Joker 2 Set Photos and Footage Reveal Lady Gaga’s New Harley Quinn

Lady Gaga has arrived on the set of Joker: Folie à Deux, and director Todd Phillips already has her doing criminal shenanigans as Harley Quinn.

Lady Gaga
Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

The Joker sequel is happening. For all director Todd Phillips‘s insistence that his 2019 movie Joker wasn’t a traditional superhero movie, complete with a seemingly definitive end for Clown Prince of Crime Arthur Fleck, he’s back with a sequel. That’s not too much of a surprise, given the $1.074 billion the R-rated movie earned at the box office.

What is a surprise, however, is the movie’s highfalutin title, Joker: Folie à Deux, and Phillips’s plans to make it a musical. This time, the returning Joaquin Phoenix is joined by Lady Gaga as Dr. Harleen Quinzel aka Harley Quinn. You can see the very first look at Gaga in the role in this Valentine’s message from Phillips posted back in February:

We’ve all been scratching our heads about what, exactly, this movie is supposed to be. The gritty take on the Joker certainly had its flourishes, most notably the heavily memed “Rock and Roll, Pt. 2” stairtop dance sequence. But nothing in the movie indicated what a Joker musical would look like. And the first set pictures from the new movie, which features Arthur Dent running from other Jokers, don’t help, either.

The latest photos leaked from set may give us a glimpse of Lady Gaga as Quinzel, but they don’t tell us much more about Phillips’s plans. The images show a bundled-up Quinzel, a gray cap pulled tightly over her bleach-blond hair, getting into a car.

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While there’s not much we can divine from these shots, there are a few compelling notes. Once again, we have confirmation that the movie takes place in the 1980s, and the heavy fog shows that Gotham is still the grimy place it was in the previous film. The warm clothing suggests a winter setting, which has served as the background for some pretty great Joker stories, including the Batman: The Animated Series classic “Christmas with the Joker.”

Perhaps the most interesting bit comes from footage taken from the set, showing the bundled-up Quinzel in action. The few seconds of video find Quinzel about to enter her era-accurate vehicle before deciding otherwise. Turning toward a shop front, she smashes its window and pulls out a portable television, running away with bystanders watching.

Although petty larceny has never been part of the story, the scene tracks pretty well with Harley’s established origin. First introduced in Batman: The Animated Series, Harley was psychologist Harleen Quinzel, who was working at Arkham Asylum when she was assigned to the Joker. Probing the depths of the Joker’s twisted mind broke Quinzel, eventually driving her to become Harley Quinn. As Harley has grown in popularity over the years, creators have sought to break her free from the “abused girlfriend” aspect of her story, giving her a romance with Poison Ivy and fully breaking up with the Joker, as seen in Birds of Prey and The Suicide Squad.

Judging from the set photos, it appears that Joker: Folie à Deux returns Harley back to her roots. But given Lady Gaga’s undeniable on-screen energy, it seems unlikely that she’ll be the same victim portrayed previously.

Joker: Folie à Deux releases October 4, 2024.