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Lady Gaga will star in the next Joker film, but will it repair the damage from the first one?

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Leah Sinclair
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Lady Gaga

After the 2019 film faced criticism for its depiction of violence and mental health, can the Joker sequel distance itself from the controversy?

Lady Gaga fans – we’ve got some good news for you.

The multi-hyphenate has announced that she will star in the next Joker movie titled Joker: Folie à Deux, opposite Joaquin Phoenix.

The star shared the news on social media, posting a video clip of her and Phoenix dancing in the shadows to Cheek to Cheek, a song Gaga covered alongside Tony Bennett.

Gaga was reportedly in early talks to play Harley Quinn in the upcoming Joker sequel, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter, which also indicated that the project is being developed as a musical.

The news of Gaga’s involvement in the film has caused excitement among fans.

LADY GAGA CONFIRMED FOR JOKER 2??!!! OMFG A NEW CAREER HIGH IS COMING SHE’S ABOUT TO DOMINATE THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY,” commented one Twitter user, while another said:  “Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn opposite Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is some of the best casting DC has done in a while. She’s going to absolutely kill it.”

While many are celebrating Lady Gaga being cast in the Joker sequel, the news has led many to discuss the controversy surrounding the first film and its depiction of mental health and violence, which was widely criticised.

“Remember when Joker came out and the mass hysteria surrounding it and how there was going to be shootings and explosions at theatres but now the sequel is a musical starring Lady Gaga,” one commented on Twitter.

“why did god allow the joker 2 movie to exist, have we not suffered through enough incel behaviour,” another said.

The original 2019 Joker film was a commercial success but widely debated for the level of violence featured in the film and concerns over it highlighting incel culture.

The families of victims killed in the 2012 mass shooting at a Dark Knight Rises screening also wrote a letter to Warner Bros expressing their concern at the time.

In 2019, director Todd Phillips told TheWrap he was surprised by the controversy surrounding the film.

“I’m surprised… Isn’t it good to have these discussions?” he said. “Isn’t it good to have these discussions about these movies, about violence? Why is that a bad thing if the movie does lead to a discourse about it?”

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While Phillips mentioned leading a discourse around discussions of violence, there is a difference between glorifiying and glamourising violence – and the film arguably didn’t add to this discourse, which is why it elicited so much concern among some audiences.

But with a new film on the horizon, we could be seeing a shift. The casting of Gaga, who is a known mental health advocate and has a large LGBTQIA+ fanbase, indicates an evolution in the demographic they are trying to reach that goes beyond the straight, white, die-hard DC comic book fans that were primarily associated with the initial film.

And with news that Joker: Folie à Deux will be a musical, the Joker world as we know it could undergo a radical change that distances itself from the criticism the initial film faced in 2019.

Whatever your stance is on the Joker, it’s clear to see that it continues to polarise fans and critics alike – and with Gaga attached to the project this is sure to get bigger.

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Leah Sinclair

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