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Joker Teaser Trailer Has A Batman Villain Easter Egg

Riddle us this: If you combed through the first teaser trailer for Joaquin Phoenix's Joker film, would you spot the hidden nod to another famous Batman villain?

After Warner Bros. unleashed two and a half minutes of glorious Joker footage earlier this week, fans picked apart each scene, analyzed every frame, and watched the whole thing — multiple times and in slow-motion — in efforts to catch every subtle reference to pop culture and to Batman comics past. People picked up on the wink at The King of Comedy with Robert De Niro's casting as a talk show host, the parallel to a classic Joker costume in the teaser's final shots, and the allusion to another famous pale-faced icon, Charlie Chaplin, with the banners hanging outside Wayne Hall. 

What most may not have noticed the first, second, or tenth time around is that the Joker teaser also includes what could be an Easter egg for the Riddler, a longtime foe of Batman. 

At the 57-second mark of the footage, during the scene in which Phoenix's Arthur Fleck is standing in an elevator at Arkham State Hospital, viewers can spot green-ink graffiti on the wall behind him. It looks to spell out "miz," hiz," or "wiz," and is followed by a question mark. Though the word seems to be nothing more than a nonsensical string of letters that don't hold any deeper meaning, that punctuation mark is intriguing, as it's the insignia of Edward Nygma, better known as the Riddler. Fans are beginning to think that this could mean the Riddler is hiding in the shadows of director Todd Phillips' version of Gotham City. 

One of the famous famous baddies in the Dark Knight's rogues gallery, the Riddler has spent a ton of time locked up in Arkham Asylum — seemingly reimagined for Joker as Arkham State Hospital, of which Arthur Fleck is apparently a regular visitor. That this sneaky green question mark appears not just anywhere but on an elevator in Gotham's infamous place for the criminally insane where the Riddler has been held adds some credence to the idea that the graffiti could be a legitimate Riddler Easter egg. 

It wouldn't be the only clever nod to Batman comics featured in the new Joker footage — or the only one included in connection with Arkham State Hospital. Just after the camera sweeps across Gotham City in the first few seconds, the teaser shows Phoenix's Arthur sitting opposite a social worker, played by Sharon Washington. Upon first glance, she seems like an average character — but taking a closer look and zooming in on the name tag she wears reveals that her name is Debra Kane. If that surname sounds familiar, it's because it's the same one as Batman co-creator Bob Kane and as Batman's cousin Kate Kane, otherwise known as Batwoman. In Joker, Washington's Debra Kane works for the Department of Health and questions Arthur about whether it helps "to have someone to talk to" — so could she be the one to encourage Arthur to seek help at Arkham when his mental health deteriorates, leading him to encounter the Riddler? Could she somehow be related to Kate Kane's family — and thus Bruce Wayne's? 

It's possible, but as the potential Easter eggs for the Riddler, Bob Kane, and Kate Kane prove, there are a lot of ways to read into the Joker teaser... and it might be reading too much. 

For instance, also included in the footage is a street sign that reads "Jerome Ave." The DC television series Gotham features a character named Jerome Valeska, who is a precursor to the Joker, much like Arthur Fleck is the man who eventually becomes the clownish criminal in the upcoming Joker movie. If you think about it hard enough, countless different conclusions can be gleaned from that simple street name — like a theory about multiple Jokers roaming around this iteration of Gotham City, or the idea that because Jerome Valeska wasn't the real Joker on Gotham that perhaps maybe Arthur Fleck isn't the real Joker in Phillips' adaptation of the DC Comics lore.

Another tiny detail that could be blown out of proportion? The existence of Holmes Pharmacy, which appears 10 seconds into the teaser, when Arthur is walking through the city streets that are lined with garbage. Batman is known as the world's greatest detective — and so is, that's right, Sherlock Holmes. With a little mental gymnastics, one could deduce that Joker including a pharmacy seemingly named for the other best crime-solver on the planet might tease how Arthur's life connects with Bruce Wayne's. Arthur, openly struggling with mental health issues as revealed by the scribblings in his journal, could be walking to Holmes Pharmacy to pick up a prescription. By visiting Holmes Pharmacy, Arthur is, in some way, seeking aid from a great detective (or, you know, a place bearing the same name as one). Later on in life, the other great detective, Batman himself, is a major reason for the Joker's pain and anguish. 

Taking all this into account, it's clear how easy it is to make something out of what very well could be nothing. The green question mark inked on the Arkham State Hospital elevator is certainly interesting, but whether it's actually a Riddler Easter egg is anyone's guess. Could it be? Sure! Might it just be Todd Phillips wanting to tip his hat to the comics while keeping Joker its own outside-of-the-DCEU thing? Absolutely! 

The beauty of this uncertainty is that fans now have yet another reason to look forward to Joker — beyond what looks to be a bang-up performance by Phoenix. When the film opens in theaters on October 4, all questions shall be answered and all potential Easter eggs will, hopefully, be followed up on.