Image: Warner Bros.

As the controversial, fan-polarizing Joker rapidly approaches the $1 billion mark at the box office, it’s already made movie history: not only is it the most successful R-rated movie ever released, it’s also the most profitable comic-book-based movie of all time. Naturally, DC and Warner Bros. are going to push hard for a sequel, and according to a recent interview in the Los Angeles Times, co-writer/director Todd Phillips would be open to tackle it… but he set some pretty firm conditions for that to happen.

“It couldn’t just be this wild and crazy movie about the ‘Clown Prince of Crime,'” Phillips told the Times, stating that he doesn’t have a story in mind just yet.

“It would have to have some thematic resonance in a similar way that [Joker] does,” he explained. “Because I think that’s ultimately why the movie connected, it’s what’s going on underneath. So many movies are about the spark, and this is about the powder. If you could capture that again in a real way, that would be interesting.”

In the same article, Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix address the controversy still surrounding the film, pointing out that it has generated more positive reactions than many expected. Early predictions that the film would provoke real-life vigilante violence thankfully never came true.

“It’s amazing that a movie that was supposed to inspire, as they put it, mass mayhem really has just inspired a bunch of people dancing down staircases,” the director says. “I think that speaks more to our times than anything.”

Joker‘s many ambiguities have likely generated more fan theories than just about any other recent comic-based film… and Phoenix admits to being fascinated by them.

“It’s been super interesting how people react to the movie and what they see — and to me, all of those answers are valid,” Phoenix told the Times. “Normally you have to answer those questions. But this really is participatory and interactive. It’s up to the audience. That’s so rare, especially with a big studio movie, and I don’t want to ruin that by saying, ‘No, this is what it is.’ To me, there are so many different ways to view this character and his experience that I don’t think you can come up with a particular meaning.”

Some of the questions Joker left in audiences’ minds might now have answers (especially regarding the film’s final scene), since the original screenplay by Phillips and Scott Silver is now available online. You can read it now right here.