Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Joker.
The future of Bruce Wayne is one of the big unanswered questions in Joker - in all likelihood, the newly orphaned billionaire will grow up to become Batman but he could also transform himself into Rainbow Batman. Director Todd Phillips intense re-imagining of the Joker's origin sees failed standup comic Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) succumb to madness and become the Clown Prince of Crime but the grisly film also adds new twist to the murder of Thomas (Brett Cullen) and Martha Wayne (Carrie Louise Putrello): they are murdered in an alley after watching Zorro The Gay Blade. Could this version of Zorro inspire young Bruce (Dante Pereira-Olson) to become Rainbow Batman?
In Batman comics, the Wayne murders traditionally happen after the family watched The Mark of Zorro; the classic 1940 film about the swashbuckling vigilante dressed in black becomes one of Bruce's inspirations when, as an adult, he decides on his methodology in his war against Gotham's criminals. However, Zorro The Gay Blade is an eyebrow-raising switch by Joker's filmmakers that could potentially lead to a bizarre variation on Batman's origin story. It makes a certain amount of sense that The Gay Blade is the Zorro movie the Waynes saw in Joker; which is set in 1981, the same year Zorro The Gay Blade was released. Starring George Hamilton in the dual-title role, the plot of Zorro The Gay Blade is about an injured Don Diego Vega becoming unable to fight evil as Zorro. Enter his flamboyantly gay twin brother Ramón, aka Bunny Wigglesworth, who assumes the mantle of Zorro but he uses a whip instead of a sword and dresses in different, garishly-colored Zorro costumes. This is very similar, in effect, to Rainbow Batman.
If Joker's Bruce Wayne grows up to be Batman, in part because he's inspired by seeing Zorro The Gay Blade on the night his parents were murdered, it's also possible he might later assume the identity of Rainbow Batman after he recalls how Bunny Wigglesworth changed the colors of Zorro's costume. This would, of course, entail a great many things happening in the future of Joker's universe: Bruce would not only have to become Batman as an adult, but he would later have to take on young Dick Grayson as his sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder. However, even though Joker is set apart and doesn't connect to Ben Affleck's Batman in Batman V Superman (who had a Robin killed by the Joker) or Robert Pattinson in The Batman (for now, at least), it's logical to assume Batman's future in Joker's universe unfolds similarly to other Batman continuities, like the Dark Knight of the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher films did.
Rainbow Batman is a strange footnote in the Dark Knight's history but it has curious parallels to Zorro The Gay Blade: In Detective Comics #241 (1957), Dick Grayson's arm is injured while he saves a young girl. Soon after, Bruce Wayne inexplicably changes the colors of Batman's costume, wearing a different, brightly colored Batsuit every night before finally donning a uniform made up of all of the colors of the rainbow at once. It was a totally absurd scheme by Batman but there was a method to his madness.
The reason Batman did this turned out to be a simple distraction; knowing that Dick's injury was publicly known, Bruce worried that criminals would notice that Robin had an identical arm injury and would deduce that Dick Grayson was Robin. Therefore, Batman wore ridiculous colors to keep the attention away from Robin and keep his secret identity safe. In Zorro The Gay Blade, Bunny changing Zorro's signature black look also successfully confused the Vega brothers' enemies and both stories are meant to be wacky comedies.
Despite being retconned by Crisis On Infinite Earths in 1985, Rainbow Batman still endures: the tale was referenced in 2016's Trinity comic, where Batman vehemently denied ever wearing multicolored costumes, and Rainbow Batman also popped up in the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Whether this was intentional or not by Todd Phillips, changing Batman's origin by establishing Zorro The Gay Blade as the Zorro movie Joker's Bruce Wayne watched could set the orphaned child on the path to not just becoming Batman, but also the Rainbow Batman later in his future.
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
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- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
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