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The Batman Trailer Teases The Perfect World For Phoenix's Joker


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The trailer for Matt Reeves' The Batman teases the perfect world for Joaquin Phoenix's Joker to appear in. After Todd Philips 1981-set Joker origin story grossed $1.1 billion dollars worldwide, fans became clamoring for a crossover with the new, grittier Joker to appear alongside an adult Batman, following an appearance by a young Bruce Wayne in the villain's origin story. Now that the teaser has been released online for The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson in the title role, audiences look to be receiving a Batman film that appears to be as dark and gritty as the Taxi Driver-inspired Joker movie was in 2019. Paul Dano's Riddler resembles the Zodiac killer as seen in David Fincher's Zodiac (a thriller set in the late '70s), and comparisons have already been made between The Batman and Fincher's other iconic crime thriller Seven. The dark palette shared between the three movies create a natural path that leads to Joker, which was lauded for its adult take on comic book material. With a Joker yet to be cast for The Batman franchise, could Phoenix's Joker be the perfect fit?

Although the first teaser trailer for The Batman is brief, it's tone is clear. Where Ben Affleck's Batman under Zack Snyder embraced its comic book roots, paying tribute to Jim Lee's buff rendition of the character and having the Caped Crusader fighting Darkseid's Parademons in Justice League, Robert Pattinson's Batman has more in common with the realism of Christian Bale's Batman under Christopher Nolan in The Dark Knight trilogy. The Batman is a street-level take on the character in his infancy, thanks in part to this being 'Year 2' of his time as Batman, fighting local gangsters like Penguin (Colin Farrell) and jewel thieves like Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), whilst hot on the trail of The Riddler, who appears to be a serial killer with a grudge.

The street-level focus of The Batman already brings it to the point of being the perfect world for Joaquin Phoenix's Joker; a man who is rocked by multiple tragedies in his personal life and a society that either steps on or around him. There are no superheroes in Joker; just bad people and corrupt politicians, leading one crazed clown to claim his own kind of vengeance. The Gotham of The Batman doesn't look like it has any superheroes either; just a man dressed all in black claiming "I'm vengeance." With DC introducing their Multiverse for 2022, The Batman and Joker now have the potential causality to interact. Here's why The Batman trailer teases the perfect world for Joaquin Phoenix's Joker.

Gotham's 'Giant Rat' Problem Is In Reeves' World Too

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In paying homage to Taxi Driver, which was filmed during a sanitation strike in New York City, Joker too is set during a sanitation strike. Piles of garbage bags litter the streets of Gotham, and the emergence of 'super rats' is documented on the nightly news. At one point a giant rat is seen crossing the sidewalk as Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) uses a phone booth. The entire giant-rat motif is a metaphor for the corruption and filth of Gotham City, and a similar vibe is used in the world of The Batman. In the trailer for The Batman, we see a brief glimpse of the City of Gotham Sanitation Eastside Depot. The setting looks to be where local gangster the Penguin - played by an unrecognizable Colin Farrell - looks to be engaging in some nefarious criminal activities.

Elsewhere in the trailer for The Batman, the Caped Crusader tussles with some GCPD officers in their own headquarters, and we get a menacing look from Commissioner Pete Savage (Alex Ferns) as he addresses the press. According to Reeves, when talking about his upcoming HBO Max GCPD spin-off show, "the history of corruption in Gotham is enormous and goes back many years", so it's fair to assume that Commissioner Savage and the officers tussling with Batman are going to be corrupt individuals. The 'giant rat' problem extends from the Gotham of Joaquin Phoenix's Joker all the way to the Gotham of The Batman. Gotham will always be depicted as a terrible city in desperate need of a clean-up, but in Joker and The Batman, the city seems to be plumbing new depths, perfect for the two to co-inhabit.

The Batman & The Joker Are Both Against Corruption
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As the corruption of Gotham's authorities has been established in both Joker and The Batman, with Batman obviously standing against such corruption, it's equally plausible to establish a link between Batman's anti-corruption stance and Joker's anti-authoritarianism. Dating back to Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight, the Joker has oft been depicted as a character who wants to tear down societal structures for the chaos or fun of it. In Joker, Arthur Fleck struggles with the delusion that Thomas Wayne (Bruce Wayne's father) is his own father, having been fed the lie by his mother who suffered from her own mental issues. When assaulted by Thomas, Arthur turns on him and begins to see the quote-unquote philanthropist for the bad man he truly is. Arthur Fleck ends up causing mass rioting with his killing of talk show host Murray (Robert De Niro) in his big appearance on Murray's show. Fleck becomes a symbol for the rising distrust in Gotham's politicians and wealthy elite, representing the downtrodden and forgotten people at the other end of society's ladder. His anti-corruption stance reflects Pattinson's Batman in The Batman, allowing for another perfect crossover of the characters into each other's worlds.

Reeves' Noir Tone Perfectly Suits Phoenix's Joker

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Whilst Matt Reeves is perhaps best known for his sequels to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the director has a history of adapting dark material such as Let the Right One In; its remake (directed by Reeves) known as Let Me In was as 'noir-ish' as the original Scandinavian vampire movie, if not more so. The obvious noir tone of The Batman, presenting itself as a detective story following Batman as he attempts to solve the riddles of the Riddler, is compounded by Reeves' assertion that this is indeed a "noir-driven, Batman detective story". The noir tone of The Batman perfectly suits the dark, gritty tone of Joaquin Phoenix's Joker, which pulled no punches in showing a drab, dirty city where good people are brought low. Matt Reeves recently went on record at DC FanDome stating how the film was inspired by Taxi Driver - which also served as an inspiration for Joker.

How A Cross-Over Could Work

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The Joaquin Phoenix-starring Joker was set in 1981 and The Batman appears to be set in the modern day (considering the amount of modern tech glimpsed in the trailer), meaning that Arthur Fleck would have to be forty years older by the time Pattinson's Batman begins hitting the streets. As Arthur Fleck was likely 32-33 years old during the events of Joker, this would put him at being 72-73 years old when Pattinson's Batman becomes active.While it's easy to imagine the Joker being prolific in his crimes into his old age, it wouldn't necessarily make for the most logical on-screen rivalry. Rather, DC having announced their cinematic Multiverse, it's more likely that fans could Robert Pattinson's Batman cross the time stream into a parallel reality where it's 1981 and he encounters Phoenix's Joker - or vice versa, with Phoenix's Joker appearing in the present day of The Batman. Alternatively, DC can cast Joaquin Phoenix for The Batman 2, but explain it away as being a parallel version of the Joker from Joker that exists in that world's modern day.

The Batman (2021)
Release Date: Oct 21, 2021

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