The latest promo for the CW crossover "Elseworlds" brings the Arrowverse heroes to Gotham City, and introduces not only Ruby Rose's Batwoman but also Arkham Asylum, the institution at the center of so many Batman stories. However, the TV spot goes even further, with a jailbreak in which an inmate leaps over a balustrade to freedom, an act punctuated by a familiar, maniacal laugh.
Upon closer inspection, the inmate boasts what appears to be green hair and a chalky complexion, although it's difficult to say for sure with the yellow hue cast by the outdoor lights. We're probably expected to conclude this is the Arrowverse's version of The Joker, or at least a sly nod to the Batman villain, and he may very well be. However, it's unlikely.
After all, it's difficult to imagine The CW and Warner Bros. Television would tip their hand in a promo, this far out from "Elseworlds," never mind drop the Clown Prince of Crime into an event that already includes Batwoman, Lois Lane, Superman, alternative realities and body swaps, for starters. Sure, there's a Batwoman TV series in development, and it will no doubt feature more than a few classic Batman foes, but the Joker is a marquee villain who hasn't hasn't been truly introduced on Gotham yet. So, no, it's probably not The Joker.
But what if it's another green-haired DC character with a signature cackle and a connection to Gotham? What if the leaping Arkham inmate in the promo is actually the Creeper?
Created in 1968 by Steve Dikto, the Creeper is former Gotham City talk-show host Jack Ryder, who dons yellow tights and makeup to infiltrate a mobster's masquerade party and rescue a kidnapped scientist. Wounded while pulling off his ambitious plan, Ryder is then saved by the scientist, who injects him with a serum that grants him extraordinary strength and agility, and implants a device that him to activate his garish costume at will.
The Creeper's origin has undergone several changes over the years, beginning with the elimination of the serum, replaced by devices implanted in Ryder's body after he was drugged and attacked by criminals. The unfortunate side effect is that, whenever Ryder becomes the Creeper, the implants recreate the drugs in his body, resulting in his alter ego's often unhinged behavior. Subsequent retcons made him, alternately a half-demon and an agent of chaos, but he's more or less returned to form in DC's Rebirth era.
The Arrowverse's Creeper wouldn't have to adhere to any of those comic book incarnations, of course, freeing him up to be an unhinged villain, or antihero foil, to Ruby Rose's Batwoman. Perhaps not better than The Joker, but certainly far more likely.
"Elseworlds" kicks off Sunday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. ET/PT with The Flash, and continues Monday, Dec. 10, with Arrow and Tuesday, Dec. 11, with Supergirl.