DC made the right choice in keeping Joker as far away from Future State as humanly possible. With the event wrapping up, fans probably have noticed a rather stunning absence of one of comics’ most iconic villains. Such a pivotal character would undoubtedly make some sort of impact on Gotham after the present day, so he’d have to show up in a two-month-long event about the future, right? After all, it wouldn’t be DC Comics without the Jester of Genocide causing some semblance of mayhem and destruction. But adding him to such a timeline about the future, regardless how awesome it would be, would go against the very essence of what makes this enigmatic monster so intriguing and mysterious.
Leading up to Future State, one of Joker’s most prominent recent roles took place in the polarizing Batman: Three Jokers series, which continued where the critically acclaimed Batman: The Killing Joke left off. Interestingly, the Clown Prince of Crime actually shared the spotlight with two other Jokers who each had a very different philosophical outlook on what their latest endeavor involving the jokerization of different people represented. He was a main player in the Joker War story, after which he went on the run. But he then later appeared during the Death Metal crossover event, where he actually fought alongside the multiverse’s last heroes in their stand against The One Who Laughs.
While Joker’s role in the Death Metal series is relatively minor and DC including him seemed more of an Easter Egg than anything else, DC never reveals Joker’s fate. It’s possible, though unlikely, that he died. But if he survived, then he needed to be missing from Future State. That’s because Joker’s schtick has always been about unpredictability and chaos, and anything he did in the future would make his next moves quite predictable and orderly. Probably the most compelling evidence proving Joker’s unpredictable, chaotic nature is Batman’s perpetual failure of identifying Joker’s reasons for committing crimes despite having fought him for decades. The last time they went head-to-head in Three Jokers, Batman mentions numerous times that the motives of the Jokers are unclear. Then he drops the bomb, “Don’t assume what we’re up against tonight is like anything else we’ve seen before.” The fact that any iteration of Joker can still surprise Batman is indicative of the villain’s whole mysterious persona.
It’s also crucial that Joker remains undefinable and nameless. Just the basic concept behind Three Jokers proves he’s an enigma. Because of Joker’s sporadic nature throughout the ages, writer Geoff Johns decided that there had to be three of him because one person couldn’t possibly possess all of these personalities and methodologies: the Criminal, the Comedian, and the Clown. But even with this information, readers are left with even more questions than they had originally, especially since the only Joker who survives is the most indefinable of the three: the Comedian. As this Joker revealed, the Clown was too common, for he only wanted to see people suffer, and the Criminal was too obsessed with definitions and identities. As for the Comedian? He’s all over the place. It’s impossible to pigeonhole his wants into a specific category.
The only hole in this theory of there having to be a nameless Joker is that Batman reveals he knows his identity in Three Jokers. While true, Bruce Wayne can’t share this information with anyone because it would put Joker’s surviving family at risk. This implies that the Clown Prince of Crime is not only nameless, but will forever remain as such even if he’s identified, for Batman has proven that even those who learn of his identity are unable to share this knowledge due to a higher power beyond their control (i.e. chaos).
And therein lies the reason why it’s a good thing that Joker never appeared in Future State. His inclusion would have put him in a set time and place where he’s destined to be and act a certain way. This would have stripped Joker of everything that he represents (or maybe it should be what he doesn’t represent?). Joker isn’t supposed to be anywhere at anytime. He is chaos. He is the antithesis of a preordained future. It should be literally impossible for him to even appear anywhere except when and where chaos takes him.