Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Batman.
After a decade since the last solo Batman film, the day has finally arrived for fans to witness a new take on the character and the world he inhabits. This time around, director Matt Reeves is at the helm, with Robert Pattinson embodying the Dark Knight himself. Along for the ride are Zoe Kravtiz’s Catwoman, Colin Ferrell’s Penguin, and most importantly, Paul Dano’s The Riddler. With a goal of unearthing the corruption in Gotham City, Dano’s sadistic villain gives the Caped Crusader quite the challenge.
Of course, with any adaptation of the famous hero, there’s something—or rather, someone—else that’s bound to come into play at some point: The Joker. The infamous villain is one of the biggest in all of the genre and is integral to Batman’s role as Gotham’s protector.
While some may have been sad not seeing the Clown Prince of Crime right out of the gate, a scene towards the end of the movie likely made some jump out of their seats.
It’s Good to Have a Friend
It’s probably not much of a surprise that Paul Dano’s Riddler was incarcerated by the end of the film. Even his post-mortem plan ended up falling through, with a mortified Edward watching his downfall behind bars.
Part of his mindset throughout the whole movie was how the psychopath thought he was working alongside Robert Pattinson’s Batman. After all, as he points out, without the Bat, all of that corruption wouldn’t have been exposed. Finally, however, the Caped Crusader set the serial killer straight, making it clear they weren’t friends.
On top of his failing plans, losing a close friend puts the Riddler in deep distress. At least until another friend came into the picture to fill that empty hole.
A mysterious voice echoed throughout the prison from the cell next door, one that even coins Riddler’s iconic “riddle me this” catchphrase. While no identity is confirmed on-screen, given the shadowy figure’s speech and what viewers could make of him, this prisoner is without a doubt meant to be none other than The Joker—played by Barry Keoghan, no less.
What’s Next for the Joker?
One big story the end of The Batman sets up is No Man’s Land, a comic event that ran through nearly all of 1999. The event saw Gotham City declared as no longer part of the United States after a massive earthquake destroyed most of the city, and the criminal infection takes hold. Many of Batman’s biggest villains end up acquiring sections of territory, including Joker, who coins land of his own as “Jokerville.”
Now it’s safe to assume that if this is the direction Matt Reeves wants to go with next, it won’t be a 1:1 adaptation. However, given the massive flooding, and all the damage it did to the city, a similar situation could be on the horizon. Batman even mentions how there are sections of the city they still couldn’t get to.
Maybe the Joker will make a play for some of that land, bringing Riddler along. There’s bound to be plenty of chaos for Mr. J to take advantage of, alongside many others, likely including The Penguin.
If Reeves continues to show villains behind the bars of Arkham (something a time jump could help with), maybe they could go the route of Joker staging a massive breakout at some point during one of Batman’s visits to the penitentiary; Riddler could even serve as the perfect lure. Imagine something similar to the Arkham game series by Rocksteady.
It would be the perfect nightmare for the Dark Knight. While Joker would be the key antagonist pulling all the strings, the situation would allow for Reeves to explore a handful of villains all at once. This sure sounds like the perfect kind of chaos that Keoghan could expertly bring to the screen.
But what happened before the scene in The Batman?
Could HBO Max Become A Joke?
With Joker in prison, one would have to think that he’s already come across Batman and lost. It would be a little strange if this full-blown Joker (an assumption based on his silhouetted look) were in jail before crossing paths with his arch-nemesis.
However, it wouldn’t be unheard of or out there to take that approach. If this were the case, one of the best ways to explore the villain’s past would be to make him the main antagonist of the upcoming HBO Max Gotham PD show.
This would allow for Barry Keoghan to explore and flesh out his infamous clown in a way the movies would not have the time to do. How he got behind those bars would be explained, as would his creation—police would have a formidable threat to go up against.
With all of that said, it would still be strange for Pattinson’s Batman not to show up. After all, the vigilante has been active for two years prior to the start of the newly released film. If the Joker is big enough to be a key threat for the entire Gotham police department, the Caped Crusader’s absence would raise questions.
Of course, Warner Bros. could surprise fans around the world and actually put a bonafide Batman into a television series.
Keoghan’s Big Break
Taking on the role of the Joker is not an easy ask. Barry Keoghan would not have taken the idea lightly; there are some massive shoes to fill.
The actor has undoubtedly put a lot of time and effort into making sure his time under the white make-up will be memorable. What’s even more impressive is how he managed to keep it a secret for so long, though he should probably talk to his brother about NDAs.
With the actor's role as Druig in last year’s Eternals, and now this, Keoghan certainly has his future set. Additionally, both his Marvel and DC characters are posed to be active and important to future stories.
Fans are going to be seeing plenty more from Keoghan in the coming years, and the world is better for it.
The Batman is playing in theaters worldwide.