Warning: this story contains spoilers for The Batman
The Joker is back. In one of The BatmanIn the final scenes, a thwarted and imprisoned Riddler (Paul Dano) confers with an unseen character in prison played by Barry Keoghan. Although brief, the scene leaves no doubt that Keoghan is playing Batman’s greatest enemy, the Joker.
This is the third Joker that Warner Bros. has introduced in recent years. In 2016 suicide squad, Jared Leto played an erratic Joker with “damaged” literally tattooed on his forehead. Then Joaquin Phoenix won an Oscar for playing the Joker in an extremely serious version of the villain in 2019. Joker. So currently there are three different Jokers roaming three different Gothams, which is scary and more than a little confusing.
Here’s everything you need to know about The Joker’s future in the DC Entertainment (DCEU) Universe.
How we meet an invisible Joker in The Batman
At the end of the film, Batman has captured the Riddler, although that was the Riddler’s plan all along. The Riddler feels like he and Batman share the same goal: to team up and rid Gotham of corruption. But Batman sticks to his credo: he doesn’t kill people.
He comes to understand that The Riddler has taken to social media to assemble a violent, fringe army of powerless men who have armed themselves to attack a mayoral candidate who preaches hope, along with his supporters. It is no coincidence that these radicalized men are targeting a prominent black woman.
The film’s parallels to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack are uncanny — in the film, as in real life, a mob planned an attack on social media and armed themselves, and specifically targeted certain lawmakers, including most were women and women of color. Director Matt Reeves told TIME any parallels were accidental — the script was written in 2017.
Batman and Catwoman manage to thwart the attack, much to the Riddler’s dismay. He begins to lament his failure in his prison cell, attracting the attention of another prisoner, the Joker. The two talk about their similarities – they both love a good joke. And plot revenge.
The setup suggests that the Joker isn’t planning on taking on Batman alone. He can recruit the Riddler, the Penguin (played by an unrecognizable Colin Farrell in this film), and an entire gallery of rogue heroes to battle the Caped Crusader.
Barry Keoghan has proven himself to be a compelling comic book character
Barry Keoghan is best known for playing another comic book character, Druig in The Eternals. Although this film was jam-packed with A-list talent (including Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Harry Styles), it failed to dazzle critics or make box office history. While The Eternals may or may not get a sequel, and Druig may or may not return to the big screen, Keoghan has proven himself a compelling comic book antihero and will likely make a compelling villain.
The Irish actor has some big clown shoes to fill – Phoenix and Heath Ledger have both won Oscars for playing the Joker. And legends like Jack Nicholson have already put their stamp on the crazy character.
How? ‘Or’ What The Batman and the Joker fit into the DC Entertainment universe
The DCEU has gotten complicated in recent years. In order to sort through its many parallel universes, it’s helpful to compare Warner Bros. producing superhero films with Disney’s Marvel Studios.
Marvel carefully laid the groundwork for movies running on parallel timelines in a multiverse introduced in Loki and developed in Spider-Man: No Coming Home. When three different Spider-Men swung into action in Spider-Man: No Coming Homewe understood that each Peter Parker came from a different parallel world.
Warner Bros., on the other hand, has produced superhero movies that seem to exist in several different universes without any explanation in the movie. Robert Pattinson’s Batman does not live on the same earth as Ben Affleck’s Batman. Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker also doesn’t seem to operate in the same universe as either of these Caped Crusaders. Logic would dictate that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, who starred together in Zack Snyder Justice League, may appear in each other’s films but never interact with the Pattinson version of Bruce Wayne. And, by extension, Keoghan’s Joker is a totally different person than Phoenix’s Joker.
Things get even more confusing when you consider remakes and reboots. The first one suicide squad The film involved a Batman cameo from Affleck and featured Jared Leto’s Joker. But the reboot-slash sequel that came out last year, The Suicide Squad (note the article), chose and chose what tradition to continue from the previous film and what to abandon. It could therefore still exist in the land of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Or not.
Warner Bros. executives explained in interviews that these characters exist on planets of separate and parallel universes, Earth 1, Earth 2, Earth 3, etc. shine film would bring together at least some of these universes. Affleck’s Batman and Michael Keaton’s Batman from the 1980s are set to appear in this film.