, it’s perfect for Lady Gaga. She gets to dress up again, and sing.
Yes, THR sources claim it’s going to be a musical.
Working title Joker: Folie à Deux
Director Todd Phillips, who directed and produced Starsky and Hutch, the Hangover franchise starring Bradley Cooper and the first Joker, revealed on Instagram the title of the film – Joker: Folie à Deux.
In a second shot, actor Joaquin Phoenix, who won a best actor Oscar for playing the mentally unstable comedian Arthur Fleck, is seen reading the working script in his high-rise apartment, a clear sign he is set to reprise his role.
Folie à deux refers to a delusion or mental illness shared by two people in close association, suggesting the plotline may see the Joker team up with his old girlfriend Harley.
THR said the actor’s involvement is “not exactly a fait accompli just yet, as sources claim ‘Warners [Warner Bros] has yet to close a deal with the actor, with the two sides deep into it’.
“Details on her [Lady Gaga’s] character are being kept under wraps, but Joker is known for his on-off abusive relationship with Harley Quinn, his psychiatrist at the Arkham Asylum mental institution who falls in love with him and becomes his sidekick and partner in crime,” THR reported.
“It is unclear whether Phillips and company are using other DC characters or striking out on their own, as they did in many instances with the first movie.
“If a deal is made, Gaga would play Quinn.”
Why a musical makes perfect sense
Once the news sank in that the genre was being turned on its head by becoming a musical, multiple entertainment websites and fans on social media reckon it actually makes sense.
Techradar said it was an “inspired approach”.
“We’d argue that the prospect of this Joker breaking into song feels like the next logical step for the character, who often expressed himself through dance in the first film.
“Who could forget the haunting quasi-pirouettes that came after Arthur’s first murders, or the utter jubilation of his staircase dance following his total transformation into Joker?
One Twitter fan wrote: “Making Joker 2 a musical is genius, it alienates the movie from any guy who connected to the joker in the first one”.
“Gaga finally snatching the best actress Oscar and a Tony for the joker musical,” wrote another.
And this: “Joker 2 being a musical with the joker in the asylum delirious that he’s singing and dancing because of the meds just like it was in American Horror Story.”
“A comic book musical about the Joker and Harley Quinn is one of most interesting concepts to emerge from the genre in a very long time. If they pull it off, whew,” wrote THR contributor Richard Newby.
And this from Sydney-based lifestyle website gmarge.com: “This is quite surprising considering how grounded and gritty the first Joker was; although it explains why the studio is talking to Gaga – an accomplished singer and star of the insanely successful musical A Star Is Born.
“To be perfectly honest, we can’t really imagine Joker: Folie à deux as a musical.
“It’s such an extreme genre switch from the first film.
“That said, most of us were certain there’d never be a Joker performance that would rival Heath Ledger’s, and Joker and Phoenix certainly proved us wrong…
“Maybe they’ll surprise us again.”
Will Gaga use Dr Harleen Quinzel’s superpowers for good or evil?
There are many schools of thought on whether Quinzel, once she breaks away from the Joker and runs her own charmingly demented life, turns into a superhero, an anti-hero or a supervillain.
“Her love for [him] inspired Harleen to adopt a new identity, that of Harley Quinn, the Joker’s sidekick-slash-love interest—whether he wanted one or not. (Most of the time? He did not.)
“In time, Harley came to realise the Joker was holding her back and she struck out on her own. She became an entrepreneur and a member of several slightly less-than-reputable super teams (including the Suicide Squad), Gotham City’s all-girl gang the Gotham City Sirens, and a traveling sideshow.
“Along the way Harley has become one of the most popular super-villains in the DC Universe, thanks in part to her versatility, charisma and cheery-but-deranged outlook on life.
“After all, as Harley would say, if you’re going to go a little crazy, you may as well sit back and enjoy the ride!”