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Robert Pattinson Confirms No Connection Between The Batman And Joker

If you're waiting for Joaquin Phoenix's Joker to square off against his famous nemesis, you're going to be waiting a long time. Like, forever.

The Batman star Robert Pattinson has confirmed what Joker director Todd Phillips has already proclaimed: the much buzzed-about flick centered on the iconic DC villain will not connect to the upcoming Dark Knight solo vehicle in any way.

In a recent conversation with Yahoo! Entertainment in support of his intriguing, Robert Eggers-helmed horror feature The Lighthouse, the latest (eminently qualified) actor to fill the cape and cowl didn't have much to say about the forthcoming Batman re-reboot — but he was quick to shoot down any notion that Joker, by far the most talked-about film of the fall, and The Batman could connect in any meaningful way.

"It's kind of a different world," the actor said, alluding to the fact that the former DC Extended Universe — now formally known as "Worlds of DC" — is no longer in the business of building one unified cinematic universe along the lines of that famously (and improbably) constructed by rival Marvel Studios. Pattinson did, however, offer up unqualified props to the man who would be his arch-enemy in some other, more cohesive universe. "I might watch [Joker] tonight," he said. "Joaquin is the best. He's awesome in everything." 

It's certainly a case of talent recognizing talent. He's right, Phoenix pretty much is awesome in everything — but Pattinson happens to be one of the great unheralded aces of modern Hollywood, flying under the mainstream radar with towering performances in indie flicks such as 2017's Good Time and 2018's High Life. If you're only familiar with him from his work as sparkly vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight series, you are out of the loop — not that Pattinson cares all that much, having his millions of dollars, prodigious talent, and status as the latest in a distinguished line of actors to be handed the role of Bruce Wayne to fall back on.

While one could certainly make the case that it would be pretty damn satisfying to see Pattinson's Dark Knight and Phoenix's Clown Prince of Crime going mano e mano (or bat e clown, if you prefer), we are of the firm opinion that the separation that's been established here is absolutely for the best. Phillips' Joker was conceived as its own singular thing, and while he and Phoenix haven't completely ruled out the possibility of a sequel, it would be one that continues to explore the character of Arthur Fleck — not one that indulges in fan service by shoveling Batman into the mix.

Phillips purposefully set his film in the early '80s to set it apart chronologically from the rest of the "Worlds of DC" pictures — and he's even implied that, as fans have suggested, the fact that Bruce Wayne is a child during the events of Joker might just mean that Fleck isn't the real Joker at all, but someone who would go on to inspire Wayne's future nemesis.

Insanely popular as Joker might be, shoehorning Phoenix's Joker into a Batman film would, in our humble opinion, be unwise, and a disservice to the actor's interpretation of the character. Having said that, it's not like there's no way that the Bat and the Clown will ever meet onscreen again.

What's next for Batman and the Joker in the Worlds of DC?

Pattinson has been mum on the number of pictures in his contract, so for all we know, The Batman — which Reeves has promised will be a gritty, noir-ish take on the character focusing on his detective skills — might be a one-and-done effort just like Joker. Also, all the pigs in the world might sprout wings and start flying tomorrow, but... probably not. What we're saying here is that we're of the belief that Warner Bros. and DC Films are exercising extreme caution in the wake of the relative failure of the first four films in their franchise, but that the clear intention is for The Batman to begin a new series. 

Warner Bros. might not have been so adept Marvel-style universe building, but the studio obviously learned a few things from the artistic and commercial success of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, and one of those lessons may well have been, "don't jump the gun as far as the Joker is concerned." One criticism of Tim Burton's 1989 flick Batman — arguably the mother of modern superhero cinema — is that it killed off the iconic villain before he could return for sequels, a lesson that still had not been learned by the time Sam Raimi decided to off the Green Goblin in 2002's Spider-Man. 

Nolan's trilogy, by contrast, didn't introduce the Joker until the second film — and if not for the untimely death of the brilliant Heath Ledger, it's quite likely that the character would have gone on to be a thorn in Bats' side in the third film of the trilogy, and perhaps even longer. Even more so than when Nolan's films were released, superhero films these days are all about character development — and The Batman may be taking that aesthetic to the next level.

Eyebrows were raised when the rumor was reported that the flick may feature as many as six villains; after all, the dreaded "villain bloat" has sunk the critical fortunes of even the most hotly anticipated superhero movies (we're looking at you, Spider-Man 3). What's not clear, though, is how far along in their supervillain careers all of these characters will be; indeed, even though Zoë Kravitz has been cast as Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Paul Dano has landed the role of Edward Nygma/Riddler, it's in no way guaranteed that their characters will have fully developed their villainous personas by the film's end.

The Batman could in fact be laying groundwork for future films, allowing Bats' various nemeses to fully develop as characters before going full-on supervillain — and if that is the case (and we think it likely), then Reeves is playing the kind of long game that we simply haven't seen in Batman movies before. If it's successful, and The Batman spirals into a bonafide franchise, is he going to want to introduce the Joker at some point? Oh, you'd better believe it — and it won't be Phoenix's version, and it certainly won't be Jared Leto's. It'll be a completely new interpretation, perhaps one that can antagonize Pattinson's Caped Crusader over multiple films... for once. 

This is our sincere hope, and if it's not the sincere hope of Warner Bros. and DC Films, then we'll eat a pine cone with a nice aioli. Phoenix was great as Arthur Fleck, but we're hoping that Reeves will give us a proper cinematic version of that eternal struggle between the ego and the id, the yin and the yang... the Bat and the Clown. We believe in you, Mr. Reeves, so do feel free to ignore the crushing weight of the DC fandom's expectations.

The Batman hits the big screen on June 25, 2021.