Full spoilers ahead for The Batman!
Is the Joker in The Batman 2022?
The Batman director Matt Reeves recently agreed to talk in detail with IGN about his film’s biggest spoiler: the introduction of this new Bat-universe’s Joker, here by Eternals actor Barry Keoghan. Although Keoghan is officially credited as “Unnamed Arkham Prisoner,” Reeves confirmed to IGN that this character is indeed a proto-Joker. The Batman may not be an origin story for the title character, but it is for the Dark Knight’s most infamous villains.
As revealed in the penultimate scene of The Batman, this “Unnamed Arkham Prisoner” chats up Paul Dano’s Riddler, aka Edward Nashton, who is held in a cell at Arkham State Hospital (as it appears to be named here as opposed to Asylum) . Through their cell bars, Riddler interacts with this strange fellow inmate, who is framed largely in shadow but whose rictus grin and green-tinged hair are discernible.
The unnamed prisoner tries to cheer up Riddler, who is despondent over Batman (largely) foiling his plans. “One day you’re on top, the next day you’re a clown,” the prisoner says before telling Riddler that Gotham loves a comeback story. The prisoner then delivers what is the Riddler’s signature line – “Riddle me this” – when asking a riddle whose answer Nashton correctly answers as “a friend.” This dastardly duo cackle away as a bond is forged between them.
In what was a clear attempt to throw off the Internet — that is until Keoghan’s own brother revealed it on social media — initial news reports and leaked set photos pegged Keoghan as playing GCPD officer Stanley Merkel. He’s not, although Matt Reeves confirmed in another interview with IGN that they did indeed shoot fake scenes with Keoghan as the character just to throw people off the Clown Prince’s scent.
The Batman Deleted Scene
Reeves told us Keoghan actually filmed two scenes as this proto-Joker but the filmmaker ended up cutting the earlier scene. In our interview, Reeves detailed what that deleted scene was about and elaborated on the inspiration behind his Joker’s look.
“What’s interesting is that the reason that Joker’s in the movie is there was actually another scene that was earlier. And because the movie is not an origin tale for Batman, but it’s his early days, it really is an origin tale for the Rogue’s Gallery’s characters,” Reeves said. “And for me, I think [it’s] this idea that the Joker is not yet the Joker, but they already have this relationship.
“The scene that was not in the movie, the scene that this is really the companion to, which is actually a really cool scene that will release at some point, it’s a scene where Batman is so unnerved because the Riddler is writing to him. And he’s like, ‘Well, why is this guy writing to me?’ And he figures he’s got to profile this killer,” Reeves said, revealing things then took an almost Silence of the Lambs/Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter-like turn. (Or, as DC Comics fans might point out, it’s reminiscent of Batman seeking out Calendar Man’s help in The Long Halloween.)
“He goes to see another killer that he’s clearly had an experience with in these first two years. And this killer in this story is not yet the character that we come to know, right?” Reeves said. “So everybody’s in their infancy. So in the comics, these characters often declare their alter egos in response to the fact that there’s a Batman out there. And so here, we have a Joker who’s not yet the Joker.”
Joker Movie Influences