First and foremost, everyone needs to apologize to Robert Pattinson. Without pitting Batman movies against each other (because more than one movie can be good), doubts about Pattinson’s ability to portray the Dark Knight seem like a silly fever dream. The Batman has not only proven that source material is important (hear that, Zack Snyder and Bryan Singer?), but that Batman is so much more than his combat abilities.
There were rumors going around prior to the film’s release that Eternals actor Barry Keoghan was cast as the Joker following his brother’s quickly deleted Meta post about the film’s surprise casting choice. While those rumors were initially squashed and we were told Keoghan would instead be Stanley Merkel of the Gotham City Police Department, director Matt Reeves has recently confirmed that the unnamed resident of Arkham Asylum is a “proto-Joker.” Reeves didn’t confirm whether or not Keoghan’s Joker would appear in the sequel, but based on the ending of the film, there are a handful of possibilities for villains, let’s take a look.
— WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE BATMAN AHEAD —
Let’s state the obvious here. While I’m not a huge fan of the Joker being brought back over and over again, I’d like to think that Keoghan’s casting is method to the madness. To tease the Joker, one of Batman’s most famous foes, and not include him in some capacity seems like a waste for the audience and a waste of Keoghan’s time.
Spin-off series have been confirmed—one covering the underground crime world and the Penguin’s rise to power and the other supposedly being a series that uncovers the corruption within the GCPD. It’s been said that the GCPD series has been put on hold, and there’s a good chance it could become the Arkham Asylum spin-off series. I would love to see different villains highlighted in the future Batman films, but if we had to include the Joker, I wouldn’t mind him being some sort of Hannibal-esque character in the Arkham Asylum series.
Court of Owls
The Court of Owls is an organized crime group and secret society of oligarchs that have been pulling Gotham City’s strings starting as early as the 1600s. They use their money and murder (at the hands of their enforcers known as Talons) to wield influence in Gotham. Since the orchestrated flood, Gotham is in complete disarray and essentially up for grabs by any crime group or villain, posing a large threat against this centuries old powerholder. They could see Batman’s need to clean up Gotham as a power play, and go after him while he tries to keep as much of Gotham under control as possible.
The city of Gotham is almost entirely underwater. There’s a perfect opportunity to see the city freeze over and create the optimal landscape for Mr. Freeze. We haven’t seen Mr. Freeze in a live-action film since the campy version played by former California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in 1997’s Batman & Robin. Matt Reeves spoke to Collider about what he wants to see in the Batman sequel and how finding the grounded versions of things is what’s most important to him.
“In my view, I just feel drawn to finding the grounded version of everything. So to me it would be a challenge in an interesting way to try and figure out how that could happen, even the idea of something like Mr. Freeze, that such a great story, right? I think there’s actually a grounded version of that story, which could be really powerful and could be really great. So, I love the fantastical side of Batman, but this iteration, obviously, while being, to me, I think it is very comics faithful, but I don’t think that this one is necessarily, it doesn’t lean as hard into the fantastical, I guess. But I think to me what would be interesting would be to try and unwind the fantastical and see, well, how could that make sense here? And so that’s kind of my view, how I see it.”
There were a couple of hints in The Batman that led many fans to believe that they were breadcrumbs leading to Thomas Elliot/Hush. We have yet to see a live-action version of Hush, and to see Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend-turned-enemy in the next sequel could make things very interesting.
There is a moment in the film where we learn that Thomas Wayne indirectly had a reporter with the last named “Elliot,” murdered by Carmine Falcone. This would also fit in almost perfectly because Hush has been known to work with the Riddler in the comics and their partnership opens doors to the introduction of more of Batman’s future foes in Reeves’ Batman universe.
Before the month is out, hit up some other key March movie releases.
Photos via DC/Warner Bros.