Wait, is the Joker in The Batman?

As one of the most familiar comic book heroes to consistently make their way onto the big screen — as well as video games and animated seriesBatman and his world are pretty well known to the wider public. This means that when a new version of him appears, it’s quite natural to see how that new interpretation ripples out to the rest of Gotham City. Which, inevitably, leads to Joker.

Matt Reeves’ The Batman spins a Nirvana-fueled mystery version of the Caped Crusader that’s genuinely mesmerizing, and his take on the Riddler is wildly idiosyncratic, a makeover done by the Queer Eye Fab Five if they were more about serial killers instead of self-affirmation. It would lead anyone to wonder: If this is the Riddler, what would Reeves’ Joker look like?

[Ed. Note: The rest of this post contains spoilers for The Batman.]

Onlookers in The Batman watch television news, which is displaying a closeup of the Riddler’s mask and his thick eyeglasses. A chyron reads “Serial killer livestreams.” Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Batman’s denouement is a collection of scenes devoted to final grace notes for its characters. One of those scenes catches up with Riddler (Paul Dano), now locked up in Arkham Asylum — where he strikes up a conversation with someone in a nearby cell.

The film never gives viewers a clear glimpse of the speaker, but through a small window in the neighboring cell door it’s possible to make out a pale face and a very familiar grin. That, in addition to some colorful language involving clown metaphors, leaves very little room for ambiguity: This dude is almost certainly Joker.

Reinforcing this further is that he is played by Barry Keoghan (The Eternals, The Killing of a Sacred Deer), who receives star billing in the credits. This would make most viewers familiar with Keoghan’s face blink a few times, because he’s nowhere to be seen and it’s impossible to recognize anyone in the scene where he’s speaking to Dano’s Riddler.

As for what his appearance might mean, that’s a little harder to nail down. There are currently no announced sequel plans for The Batman, although one is almost certainly being considered. Warner Bros. has already announced a spinoff HBO Max series featuring Colin Farrell’s take on the Penguin, as well as one focused on the Gotham Police Department. Both could potentially feature Joker in some way — an idea supported by director Matt Reeves in an interview with Toronto Sun, where he alluded to the Penguin series and also another that “connects to Arkham.”

This would make for the fourth cinematic take on Joker, a number that’s kind of absurd given Batman’s deep bench of excellent villains. Of course, Keoghan’s actual role is “Unnamed Arkham Prisoner,” so we could also be wrong. Maybe he’s the Creeper!