Todd Phillips’ Joker: Folie à Deux will be set in Arkham Asylum, suggesting that more than a couple classic Batman villains can appear in the sequel to 2019’s Joker. This includes Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn, who in the comics was the Joker’s psychotherapist at Arkham. Though the title — Folie à Deux, or “folly of two” — implies that the sequel will revolve around Arthur Fleck and Harley Quinn’s relationship, it’s only a matter of time until the other denizens of Gotham’s infamous Arkham Asylum are revealed. Whether the events in Joker were real or just fabricated by Arthur’s mind, Joker: Folie à Deux seems to have ample room for introducing more DC villains.
Arkham Asylum actually doesn’t exist in Todd Phillips’ Joker universe — at least not yet. Instead, it’s called Arkham State Hospital — a more realistic name to fit Phillips’ grounded take on Batman’s worst enemy. Joker: Folie à Deux could combine this gritty, realistic version of Gotham City with elements of a classic theatrical musical, a potentially compelling and actually original introduction for the ever-popular Dr. Harleen Quinzel.
Joker: Folie à Deux’s Arkham Asylum tour is bound to reveal much about Todd Phillips’ version of Gotham City. Whichever classic Batman villains are committed to the Arkham State Hospital could also determine the future direction of Phillips, Phoenix, and now Lady Gaga’s Joker universe. Here’s every DC villain who could appear in Joker: Folie à Deux’s Arkham Asylum.
The great nephew of Amadeus Arkham and heir to the Arkham legacy, Jeremiah is the chief psychiatrist of Arkham Asylum. Notably, Jeremiah tortured his patients and eventually became the second Black Mask. Despite his sadistic nature, Jeremiah believed that he could somehow rehabilitate Gotham’s worst criminals and release them into society. Jeremiah Arkham’s background would fit perfectly within Phillips’ Arkham State Hospital and Arthur and Harley’s story in Joker: Folie à Deux. By using a realistic character with actual blood ties to Gotham’s infamous criminal psychiatric institution, Joker: Folie à Deux could better distinguish itself from the DC original series Arkham Asylum.
Guy Dax is a highly respected French neurosurgeon who disguises himself as a hunchback in order to commit crimes as Le Bossu. Apart from using a prosthetic mask to transform into his grotesque alter ego, Le Bossu hires thugs dressed up as gargoyles to assist him during his secret sociopathic activities. When Dax used his credentials to infiltrate Arkham Asylum, he institutionalized Batman and Nightwing, and he even freed the Joker, who then mutilated Dax and rendered him mute. This is despite the fact that Dax idolized the Joker. It wouldn’t be surprising if Joker: Folie à Deux adapts such an obscure character from Joker’s history. From the way Joker ended, it’s easy to imagine Le Bossu’s story merging with Arthur Fleck’s. In fact, out of all the villains on this list, Le Bossu is the one who truly lines up with the most disturbing elements in Joker.
Also known as Dr. Jonathan Crane, Scarecrow is a former psychologist who became obsessed with using drugs and psychological tactics to research the effects of fear. Though Jonathan was initially motivated by scientific discovery, he eventually enjoyed the practical experiments involved with his research, eventually becoming the Scarecrow and turning his drugs against Gotham’s citizens and Arkham Asylum’s inmates. Scarecrow’s nihilistic views on life and the way he mirrors Batman — just like Joker — could make him the perfect addition to Joker: Folie à Deux.
The brilliant but insane psychiatrist and geneticist Hugo Strange not only wanted to destroy Batman, Hugo wanted to become the Caped Crusader himself. Hugo’s tenure as a psychiatry professor at Gotham State University was cut short when his controversial genetic experiments were exposed, after which Hugo continued his expeiments on Arkham patients. Hugo being the villain in Joker: Folie à Deux would line up with the theory about how Arthur Fleck never left Arkham, and that he actually just imagined the fantastical events in the first movie. Indeed, Hugo Strange experimented on patients with the goal of curing imperfection, and Arthur might just be the perfect candidate for Hugo’s research. In fact, Hugo’s backstory of performing unethical medical trials would be ideal for expounding some of the social commentary in Joker.
DC’s original Black Mask is named Roman Sionis, whose parents were rich Gotham socialites who were friends with the Waynes. After Roman made a decision that bankrupted his family business, the Waynes bailed them out but forced Roman to resign. After getting disgraced and left with nothing, Roman put on the mantle of Black Mask and assumed a life of crime. During a plot to exact his revenge on the Waynes, Roman’s face fell into a fire and made his grotesque mask permanent, after which the authorities took him to Arkham Asylum. Roman’s connection to Joker‘s Thomas Wayne — and how Batman’s origin is triggered at the end of the first film — already lay the groundwork for Joker: Folie à Deux to adapt parts of Black Mask’s story. In the comics, Black Mask and Joker end up leading the patients and inmates in taking over Arkham Asylum.
Joker: Folie à Deux’s Arkham State Hospital needs the DC villain Clayface for a number of reasons. Clayface is the legacy name used by several Batman villains across the comics, distinguished by his malleable clay body and being a patient inside Arkham Asylum. Thematically, Clayface’s hideous visage and hazy backstory fit within Joker‘s classical take on loneliness and social isolation — potentially serving as the Frankenstein’s monster to Arthur Fleck’s Dr. Frankenstein in the sequel. It’s also high time for Clayface to appear in a live-action movie, as the character has only appeared in the comics and animated Batman stories. Joker: Folie à Deux adapting Clayface would also be a massive surprise to viewers expecting more grounded DC villains to appear in the sequel. While Clayface is one of Batman’s more fantastical villains, he is a staple Arkham Asylum inmate like Joker, and there are many ways to interpret his story for Todd Phillips’ deep dive into Arkham State Hospital.