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Joker 2 Will Have To Answer The Original Movie's Best Mystery

If Joker 2 happens, it will have to answer whether the events in Joker were real or imagined. Here's how either would affect the sequel.

Joker 2 Biggest mystery Joker

Although nothing is confirmed yet, Joker 2 is a big possibility, and if it does happen, it will have to answer the first movie’s biggest mystery in order to move forward with a new story. Joker offered a new origin story for the Clown Prince of Crime that doesn’t link to previous works in DC’s movie universe nor did it make way for future installments – but its box office success and critical acclaim are a good motivation to give a sequel a shot.

With Alan Moore’s graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke as basis, Joker focused on Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a failed stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime in Gotham City after being constantly neglected by society. The story touched on topics like gun control, media’s influence on society, and mental illness, making it a very different “comic book movie” to the ones that have come out in recent years. One of Arthur’s main struggles was with mental illness, and the movie made it clear that not all events the audience saw were real, and some were a product of Arthur’s imagination.

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Related: Joker Is A Huge Success For WB (But They Won't Take All The Profit)

This made way for many theories that suggest the whole movie happened in Arthur’s mind and he never actually became the Joker. This was a topic of discussion for so long that it ended up becoming Joker’s biggest mystery, and one that Phillips hasn’t confirmed or denied. As result, Joker 2 will have to answer for him and put an end to the “real or imagined” debate.

How Much Was Real Is Joker’s Biggest Mystery

There’s enough evidence in Joker to believe that everything happened in Arthur’s head, and only some parts were actually set in the real world. Arthur has a very active imagination, which the audience could see early on in the movie when Arthur and his mother are watching Murray Franklin’s talk show. Arthur suddenly appears among the audience and is picked by Franklin to join him on stage. They start talking and Murray gives him a hug, telling him he could be no prouder of Arthur if he were his own son. This, of course, wasn't real.

The most disturbing fantasy happened later on, and it involved Arthur’s neighbor, Sophie Dumond (Zazie Beetz). The two meet in the elevator, where Sophie makes a “shoot me” gesture when her daughter begins to annoy her, which Arthur repeats when they get out of the elevator. This simple encounter was more than enough to trigger an obsession within Arthur, who begins to stalk her. Sophie later confronts him but doesn’t seem bothered by the stalking, and the two begin a romance. However, after Arthur kills his mother, he enters Sophie’s apartment and that’s when viewers learn that the whole relationship was in his head, as she doesn’t recognize him and politely asks him to leave.

This play between reality and fantasy has made some believe that Arthur’s laughing condition (which is a genuine medical condition called Pseudobulbar Affect) wasn’t real either. When Arthur goes full Joker, his sudden outbursts of laughter disappear, although this could be because this new persona gives him more confidence, and his involuntary laughter only occurred when he was under great stress. Either way, this uncertainty on what’s real and what’s not is the movie’s biggest unanswered question, and if Warner Bros. truly want to move forward with a sequel, this is the main topic they will have to address.

Related: Joker's Staircase Dance Scene Is The Movie's Defining Moment

Joker 2 Has To Give An Answer

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur in Joker movie

Joker was written as a stand-alone story that, even though it references other characters from Batman’s universe and even a young Bruce Wayne appears in it, holds no connection to other movies. With that in mind, the mystery of how much of Joker was real is not a big deal and it could stay unsolved for years without a problem – but if a sequel is to happen, it will have to give an answer on this. The consensus is that the only scenes that actually happened are those where Arthur is in Arkham Asylum, supported by how the clocks at the social services office and the one in his cell at Arkham show the same time (11:11). This raises another question about the ending, where Arthur leaves the cell and the soles of his shoes are painted with blood after presumably killing his psychiatrist: did this really happen or was it yet another fantasy?

The more viewers dig into it the more confusing it gets, so Joker 2 has a lot of work to do on that matter, and it’s not one they can just ignore as it would be very hard to build a sequel without telling if what happened in the previous movie was real or not. Even if the sequel goes for another elaborate fantasy courtesy of Arthur’s mind, it would be difficult (and confusing to viewers) to do so without solving Joker’s biggest mystery. They really have no other option than to confirm if it was real or imagined.

Why A Joker Sequel Should Reveal The First Movie Was Real

Joker Joaquin Phoenix

Making the events of Joker a product of Arthur’s imagination would further prove that he’s one of the most dangerous minds in Gotham, but it would also be a bit disappointing as it would mean that the sequel would have to start from scratch and show what Arthur has really been doing – or build another multilayered fantasy, which wouldn’t be that impressive because viewers would already know it’s all fake. On the other hand, revealing that the first movie was real (except for the aforementioned bits of fantasy, obviously) would open more doors for Phillips and company, giving them more opportunities to develop Arthur’s newfound evil persona and the consequences of his actions.

Choosing the path of reality would also allow the team behind Joker 2 to follow up on the riots, how these (as well as Martha and Thomas Wayne’s death) affected the city after Arthur’s confinement, and how the Joker’s image was used after the chaos. Combining reality with parts of fantasy worked wonders for the first movie, but it won’t have the same impact if used in the sequel simply because it has to answer the big question one way or another. There’s a lot of work to do if Warner Bros. moves forward with Joker 2, but if there’s something fans can be sure of is that Phillips and the rest of the crew won’t take it lightly.

Next: What Needs To Happen In The Joker Sequel

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