Given that Matt Reeves has been openly discussing Barry Keoghan’s previously top-secret role in The Batman, it’s fair to say that the filmmaker wants the world to know he cast the Eternals star as the Joker of his rapidly-expanding universe.
However, that doesn’t mean the latest iteration of the Clown Prince of Crime is destined to face off against Robert Pattinson in the inevitable big screen sequel. Keoghan’s brief scene opposite Paul Dano’s Riddler took place within the confines of Arkham Asylum, with an HBO Max spinoff revolving around the notorious institution in development.
While every individual Batman franchise appears obligated to introduce the Dark Knight’s arch-nemesis eventually, Reeves once again underlined that the Joker isn’t guaranteed to show up in Pattinson’s next feature-length outing under the cape and cowl in an interview with DC Standom.
“[The cameo] at the end of the movie is really more contextual [for the universe], so I can’t say whether we would do him, specifically, in the movies or not.”
To further underline his point, Reeves then went on to explain that Keoghan isn’t quite the Joker we all know and love at this stage, but the door is definitely open for future film and television projects to establish him as the purple-clad maniac that’s been an enduring icon of the comic book and cinematic world for decades.
“What you’re seeing is a pre-Joker Joker, actually. We go back to the Conrad Veidt, The Man Who Laughs inspiration, which is a Bob Kane-Bill Finger reference. Obviously, that guy has a congenital disease. He’s sort of like Phantom of the Opera, he can’t not smile. Instead of being like the story of the Elephant Man, where his grotesque outward appearance sort of belied the beautiful inside, this would form his nihilistic worldview and he would have an insidious understanding of human nature. That’s kind of where this psychology comes from in who this guy would be.”
Naturally, the next chapter in The Batman saga is where we’re all expecting the Joker to make his presence felt, but Reeves might just actively seek to subvert our expectations by having Keoghan’s make an impact somewhere else.