Now that the wheels are really spinning with 2021's The Batman directed by Matt Reeves (we've been given a first look at Robert Pattinson in the titular role's costume, guerrilla style photography from set and a confirmed cast of noteworthy characters you can count on two hands), anticipation looms at whether or not the new solo outing will live up to the hype.
Director Matt Reeves has been asked about his approach to the Caped Crusader and what style he intends to bring to the big screen and it's safe to say that the film is in good hands. Taking inspiration from Chinatown in regards to noir, Matt Reeves intends to lean in more to the "World's Greatest Detective" aspect of Batman; a tone we haven't really seen in recent films if not at all.
With four confirmed villains set to make an appearance, as well as rumors of even more being eyed up by the director (someone mentioned Firefly at one point), there is one elephant in the room. We're talking of course, about The Joker.
What we know so far is that The Batman will follow a much younger and greener Bruce Wayne, solving a mystery across Gotham City using his brains almost as much as his brawn. With The Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman and Carmine Falcone set to make appearances in just one film, it's plausible to assume that these encounters will be less about multiple villains teaming up together and more likely The Batman will be going lair-to-lair and battling them individually.
If you have ever played the Arkham video games you'll have some insight into how this could play out; with antagonists off on their own adventures but linked to the story together in one tangential way or another.
In Arkham Origins, a major turning point in the game is Batman's investigation into an unsolved murder committed by a new criminal in Gotham City. Low and behold, this new criminal turns out to be The Joker, making as dramatic an entrance as any and establishing himself as a new breed of foe for The Batman to tango with.
While this might seem like a reach, it would actually make sense from the information we've been provided so far. Keeping The Joker under wraps and revealing him to be the secret main villain in the film would not only serve as a pretty great twist, but open doors to possible story lines for the future films in the Matt Reeves Trilogy. Obviously he wouldn't occupy more screen time over say Colin Farrell's Penguin or Paul Dano's Riddler, but just one minute would be enough to tease us for the next two films.
If next year, just before the credits roll, R-Pats' Bruce Wayne solves the mystery whilst confirming to Alfred/Jim Gordon that there is a new criminal in Gotham for him to deal with, and we get a glimpse of a cackling madman with white greasepaint on his face, it won't be too unconvincing to believe.
Admittedly it's not a jaw-dropping twist to predict, and it has probably been banded round many times even before Robert Pattinson was cast as Bruce Wayne. But what's fascinating about it is that it makes logical sense for a film that will center itself around a mystery. Red Herrings aside in the face of Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman, Matt Reeves is great at foreshadowing and holding back until the right moment so tasking him with introducing The Joker as a future villain won't be a challenge he can't meet.
Again, this is just a theory. A Batman film (and trilogy) that doesn't include the Joker would be a fun welcome and probably for the best. It could give us opportunity to see villains who haven't had a good track record with film such as Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy and even Killer Croc. But should Robert Pattinson's debut close out with this reveal, we can't say we won't be excited.
Even if it would be the third Joker we've seen in the last five years.