The end of Batman explained: a final enigma for the public
The director should Matt Reeves ends such a dark and dark film with a laugh. All sorts.
After Batman spends The Batman making his way through the damp and grimy streets and alleys of Gotham City, pursuing a psychotic but calculating killer who uses elaborate puzzles to exact revenge on the city’s corrupt rulers, the hero catches the villain. Paul Dano‘s Riddler is safely housed in a cell in Arkham, the notorious asylum where Gotham’s thieves’ gallery of freaks, killers, and monsters tend to hang out (or originate).
But that doesn’t end things. The Riddler’s incarceration is part of his plan, and he’s unleashed countless acolytes around town who have been radicalized online, Qanon-style, to continue his destructive plot. They invade the city to disrupt a free and fair election, planting bombs along the seawall that flood Gotham’s heart with a man-made tsunami. Pattinson’s Batman, with help from Zoe Kravitzis Catwoman and Jeffrey Wrightlawman James Gordon, go to war against these insurgents and save the city. Again, sort of. Gotham is mostly reduced to a watery wasteland, but it still could have been much worse.
Dano’s Riddler is crestfallen that he didn’t cause more harm. But he is soon cheered up by an inmate from a neighboring cell, whose face we can barely see. This stranger sympathizes with the Riddler and even comes up with his own puzzle. “Riddle tells me…”, says the invisible man, borrowing the Riddler’s own catchphrase. “The less you have, the more one is worth.”
The answer, of course, is “a friend”. And the Riddler just made one. He doesn’t get a formal introduction, and neither does the audience, but the smirk makes it pretty easy to guess who we just met. It’s the joker.
Reeves confirmed the presence of the Joker in The Batman even before the release of the film. The only thing that’s really obscured is who could play the most famous of all Batman villains, and the credits aren’t much help. There is no “Joker” listed there, but there is a high level cameo listed under “Unnamed Arkham Prisoner”. The performer in question recently appeared in another comic book franchise as a hero.