Matt Reeves' upcoming DC film, The Batman, is set to premiere in a few months and promises to take the Caped Crusader on an entirely new journey. With Robert Pattinson set to play the notorious DC character and Zoë Kravitz joining him as Catwoman, there is already a critical eye focused on the actors who will fulfill these DC roles.
Other notable members of The Batman's cast include Jeffrey Wright, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell, and many others. Farrell is set to play Penguin, one of a few Batman villains that are expected to appear in Reeves' film. He will be joined by Paul Dano's Riddler, who has been Batman's main tormenter throughout the released teasers. Farrell and Dano may also be joined by Barry Keoghan's rumored role as The Joker. Whether Keoghan appears as The Joker or solely in the role disclosed in his original casting announcement, he and Dano have proven that they are perfect candidates for The Batman and the grit DC has been known to bring to the screen.
Despite being announced to portray Stanley Merkel, a Gotham City officer who works closely with Wright's Jim Gordon, Keoghan has been rumored to take on the role of The Joker. Rumors began to surge after Keoghan's brother responded to online comments that hinted at Keoghan's Joker role, where he expressed his excitement that the news had finally broken. The comments were deleted soon after, but not before theories began to formulate online. While there have been no sightings of Keoghan in the teasers for The Batman, nor any signs of The Joker, it hasn't stopped fans from scouring the released material for any hints Reeves may have left behind.
If Keoghan does take on the role of The Joker, he certainly has the grounds to do so. Over the course of his career, Keoghan has starred in a number of roles where he is toying with the concept of morality and justice. In 2013, he starred in the fourth season of Love/Hate, an Irish drama series that focuses on the criminal underworld. It also starred Aiden Gillen, Robert Sheehan, Charlie Murphy, and Ruth Negga. In the fourth season, Keoghan played Wayne, a character who is still known for killing a cat with unnecessary force. Since then, Keoghan has gone on to play many other roles, including Druig in Chloé Zhao's Eternals. Prior to his role as the moody Celestial, Keoghan starred in a 2017 psychological thriller alongside one of his Batman costars that proves Keoghan could play a conniving Joker.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a 2017 A24 film that starred Keoghan as the lead antagonist, Martin. Martin attempts to exact revenge on Steven (Farrell), a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon who has trouble acknowledging his shortcomings and past faults. Martin infiltrates Steven's family (consisting of Nicole Kidman, Raffey Cassidy, and Sunny Suljic) and asks him to make an unimaginable choice: choose one member of his family to kill, or they all die. Keoghan's performance in The Killing of a Sacred Deer is particularly memorable because of the sinister intent of Martin that Keoghan manages to get across even in mundane, boy-next-door scenes with his own mother and Steven's children.
Much like Keoghan, Dano has proven himself to be worthy of a role like The Riddler. The Riddler won't be Dano's first villain who is known for his mind games and unorthodox approach. In 2013, Dano starred in Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners alongside Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, and Melissa Leo. Prisoners follows Keller Dover (Jackman) and Franklin Birch (Howard) after their daughters are abducted during a holiday celebration. Dano plays the main suspect, Alex Jones, who is seen driving the camper the two girls were climbing on shortly before they were abducted. Throughout Prisoners, Alex taunts Keller by letting information slip that suggests he knows more about their disappearances than he lets on.
Given the popularity of characters like The Joker and The Riddler, and the many times these characters have been portrayed on both the big and small screen, it's crucial that the actors who are given these roles are able to bring new elements to the table. Over the years, The Joker has been portrayed by Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, Jared Leto, and Joaquin Phoenix. The Riddler has been portrayed by the likes of Frank Gorshin, John Astin, and Jim Carrey. Fox's Gotham also saw these characters played by Cameron Monaghan and Cory Michael Smith respectively. Each of these actors has brought something different to these DC villains and while not all of their performances have been celebrated, there has been a lot to take away from each rendition.
Throughout their careers, Keoghan and Dano have taken roles that showcase their ability to hack into a devious mind and portray some of the vilest and most haunting characters within the thriller genre. While The Batman roles surely came with challenges, it will be interesting to see what these two are able to bring to the grim city of Gotham. Dano's Riddler is said to draw on the Zodiac Killer, meaning the version of The Riddler that will appear in Reeves' Batman will be much darker than any previous adaptation. As for Keoghan, whether he appears as The Joker or merely as GCPD officer Stanely Merkel, whose character is riddled with criminal connections he likes to keep hidden, the talent Keoghan possesses to leave behind haunting anecdotes for even the most ordinary characters, may prove useful.
The Batman releases in theaters on March 4, 2022.
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