When it was announced that former Twilight actor Robert Pattinson had been selected as the new Batman, there was some skepticism from fans of the Gotham City franchise.
But the 2022 movie in which he made his caped crusader debut, The Batman, confounded the critics, drew plenty of plaudits, and did nicely at the box office – taking around $750 million from a budget of $200 million.
Pattinson’s foes included Penguin (Colin Farrell) and The Riddler (Paul Dano), and now fans of the DC Universe are hoping that it’s Joker who acts as the foil to Bruce Wayne’s alter ego. But who would play the sadistic smiler, and in what style would they portray him? In theory, the favorite might be Joaquin Phoenix, whose darker take on the role in Todd Phillips’ origin story earned rave reviews. However, The Batman director Matt Reeves has since revealed that Phoenix won’t portray the Joker while he is commanding the future of the franchise.
So, where will those involved in the creative process take Joker next?
Ledger Over Leto
Fans of a certain vintage will remember one of the first portrayals of Joker on the silver screen – Cesar Romero’s slightly camp version in the 1960s that, light-hearted repartee aside, could still bring a sense of sinister darkness when the script required. As far as more modern-day takes are concerned, it would be fair to say that Heath Ledger’s Joker is the one that is most fondly remembered – equally funny, violent, and deranged, he hit the brief spot on and, alongside Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, helped to breathe new life into the decades-old series.
Jared Leto’s version in Suicide Squad was critically panned, and while slightly harsh on the actor it’s fair to say the design elements – including the questionable tattoos and shiny silver teeth grill – were too far away from the general consensus on Joker’s appearance to prove favorable.
Even so, the character remains immensely popular and continues to cross over into other areas of entertainment. DC revealed they were launching a new Joker comic book in 2021, he featured heavily in the much-loved Arkham series of video games, and the ‘jester’ trope has been used extensively in other gaming spheres at real money online casinos. Games like Joker’s Riches and Sizzling Hot Jokers, available at 888 Casino, utilize a central character that tips its hat to the legacy of The Joker – from Romero to the modern era. The fact that this iconic character is being used to appeal to attract players really demonstrates his mass appeal.
A Glimpse Into the Future
Anyone that has seen The Batman in theaters or at home may have enjoyed a glimpse at the next Joker… without necessarily realizing it.
Without giving away too many spoilers for those that haven’t seen the movie, Batman spends some time investigating a certain character within Arkham Asylum – introduced anonymously as a cellmate neighbor of The Riddler’s. But some deleted scenes and extended takes reveal that the individual, played by Irish actor Barry Keoghan, might actually be The Joker… certainly based upon his physical scars and slightly intimidating demeanor.
Reeves has confirmed that this is The Joker in his earliest form, although there will be a slow build to the point where he is ready to take the lead as Batman’s arch-nemesis. “Here we have a version of this character who is not yet The Joker, but is going to become The Joker, and I wanted Batman to have had an experience with him that put him in Arkham,” the director revealed. Reeves references The Man Who Laughs, a 1928 silent film in which a physically disfigured individual is shunned by his community despite the great lengths he goes to help people.
One thing that is for sure – the next Joker, be it portrayed by Keoghan or otherwise, is likely to continue the darker personality traits first embodied by Ledger in his triumphant turn.