Who Is The Riddler Talking To?
6 mins read

Who Is The Riddler Talking To?

“The Batman” is now out in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, and it is surely prompting strenuous debate.

Is the tone too serious or should they have gone back to the Bat-nipples or pop art title cards that say “POW!”? Where does Robert Pattinson’s characterization of the Dark Knight fall amongst the various iterations of the character? And can you believe that that is Colin Farrell under all that make-up?

There is also a question that we cannot go into without spoiling the “The Batman” ending, but that could illuminate where the character is headed (and who he’ll be facing off against).

Huge spoilers for “The Batman” follow; if you haven’t watched yet, turn back now!

The Batman _ Catwoman & Batman

Who Is The Riddler Talking To?

By the end of “The Batman,” the Riddler (Paul Dano) has had his evil plot thwarted by the Batman (Robert Pattinson). While the Riddler managed to set off a series of bombs that allowed for a biblical tide of flood water to enter Gotham proper, his assassination attempt, enacted by a small army of Riddler-like trolls (internet trolls not actual trolls), ultimately failed as well, thanks to Batman’s heroism. (Towards the end of the movie, he starts to understand that some of his actions might be a tad bit selfish and also that his style might be inspiring the wrong kind of person.)

Watching from his cell (in Arkham Asylum, naturally), the Riddler is outraged that his attempt to upend the status quo (part of an ongoing campaign against the founding families of Gotham) has been undermined. He begins to wail, childlike, in his cell. The prisoner next door hears him and tells him not to fret. You can only see this prisoner through a small rectangular slot in the door, but it’s clear that he has got some make-up or some disfigurement (or both). The implication is that the two of them could get up to something.

barry-keoghanGetty Images

“What is it they say? One day you’re on top, the next you’re a clown,” the Unseen Arkham Prisoner (as he’s officially billed) says to The Riddler.

And then the prisoner laughs.

Yes, the Riddler is stuck in containment next to this universe’s version of the Joker played Barry Keoghan, who had previously been announced as playing a GCPD officer named Stanley Merkel. Guess he really did have the last laugh. You may know Keoghan from his scene-stealing work in films like “Dunkirk” and “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” or more recently over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Druig in “Eternals.” And now, he’s The Joker.

The Batman

“The Batman” Director Confirms That Yes, That’s The Joker

TheWrap attended a screening of “The Batman” held on the Warner Bros. lot in February, and afterwards, there was a Q&A with Pattinson, director Matt Reeves, Zoë Kravitz (who plays Selina Kyle/Catwoman) and producer Dylan Clark. One of the first questions from the audience involved this scene and who, exactly, the character was.

“Who do you think he is? The unseen prisoner …” Reeves began. “He’s who you think he is. That’s who he is.” So there you have it: official confirmation that Keoghan (who had memorable roles in “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and “Eternals”) is, indeed, the Joker. What is perhaps interesting is that they were testing the movie, as recently as a few months ago, without the Joker cameo. It’s unclear if this was just to throw test audiences off the scent (and prevent leaks online) but clearly a no-Joker version was definitely an option.

Reeves went on to explain how this version of the Joker character is very much born out of the story he was trying to tell with “The Batman.” “The thing about the movie is, it isn’t a Batman origin story but it is an origin story for every rogues gallery character that you come across,” Reeves said. “Selina Kyle is not yet the Catwoman and the Penguin is not yet the kingpin, and the character you’re referring to is not yet the character you’re referring to, but it is, in fact, him.” In other words: he’s got a ways to go before he’s leaving playing cards at crimes and unleashing poison gas in Gotham, but it’s still the Joker we know and love.


Will The Joker Be the Villain of “The Batman” Sequel?

The appearance of the Joker certainly raises some tantalizing questions. Among them: were those goons that Batman beats up at the beginning of the movie just Halloween ghouls or were they somehow connected to the Joker? (He’s known for having a pretty robust gang.) Was the Joker’s emergence in Gotham inspired by Batman? And what role (if any) will the Joker have in the follow-up film, which has yet to been given the official greenlight from Warner Bros.?

Also, on a more practical level, has Keoghan signed on for more movies? If the Joker returns, will the 29-year-old actor return alongside with him?

It’ll be fascinating to see what take Reeves has on the character, especially given that under his watch the Riddler went from a puzzle-obsessive with a penchant for question-marks to a sadistic serial killer more in line with the Zodiac than any of Batman’s arch-nemeses.

the-batman-image-robert-pattinsonWarner Bros.

At the same Q&A TheWrap attended, Pattinson said that he would love to see Robin enter the fray and expressed a fondness for the “A Death in the Family” comic, the 1988 storyline written by Jim Starlin and inked by Jim Aparo (with covers by “Hellboy” creator Mike Mignola). Infamously, the storyline saw Robin (Jason Todd not Dick Grayson, who at the time was unavailable for use) killed by the Joker. Not that this was a sure thing. One of the issues ended with a cliffhanger, with Robin potentially blown to smithereens by the Joker. A write-in poll followed, allowing comics fans to decide Robin’s fate. Those bleak fans voted to have him die, and it would become one of the most unforgettable arcs in all of Batman comics.

That’d be one way to really introduce this new Joker: by having him kill Robin.