The Batman has finally hit theaters after years in the hopper and audiences cannot get enough. The much-anticipated return to cinemas for the Dark Knight marks a new beginning for the character, ushering audiences into this new version of Gotham City. While the Matt Reeves-directed take on the Caped Crusader has captured fans' attention, it is his surroundings that have garnered much praise.
Whether it was the city of Gotham itself, or the various side characters playing alongside Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne, this new take on this universe is being heralded as authentically Batman.
One of these such players on the massive Gotham City chess board has been the long-rumored mystery character being played by Barry Keoghan. The Eternals star has been attached to a possible appearance in the film as the Joker, but nothing was confirmed in the pre-release ramp up.
However, with The Batman now out in the wild, Matt Reeves and the movie's cast have come forward with their thoughts on Keoghan's rumored role.
Matt Reeves Looking Forward
WARNING: The rest of this article contains spoilers for The Batman.
In an interview with Variety, The Batman director Matt Reeves revealed if Barry Keoghan has a future in this Batman universe.
When prompted about whether Keoghan will be a part of the franchise going forward, the director said "it’s very possible" but "also isn’t impossible." “There might be places,” he went on to say, including perhaps an appearance on "HBO Max." An Arkham spin-off has been confirmed to be in production, and he specifically mentioned Joker's possible involvement in it:
“There’s stuff I’m very interested in doing in an Arkham space, potentially for HBO Max. There are things we’ve talked about there. So it’s very possible. It also isn’t impossible, that there is some story that comes back where Joker comes into our world.”
Reeves brought up the balancing act of playing the Joker, admitting that it's been "done well, a number of times:”
“It’s something to think about with the Joker. It’s been done well, a number of times.”
Because of this, he says he really tried to "make this different from the other Batman movies:"
“We made a really concerted effort to make this different from the other ‘Batman’ movies, because we needed to.”
With this saturation of great Joker performances, and Joaquin Pheonix winning the Oscar for the same role as they "were making the movie", Reeves made it clear to Keoghan that he couldn't "promise that [the character will] even ever come back." In the end, he could be nothing more than a simple cameo here:
“I said to Barry, right from the beginning, ‘Look, I don’t know where this is going to go. I can’t promise that it’ll even ever come back. I don’t know.’ And I still feel that way now. I’m not sure exactly.”
When casting for this Joker cameo, the filmmaker was looking for someone who could do the role justice, even if it was just for a few seconds. He wanted not only someone who was a "good actor" but one that was "fearless:"
“I was looking not only for somebody who was a good actor, but somebody who was fearless.”
And after seeing Keoghan, he saw that the actor was "full-in" so they "did it:"
“Barry was full in. That, along with the fact that I loved him as an actor, was the deciding factor. And we did it.”
A Joker Conundrum
Despite Barry Keoghan's involvement in The Batman being heavily speculated upon pre-release, it was exciting for fans to see him actually show up in the film. And to do so as one of the most iconic comic characters of all time is even more exhilarating.
Reeves does have a point in saying that there has been an abundance of Jokers over the past couple of years. So if this were to be it for Keoghan as the character in this franchise it would make a lot of sense.
However, it feels rather unlikely that this to be it for the Eternals actor as the Clown Prince of Crime. One does not simply introduce a character of that magnitude only to throw them away. If he were to continue as the villain, this feels like the right way to do Joker again.
Like Dano before The Batman, Keoghan is still a fairly unknown name to the wider public. This significantly lowers the expectations that will be put upon the portrayal if he were to show up in The Batman 2 or an HBO Max spin-off.
An interesting angle that fans have discussed has this version of the Joker working alongside Robert Pattinson's Dark Knight in The Batman sequel. When another crazed villain hits the scene in the next Matt Reeves Batman film maybe Keoghan's Joker could be a resource for the Caped Crusader to help understand the internal happenings of this new threat.
Then, when more time has passed, Joker could play the main antagonist in a potential The Batman 3. It may feel like a long shot now, but this, paired with an inclusion in the Arkham HBO Max show, could help to acclimatize the audience to this version of the Batman big bad.
The Batman is now playing in theaters worldwide.