Matt Reeves’ The Batman is primed to breathe new life into the mythos of the caped crusader, bypassing the retelling of Batman’s origin story to focus on the early days of his role as Gotham City’s protector. We know the movie's cast already includes a myriad of the Dark Knight’s classic foes, including Paul Dano as The Riddler and Colin Farrell as Penguin. Now, a fresh new leak reveals the Joker may be joining the villain line-up, and his involvement could be setting up a classic comic book adaptation in The Batman 2.
A leak from The Direct (citing the sometimes reliable scooper Daniel Richtman) purports that the Joker — inarguably Batman’s greatest foe — will be teased at the end of The Batman and introduced in the second film in Matt Reeves’ trilogy. He will supposedly then appear in the third film alongside other villains. However, the leak suggests that the Clown Prince of Crime won’t appear in the first film at all and that only his name will be mentioned (wonder where he got that idea...?). Presumably, this would be an all-new Joker, so don’t expect Joaquin Phoenix’s iteration of the character to pop up in The Batman.
Fans have already drawn comparisons between The Batman and the 1980s comic book storyline, Batman: Year One, as well as to the graphic novel Batman: The Long Halloween, which included the Joker and the villains appearing in The Batman. Year One effectively retold the caped crusader’s origin, with notable and influential changes, and showcased Batman’s first meeting with the Joker.
The Batman taking a break from the Joker is probably a good thing, especially considering how prevalent the character has been throughout the Batman movies and animated series. That said, the Joker’s potential introduction in the upcoming trilogy could mean a number of things...
It’s possible that mentioning the character as early as the first film means Reeves is planning to adapt Batman: The Killing Joke. The revered graphic novel, written by Alan Moore with art by Brian Bolland, sees Joker attempt to push Commissioner Jim Gordon to his limits. While Batman tries to stop him, Joker does succeed in shooting Barbara Gordon, paralyzing her and ending her career as Batgirl. While The Killing Joke is considered to be one version of Joker’s origin story, many believe it to be the definitive take and so it would make sense to adapt it to live-action.
Earlier this year, rumors swirled that Kaitlyn Dever would be playing Batgirl in The Batman after she interacted with Reeves and co-writer Mattson Tomlin online. When Variety asked, she didn’t deny the rumors, but she did say that she would “be so down” for the role. However, considering Jeffrey Wright is playing Commissioner Gordon, a Black Batgirl would be more suitable and accurate.
Of course, there’s no confirmation that Batgirl will be in Reeves’ film. But, keeping in line with the news about the Joker, it’s possible that a potential Batgirl introduction in The Batman will then segue into an adaptation of The Killing Joke in the second film. The Killing Joke was adapted in the 2016 animated film, but it was not at all well-received and many criticized the uncomfortable and unnecessary changes to Batman and Batgirl’s relationship. Should Reeves introduce the Joker to his trilogy, he could arguably fix what the animated adaptation got wrong.
What’s more, DC Comics’ Geoff Johns, who most recently created the live-action Stargirl series, is currently working on a mysterious new miniseries called The Three Jokers. With Jared Leto's Suicide Squad villain, Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck and now a third in The Batman, we might just get a live-action version of Johns's upcoming comic.
Per EW, the story will be mystery-based. Here’s what Johns said about the basics of the story:
“It goes back to the beginning when Batman first encountered the Joker, but it’s also The Killing Joke and A Death in the Family that speak to the book and that we’re building off emotionally.”
That said, Johns’ miniseries will be released until June 23, which seemingly leaves plenty of time for Reeves to eventually adapt it to film. For now, it seems The Batman will focus on a number of other Dark Knight villains before bringing in the most famous one of all.
The Batman is scheduled to hit theaters on October 1, 2021.