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The 'Joker' Batman Villain Reference We All Definitely Missed

We see what you did there, Joker. 

The smash hit standalone entry into the Worlds of DC franchise contains a sly reference to another, lesser-known Batman villain — one that will soon be appearing on the big screen for the first time in James Gunn's The Suicide Squad. (via We Got This Covered)

Early on in director and co-writer Todd Phillips' film, we see a news report detailing the squalor that Gotham is falling into — and particular mention is made of the fact that the city is becoming overrun with "super rats." It's a rather silly term made all the more humorous by a subsequent joke about how "super cats" could potentially handle the problem — but in that throwaway gag, Batman fans heard a reference to a member of the Caped Crusader's rogues' gallery who knows a thing or two about weaponized rodents.

This would be Ratcatcher, a villain who made his first appearance in the pages of Detective Comics way back in 1988. The villainous alter-ego of former exterminator Otis Flannegan, Ratcatcher is... well, sort of like Ant-Man, but with rats. Flannegan turned to a life of crime after discovering his bizarre and seemingly innate ability to communicate with and train ordinary sewer rodents, which he can use for a variety of purposes; thievery, distraction, or simply overwhelming targets with thousands of furry little rat bodies and sets of gnashing teeth. (We're sorry for that bad case of heebie-jeebies we just inflicted you with.)

Ratcatcher is also well-versed in various poisonous gases due to his former vocation, and with his encyclopedic knowledge of Gotham's sewer system, he's proven himself to be a formidable and elusive opponent despite his somewhat dubious superpower. Interestingly enough, the villain was one of several underutilized members of the Dark Knight's rogues' gallery to be selected for inclusion by Gunn in the latest cinematic incarnation of the Suicide Squad.

The soft reboot will feature a gender-swapped version of the character portrayed by Hollywood newcomer Daniela Melchior, who will appear among an absolutely stacked cast that includes Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Sean Gunn, David Dastmalchian, and Storm Reid. Gunn was brought on board to engage in a little course-correction after 2016's Suicide Squad, which was written and directed by Training Day's David Ayer, disappointed many fans with its jumbled tone, uninspired climax, and a take on the Joker (courtesy of Jared Leto) that was not quite so well-received as the one turned in by Joker star Joaquin Phoenix.

Joker is not a film that is overly concerned with serving up lots of Easter eggs for the fans, and it's even less concerned with establishing connections to the other films in the franchise formerly known as the DC Extended Universe — so fans that caught this reference could be forgiven for wondering if, just maybe, Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver had included it for a reason. Was the Ratcatcher reference just a throwaway gag — or is there a little synergy going on here between Joker and The Suicide Squad?

Will Joker connect to The Suicide Squad?

Alas, fans hoping for a connection between the two films — or for a connection between Joker and any other Worlds of DC movie, for that matter — are going to be disappointed. Joker was conceived from the very beginning as a singular project, and even though the flick is busting box office records left and right, Phillips and Phoenix have been clear on their shared stance that while they're open to the idea of a sequel if they can pin down the right story, they have zero interest in connecting Joker to the franchise at large.

Heck, Phillips has gone so far as to say that there's no way audiences are ever even going to see Phoenix's Joker facing off against any version of Batman; that any continuation of the character's story would, like Joker, keep the focus squarely on the Clown Price of Crime himself. The director even admitted that one of the reasons he chose to set Joker in the early '80s was to separate it from the other Worlds of DC movies, which are all set in the present day. 

Simply put, the Ratcatcher reference was nothing more than a gag; Joker won't cross over in any meaningful fashion with any other DC movies, The Suicide Squad included. All things considered, this is probably for the best. While Phillips has suggested that Phoenix's Arthur Fleck might be a sort of "proto-Joker" who serves as an influence on the man who will eventually become Bruce Wayne's nemesis, it seems likely that The Suicide Squad will be forced to acknowledge Leto's version of the character. Even in a film that features a woman who talks to rats and a humanoid shark, we would find the notion that Fleck could inspire a guy who's willing to sit for a forehead tattoo to be a bit of a stretch.