When does Batman meet the Joker?
While details vary, Joker is typically one of the first supervillains Batman faces after starting his war on crime. Batman from 1989 portrayed Joker as the very first supervillain to oppose Batman (that we know of), even revealing that a young Jack Napier was the criminal who murdered the Waynes. However, this is usually not how the story unfolds. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is more faithful to the source material in this regard. Batman Begins ends with Batman and James Gordon beginning to take notice of Joker, and the villain does not fully emerge until a year later in The Dark Knight, challenging a Batman who believes himself to have become the master of his city. comics, Joker made his debut in 1940s Batman # 1, a year after Batman himself first appeared in 1939’s Detective Comics # 27. That same issue also features Catwoman’s first appearance, and both of these characters predate the first appearances of Riddler and Penguin, two villains we know have roles to play in The Batman. Based on this, it is certainly not unreasonable to assume that Joker started his criminal frenzy in the world of The Batman. The original Joker story even featured the character murdering wealthy citizens of Gotham, much like the murder mystery set in the new movie.
The Batman is set in the second year of Batman’s career. This also happens to be the general period of Jeph Loeb and Batman: The Long Halloween by Tim Sale, a graphic novel focused on murder and mystery that seems to have a significant influence on the film. The Long Halloween features the origin of Two-Face, while nearly every other classic Batman thug (Joker included) is already established at this point. This could be one more reason to believe that Joker already exists in this universe whether or not he appears in the movie.
However, the exact timeline of Joker’s debut is less important than the dynamic between Batman and his nemesis. Getting back to Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Joker is a character who challenges Batman’s notions of justice and the idea that he can ultimately save his city if he stays engaged. Joker is to appear at a time when Batman is confident in his skills and methods, acting as an agent of chaos to overthrow Batman’s carefully crafted order system. Everything Matt Reeves has said about Pattinson’s Batman to DC FanDome suggests that this Batman is still tough around the edges and learns his way on the job. Even though Joker is hiding somewhere in Gotham, it may be too early for him to make his presence known.
The clown gang
Interestingly, the trailer appears to be almost encouraging questions about the Joker thanks to the scene where Batman takes on a gang of criminals in clown makeup. Are we to assume these are Joker’s henchmen? It is certainly possible. Even if Joker himself is keeping a low profile, director Matt Reeves may want to include hints that he’s plotting and eventually become a major thorn on Batman’s side.
However, another possibility is that the gang is a prelude to the creation of the Joker himself. One of the takeaways from this scene is that Batman is not having the desired effect on the criminal world of Gotham. Ordinary citizens fear the armored vigilante will terrorize their streets, but these gang members seem like a whole different story. They’re not afraid, at least until Batman beats one of their numbers into a bloody paste. If anything, the black and white clown makeup with its vague Day of the Dead motif may be a sign that criminals are starting to follow Batman’s lead. To make up a line from Ra’s al Ghul by Liam Neeson, they use theatrics and deception much like the Dark Knight himself.
Joker may be the end result of this phenomenon – a villain who understands the power of a symbol just as well as Batman himself. And it could be that one of those same criminals that Batman tries to intimidate would graduate to become the Joker in the sequel.
If so, the new series could take inspiration from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman: Zero Year. Zero Year takes place during the first few months of Batman’s career and features Riddler as his main villain. However, the man who becomes Joker plays a central role early in the story. Zero Year draws on earlier stories like The Killing Joke which depict Joker posing as the Red Hood before falling into that infamous vat of toxic chemicals. In this version of events, an entire gang of criminals known as the Red Hood Gang (most of whom are ordinary citizens blackmailed into joining them) terrorize Gotham before Batman confronts their leader, Red Hood. One. This showdown ends with Red Hood One falling into poisonous chemicals, suggesting that he could emerge on the other side as the Joker.
The film could feature a similar showdown, with Batman taking out the Clown Gang, only to inadvertently engender a much greater threat when one of those Clowns is inspired to become something much bigger and more terrible.
Is the Batman a sequel to Joker?
There has been speculation The Batman is actually a follow-up to the Joker of 2019. This speculation was fueled in part by early rumors that The Batman is a period play set in the 1990s. The timing certainly matches up. . Joker is set in 1981, so this version of Bruce Wayne would likely return to Gotham and begin his crusade just as Ace of Base was all the rage.
However, based on the trailer, it would appear that The Batman isn’t actually a ’90s movie. Even so, the movie is reminiscent of Joker. It’s incredibly dark, gloomy, and violent – basically as close to tonal Joker as it gets while still allowing a protagonist to dress up in a military-grade bat costume. Even the newly revealed logo is eerily similar to Joker’s. It’s basically the same font and everything.
To be clear, The Batman is probably not a sequel to Joker. While this is a very dark take on the Batman mythos, we don’t see Warner Bros. linking the rebooted franchise to an R-rated prequel. Not to mention the fact that Gotham City’s version of Joker isn’t than a barely disguised New York, while Gotham in The Batman is a gothic wonderland built on the backbone of Liverpool.
Still, it’s easy to see how The Batman might connect with Joker if Warners were so inclined. The Clown Gang could be a group of criminals inspired by the legendary Arthur Fleck. Depending on how you choose to interpret Joker’s ambiguous ending, Fleck himself could still be locked inside Arkham Asylum, or another villain could be inspired to take over from the Joker. Even though Warners never makes the connection explicit, Joker could be seen as an unofficial prequel to The Batman.
For more on the upcoming reboot, see why it might not be the Riddler leaving a body trail in the trailer, why the movie doesn’t seem to be set in the ’90s after all, and find out how the Gotham PD prequel series ties together.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.