Lady Gaga is playing Harley Quinn in Joker: Folie à Deux, and this new version of the character is already different from Margot Robbie’s. As successful as Joker (2019) was, a Joker sequel with both director Todd Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix returning was never a given. Joker worked perfectly fine as a standalone story, which made the Joker 2 announcement quite intriguing. Still, the casting of Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn for Folie à Deux has since made the Joker sequel even more promising.
DC’s live-action films, like DC Comics, are not strange to different versions of the same character existing simultaneously. For example, both Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton will return as Batmanin The Flash, and the upcoming DC Universe’s Brave and the Bold will have a new Batman entirely that isn’t connected to Robert Pattinson’s. The Harley Quinn situation is closer to the Robert Pattinson one, as Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn will not have any multiverse connections to Robbie’s or the DC Universe – Joker 2 is an Elseworlds standalone story. With that said, here are five ways Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn already differs from Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.
5 Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn Will Be A Musical Take In Joker 2
Joker 2 is being described as a musical, meaning that it will be a very different sequel compared to the first movie. In that scenario, Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn will probably be involved in several musical numbers throughout Folie à Deux, which makes Gaga’s casting even more exciting. Though an argument can be made that musical films in which the main actors are not singers can lead to some interesting surprises, having Lady Gaga play Harley Quinn in a musical Joker sequel seems like a perfect match. In addition, having DC’s new Harley Quinn in a musical film sets Lady Gaga’s version apart from Margot Robbie’s right away.
While Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn did have a musical number in Birds of Prey, that was far from being a defining trait of the character. As a character placed in a world where aliens and magic exist, Robbie’s Harley Quinn was very much an action antihero. Some of Harley Quinn’s best moments in the DCEU were action-driven ones, such as the elevator scene in Suicide Squad or the precinct invasion sequence in Birds of Prey. Joker was not an action-packed movie, and the same can be expected for the sequel, even more so with Joker 2 set to be a musical.
4 Gaga’s Harley Quinn Will Have A Different Joker Relationship Than Robbie’s
Perhaps the biggest difference between Gaga’s Harley and Robbie’s Harley is that the former will have her origin story told on screen. Though not much is known about Joker 2’s story, the film is expected to portray how Joker’s abusive relationship with Harley Quinn began in this universe and how their obsession with one another came to be. Given how grounded the Joaquin Phoenix-led Joker was, which does not necessarily mean it was a perfectly realistic portrayal of any specific mental illness that might relate to Joker’s character, it will be interesting to see how Joker 2 addresses the relationship between Joker and Harley Quinn.
In the DCEU, Harley Quinn’s origin story was limited to quick montages throughout the first Suicide Squad. The movie established that Harley used to work at Arkham Asylum and that Joker was her patient, yet it jumps to Harleen Quinzel becoming the Joker’s partner right away without any on-screen development. In fact, most of Robbie’s Harley Quinn story takes place at a point in which the character no longer wanted to be with the Joker. The Joker only had a few scenes in 2016’s Suicide Squad; Birds of Prey was precisely about Harley’s emancipation, and The Suicide Squad did not involve the Joker at all.
3 Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn Will Be Darker Than Margot Robbie’s
A reasonable assumption is that Gaga’s Harley Quinn will be a much darker take on the character compared to Robbie’s, mostly because of how different Joker was from the DCEU movies. Though both Birds of Prey and The Suicide Squad were R-Rated, those two films, as well as Suicide Squad, were a combination of action and comedy placed in the superhero blockbuster movie genre. That is the opposite of what Joker, a film that tries to distance itself from any comic book movie tropes, wanted to achieve. The Todd Phillips film isn’t focused on the action or the iconography of the Joker, which added to Joker’s more grounded, darker story.
There is nothing to suggest that the Joker sequel will not be as serious and dark as the first film, especially with Harley Quinn as a part of the story. DC animated shows like Batman: The Animated Series, for which Harley Quinn was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, and even the main DC comics often do not get deep into everything wrong about Joker and Harley’s relationship – the Harley Quinn cartoon being an exception. This is something Joker 2 can highlight, which will necessarily make Lady Gaga’s Harley a darker, more grounded take on the iconic DC character.
2 Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn Will Not Be Part Of A Larger DC Universe
One way to set Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn apart from Margot Robbie’s is to remember that the former will not be part of a larger DC Universe of movies and shows. Gaga’s Harley Quinn will most likely never interact with a full-fledged Batman or fight alongside The Suicide Squad, for example. Joker: Folie à Deux, just like the first Joker, will not be connected to any larger DC franchise or continuity – it will be a self-contained story whose connections will be limited to the first Joker only, if at all. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, on the other hand, is still the Harley Quinn for the DCEU at this time.
Whether Margot Robbie will return as Harley Quinn in DC Studios’ new DC Universe is difficult to say, but up until this point, Harley has shared the screen with several other DC heroes and villains. For example, Harley Quinn briefly interacted with Ben Affleck’s Batman in Suicide Squad, was part of two different Suicide Squad iterations, helped form the Birds of Prey, and has recently fought Starro in The Suicide Squad. As such, in terms of the story and the world they are placed in, Lady Gaga and Margot Robbie’s versions of Harley Quinn could not be more different.
1 Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn Could Be A One-Off
It is too soon to say whether Joker 3 will happen. Still, considering that Todd Phillips’ Joker was envisioned as a self-contained movie whose sequel was never guaranteed despite the film’s record-breaking box office run, it is safe to say that Joker: Folie à Deux is being treated as a one-off as well. That does not mean Joker 3 will not happen, only that a third entry in the Joker universe might be as unlikely or even more unlikely than Joker 2 was at some point. In that scenario, Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn could be a one-off, whereas Margot Robbie has played Harley for four films now.
Right until Joker: Folie à Deux was announced, it seemed unlikely that Joaquin Phoenix would reprise his role as the Joker, as Joker did not ask for an immediate sequel. Therefore, it is not too far-fetched to imagine that Lady Gaga might play Harley Quinn in just one film. It won’t be surprising if Joker3 never happens, as the Joker series is not necessarily meant to be a trilogy or the beginning of a Joker universe with multiple films and spinoffs. Even if Gaga does play Harley again in a hypothetical Joker3, Robbie’s Harley will still have the most appearances, as she is part of the DC Universe.
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