(SPOILERS for The Batman will be found below.)
The Batman saved the end credits scene for before the credits. What a concept. In the final minutes of the three-hour-long film, Edward Nashton, a.k.a. Riddler, has been locked up in Arkham Asylum for, among other misdeeds, placing bombs around Gotham’s seawalls, flooding large sections of the city. But his ultimate plan, to cleanse Gotham of its sins, backfires when Batman thwarts his plan to assassinate newly-elected mayor Bella Reál and assists in the recovery efforts. Gotham is still a crime-riddled mess, but citizens now have a costumed hero to rally around — and it ain’t the Riddler.
A devastated Edward Nashton is licking his wounds from inside his Arkam cell when he hears a voice and, later, a familiar laugh. We never see the fellow inmate’s full pale face, but it’s clear: Gotham has a new Joker (director Matt Reeves confirmed it).
It’s not Jared Leto, or Joaquin Phoenix, or a CGI Cesar Romero (if only), it’s actor Barry Keoghan who is listed as Unseen Arkham Prisoner on IMDb. That’s because:
a) the “Earth-2” Joker and Riddler have big plans together (“Don’t be sad. You did well. Gotham loves a comeback story”) for the all-but-confirmed sequel. Robert Pattinson has expressed interest in adapting the “A Death in the Family” storyline, in which the Joker brutally murders Robin, but only under one condition: “[Robin] has to be 13.”
b) Barry Keoghan rules.
You might know him from being creepy in The Killing of a Sacred Deer, or being creepy in The Green Knight, or being creepy in Eternals, or not being creepy (!) in Dunkirk, where he worked with previous-Batman director Christopher Nolan. I never thought I would welcome another Joker to the DC universe, but here we are: it’s good casting.
For more on The Batman, check out our interview with director Matt Reeves.