Michael Keaton’s Batman 1989 Sequel Teases The Joker’s Return

in DC

Jack Nicholson's Joker from 'Batman' (1989)

Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

One of the most beloved iterations of The Joker could be about to make a comeback in a sequel to Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), as several characters from the film have already been confirmed.

Fans of Michael Keaton‘s Batman have waited decades for another entry in the Tim Burton Batman series, which has since been dubbed the “Burton-Verse.” In 2021, their prayers were answered when DC Comics unleashed Batman ’89, an ongoing comic book series that captures the likeness of the characters from the films and follows Batman Returns (1992).

Michael Keaton made his long-awaited return as Bruce Wayne/Batman on the silver screen in last year’s Multiverse mayhem-fueled DC Universe flop, The Flash (2023) — not only was it shredded by fans and critics, it grossed $238M worldwide against its $125–160M budget — but a true sequel it was not. Now, a more authentic, Burton-centric sequel is in the works.

Related: DC Announces Official Sequels to Beloved ‘Batman’ and ‘Superman’ Films

Batman (1989) Gets Official Sequel

While Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) already has a sequel with Batman Returns, it’s now set to get another follow-up that takes place directly after the events of the first film. Star Wars author John Jackson Miller is penning a brand-new novel titled Batman: Resurrection (2024) with Penguin Random House, and it’s 100% canon with the Burton-Verse.

Earlier this month, Miller told io9, “Whereas the DC Batman ’89 comics are set after the Tim Burton films, I chose to make Batman: Resurrection a direct sequel novel to [the 1989 movie].” He added, “Characters ranging from Vicki Vale and Alexander Knox to Max Shreck and Selina Kyle [AKA Catwoman] from Batman Returns can appear in the book.”

And indeed they do, as revealed in the Penguin Random House synopsis. It also confirms the return of Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon — and let’s not forget the crime-fighting, shadow-dwelling Bat of Gotham himself. But no Bruce Wayne/Batman is complete without a certain Clown Prince of Gotham — whatever form that presence might take.

Michael Keaton firing his grapple-hook in 'Batman' (1989)
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

Related: All 7 Live-Action Jokers Ranked From Worst to Best

Jack Nicholson’s Joker May Return in the Batman (1989) Sequel

Surprisingly, the description teases the return of the main protagonist from the first film in the series — Jack Nicholson’s Jack Napier/The Joker — asking, “Could The Joker have somehow survived?” Read the snippet from Penguin Random House below:

“Having told the people of Gotham City that they’d earned a rest from crime, Batman finds the forces of evil growing ever more organized—and orchestrated—by a sinister hand behind the scenes. The World’s Greatest Detective must solve the greatest mystery of all: Could The Joker have somehow survived? And could he still have the last laugh against the people of Gotham City?”

It wouldn’t be the first time Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) has cheated death — technically, he is killed at the start of Batman (1989) after falling into chemicals, which, in turn, makes him The Joker. Then there’s the title of the upcoming book, Batman: Resurrection, which could allude to his return, even though we saw him fall to his death at the end of the film.

Batman (Michael Keaton) holding The Joker (Jack Nicholson) by the collar on a rooftop in 'Batman' (1989)
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of one of the most iconic villains in comic book history might have been followed by some memorable and far more nuanced performances, such as Cameron Monaghan (the TV series, Gotham), Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), and Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), but it remains a favorite among DC fans nonetheless.

But is he set to return after 35 years? Or is it simply his wicked influence that lives on through a mystery successor in the upcoming sequel to Batman (1989)? We’ll just have to wait and see if The Joker did have the last laugh, after all.

Batman: Resurrection is now available to pre-order from AmazonPenguin Random House, and Bookshop.

Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns star Bruce Wayne/Batman (Michael Keaton), Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Gough), Commissioner James Gordon (Pat Hingle), Max Shreck (Christopher Walken), Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin (Danny DeVito), Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger), and Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer).

Jack Nicholson as The Joker in 'Batman' (1989)
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

Related: 7 Actresses Who Could Play the Female Joker

The Joker Will Return in Other Batman Media

Batman: Resurrection isn’t the only “Batman” sequel arriving this October, as Joker: Folie à Deux (2024) hits theaters on October 4. The highly anticipated sequel to Joker (2019) reunites director Todd Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix, who reprises his role as Arthur Fleck/Joker, this time opposite Lady Gaga’s Harley Quinn in “a jukebox musical.”

Whether or not Barry Keoghan’s Joker will return in The Batman Part II (2025) remains to be seen. The Matt Reeves-directed sequel hits theaters on October 2, 2025.

Meanwhile, a Batman reboot titled The Brave and the Bold (TBA) is in the works. It will form part of the new DC Universe that’s being developed by DC Studios’ CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran and will feature a new Bruce Wayne/Batman actor.

Are you excited about this official Batman (1989) sequel? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

View Comments (2)