This article contains THE BATMAN spoilers. We have a spoiler-free review here.
The Batman has given fans plenty to talk about. But the most pressing topic of conversation may very well be Barry Keoghan’s character, billed in the credits as “Unnamed Arkham Inmate.” Shown only in a brief scene in Arkham Asylum, Keoghan’s character forges a bond with the Riddler (Paul Dano), suggesting that the two of them could be friends. And if there was any doubt about who this prisoner could be, all questions were drowned out by the sound of his blood-curling laugh. It was the Joker, returning again to be the anarchic mirror to double Batman’s shadowy search for justice.
The scene only became more of a tease when The Batman director Matt Reeves indicated that a potential sequel would not necessarily focus on the Joker, leaving fans fearing that they wouldn’t get to see more of Keoghan’s take on the Clown Prince of Crime. But thanks to a new Riddler ARG, a deleted scene featuring the Joker and Batman has found its way onto the internet. Those who followed the movie’s post-cred scene to visit the site rataalada.com have been participating in a game, the results of which include this tantalizing scene.
Drawing more from Michael Mann’s Manhunter than from the David Fincher films that inspired most of The Batman, Reeves gives us a scene in which Batman (Robert Pattinson) visits the Joker in a cell, seeking help on catching the Riddler. The Joker does his best Hannibal Lecter, not only psychoanalyzing the Riddler (“He’s a nobody, who wants to be a somebody”), but also deconstructing Batman himself. “You afraid [the Riddler] makes you look soft,” he taunts, punctuated by Keoghan’s breathless take on the villain’s signature cackle.
Throughout the scene, Reeves and cinematographer Greig Fraser resist showing too much of the Joker. We get disconnected glimpses of his hands and the back of his head, a close-up on his eyes and mouth, his full face revealed only in out-of-focus pov shots or reflections on the glass in his cell. But from what we do see, Reeves and Keoghan have constructed a far more twisted version of the Joker than any we have seen before. Scars and burns cover the body of this Joker, leaving his head spotted by patches of green hair, instead of the thick emerald mane we’ve seen before. Instead of the face-paint grin or even scarred smirk worn by Heath Ledger, this Joker’s face seems to droop into something recalling a smile.
These limited shots don’t give us much more of Keoghan’s Joker look. Bound in a straight-jacket and prison garb, there’s no sign of a purple suit anywhere. Nor does the actor get to bring much body language, other than the way he shakes when lets loose with a menacing giggle.
But the scene leaves viewers with a much bigger question: what happened to this Joker? And what does Batman have to do with it? Early in their conversation, Joker mentions his “anniversary” with Batman. Could that be the day Joker became so horrifically mangled? While we’re certain to get a sequel to The Batman, Reeves may not yet be ready to tell that story. We’ll have to rely on breadcrumbs such as this in the meantime.