After nearly two full years of disappointing delays, Matt Reeves' The Batman is finally in theaters for the world to see. Robert Pattinson's new take on the Caped Crusader found himself deep in the criminal underworld of Gotham City, even with it being quite early in his career as a vigilante. In one movie alone, he encountered nearly a handful of villains in Carmine Falcone, the Penguin, and the Riddler.
WARNING: The rest of this article contains spoilers for The Batman.
These villains brought more than their fair share of chaos to Gotham City, even going so far as to put the city underwater by the end of the film. However, even with big names from Batman's rogues gallery brought to life in this solo outing, arguably the hero's most famous adversary was mostly absent - the Joker.
The Batman didn't credit anybody to be officially playing the Joker, but in a closing scene, the character appeared in another cell in Arkham Asylum next to Paul Dano's Riddler. Additionally, the rumors about casting for the Joker came true as Eternals star Barry Keoghan portrayed the role in what was only a tease for more to come.
With Keoghan now confirmed to be Pattinson's Clown Prince of Crime, fans are undoubtedly curious when his villain will fully come to life within this DC universe. Following The Batman's theatrical debut, the film's director shared some insight into how this version came to be for his story and how it sets up his future.
Batman Director on Joker's Future
The Batman director Matt Reeves spoke with IGN about Barry Keoghan's future as the next Joker in future movies.
Speaking on Keoghan's one scene at the end of the film, Reeves described this version of the Joker as "a pre-Joker Joker," which nearly didn't make it into the film at all. In the end, he kept it in the movie to make sure that Paul Dano's arc as the Riddler was complete as the two villains met for the first time:
“What you’re really seeing is a pre-Joker Joker. And the idea for me, why I kept that scene in the movie, even though I cut the first scene that I’m describing, is because it was important for me at the end. I actually took the scene that’s in the movie still out for a brief time. And we tested it, and I realized that for me, on the one hand, it finishes the Riddler’s arc, because you know the way his story plays out and you see him in the wake of what’s happened and how Batman has been able to thwart what he was doing."
The scene also helps tease that even more danger is coming to Gotham thanks to Carmine Falcone's death, which sets up a power grab for anyone who wants to join the fray:
“But it was also this idea that in this moment, now that the stranglehold of Falcone has been broken, it means that there is a moment of not only hope, but it’s also the moment of greatest danger in the city in a long time because it means that everyone is going to grab for power."
This scene also helped add more meaning to Bruce's conversation with Selina Kyle, where Bruce was determined to try to help Gotham, no matter if it worked or not. Even though Selina was right in a way about Gotham never changing, as indicated by the scene with the Riddler and the Joker, Bruce's determination still comes through.
"And when Selina [Kyle] is talking to Batman at the end of the movie and they’re having their very poignant goodbye because they’re always going to be on the opposite sides of things, she says to him, ‘You know this place isn’t going to change.’ And when I took the scene out, the stakes of the scene changed, because that scene shows you that, when she says that, you’ve just seen it and you see the two of them [Joker and Riddler] next to each other. And that’s just one example of how trouble in Gotham is never going to subside. There’s always going to be somebody with a plan afoot.“
Reeves wanted to make it clear that this scene wasn't included just to hold an Easter egg, even teasing that there's no guarantee that "the Joker would be in the next movie." However, he made sure that fans saw an early version of the Joker to tease that there's always "trouble...brewing in Gotham:"
And so it changed the movie dramatically. So the scene is not meant to be there to say, ‘Oh, here’s an Easter egg. The next movie is X.’ I don’t know that the Joker would be in the next movie, but I can tell you that here’s what you’re seeing, is an early days version of this character, and trouble, as always, is brewing in Gotham.”
Joker Brewing Trouble for The Batman 2?
Even for Batman's laundry list of A-list bad guys, none come to mind more than the Joker, as evidenced by three prior versions of the villain in the 21st century alone.
Although Heath Ledger, Jared Leto, and Joaquin Phoenix got their time in the spotlight as key players in their movies, Reeves used Keoghan's Joker simply to show how dark things are about to get in Gotham. Keoghan's face didn't even fully come to light, as fans only saw a hint of the classic scarring that helps make him such a terrifying adversary.
As much as this tease could easily set up the Joker to play an actual role in The Batman 2, there's more than enough story to tackle even without Batman's most famous adversary.
Pattinson's Batman will have to channel more of Bruce Wayne to help a Gotham City that's fully underwater, which is on top of the aforementioned power grab in play with Falcone's death. Although the Penguin and more will be first in line in the struggle, the Joker waiting in the wings can only mean trouble for the capital of crime in the DC world.
The Batman is now playing in theaters worldwide.