TV & Movies

The Riddler Wasn’t The Only Familiar Villain In The Batman

Be warned: spoilers ahead!

Robert Pattinson as Batman in 'The Batman.'
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics

Major spoilers follow for The Batman.

Near the conclusion of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, after The Riddler’s (Paul Dano) grand plan to assassinate the newly-elected mayor of Gotham fails, he is distraught. Up until this point, The Riddler has been running the show. During his reign of terror, he hunted down and murdered Gotham’s most prominent public figures, targeting the liars and cheaters first. And he capped it all off by blowing up the dams around the city, flooding a significant portion of Gotham. But in the end, he had expected Batman (Robert Pattinson) to be on his side, rather than help take him down — a key miscalculation.

As he mourns at Arkham Asylum, The Riddler is comforted by his neighboring cellmate. The other prisoner’s full face is never shown, but by the looks of his ghoulish smile and unmistakable cackle, it seems The Joker is back.

In the credit sequence, the character, played by Irish actor Barry Keoghan, is listed as “Unseen Arkham Prisoner.” Though, if the rumors are true, Gotham’s least favorite clown seems to be setting up a sequel. He appears right when The Riddler needs a pick-me-up, speaking to him through their cell walls: “One minute you're on top, the next ... you’re a clown.” Only time will tell what kind of havoc this friendship will wreak on the city of Gotham.

The Joker, now presumably played by Keoghan (best known for 2017’s Dunkirk and 2021’s Eternals), has always been one of Batman’s most formidable foes. In Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, Jack Nicholson brought his comedic talents to the role. The Joker appeared again in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, with Heath Ledger delivering an incredible, Academy Award-winning performance as the clown. The villain is also featured in Zach Snyder’s Justice League and Suicide Squad, played by Jared Leto (who famously sent his costars dead pigs as he prepared for the role), and in Todd Phillips’ Joker, played by in Joaquin Phoenix. Over the last two decades of Batman movies, we’ve seen The Joker hold Gotham hostage several times.

There are already hints that a sequel to The Batman is coming, with Reeves himself saying the powers that be have “started talking.” Will it see The Joker and The Riddler team up? If the comics are any indication, that wouldn’t end well for anyone. For instance, over the span of Batman issues 25-32, written by Tom King, The War of Jokes and Riddles finds The Joker and The Riddler joining forces. After The Riddler’s stint in prison, he and The Joker decide they will take down Batman. Things get complicated when The Joker decides he doesn’t actually want him dead, which ignites a war that nearly destroys Gotham entirely.

Before we can expect a Batman sequel, Reeves has confirmed there will be an HBO Max spin-off series centering on Colin Farrell’s Penguin, which “connects from where we’re leaving the story [in The Batman],” according to Deadline. As they say, every hero needs a villain. Luckily, Batman has a whole group of them itching to take him out.