There's a Second Villain in "The Batman" After All

Robert Pattinson's debut as Bruce Wayne in 2022's "The Batman" has the Caped Crusader facing off against The Riddler, played by Paul Dano. The Riddler, aka Edward Nashton, ends the movie locked up in Arkham State Hospital, where he has a very interesting conversation with another unseen inmate. It's clear that director Matt Reeves intended to foreshadow the arrival of another iconic Batman villain in a possible sequel: the Joker.

Played by "Eternals" actor Barry Keoghan, the character is credited as "Unnamed Arkham Prisoner" in the final credits and never reveals his name — but he does give some major hints as to his identity during his conversation with the Riddler. At one point, he says, "One day you're on top, the next day you're a clown," ending the speech with a long, chilling laugh that's instantly recognizable to any Batman fan. The Riddler and Joker form a bond that will spell major trouble for Gotham if they ever return to its streets.

In an interview with IGN, Reeves confirmed the character's identity, saying that the Joker was originally in a second earlier scene that was ultimately cut. The director said that this version of the Joker is more of a Joker-in-training, unlike the fully formed versions portrayed in previous movies by Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Jared Leto, and Joaquin Phoenix. "Everybody's in their infancy," Reeves said of the characters. "So in the comics, these characters often declare their alter egos in response to the fact that there's a Batman out there. And so here, we have a Joker who's not yet the Joker."

Reeves added that the character's appearance in "The Batman" has less to do with setting up a sequel (although that's definitely a possibility) than with painting a broad picture of Gotham in crisis. "The scene is not meant to be there to say, 'Oh, here's an Easter egg. The next movie is X,'" Reeves said. "I don't know that the Joker would be in the next movie, but I can tell you that here's what you're seeing, is an early days version of this character — and trouble, as always, is brewing in Gotham."