Now that The Batman has officially taken the world by storm, I feel I can safely reveal that a special guest makes a cameo near the end: after Batman has put away the Riddler (Paul Dano), we get a brief scene of the puzzle-obsessed supervillain chilling in his cell in Arkham Asylum. And who should be in the next cell over giving him a creepy pep talk but the Joker, played by Eternals star Barry Keoghan?
Of course, the movie doesn’t call him the Joker, but Batman fans recognize the signs: the laughter, the references to clowns, etc. It’s not subtle. And actually, Keoghan’s Joker had a whole other scene in the movie, this one shared with Robert Pattinson’s Batman.
Director Matt Reeves ultimately decided to cut this scene, but he really liked it and always intended to share it. And now he’s made good. Watch Batman visit the Joker in Arkham below:
Why did The Batman cut this Joker scene?
As Reeves acknowledges in an interview with Variety, this scenes gives definitely Manhunter/Silence of the Lambs vibes, with Batman going to this deranged criminal to get his perspective on a different deranged criminal. And Joker hits on a lot of points that pay off down the line, including that the Riddler and Batman think alike, and that the Riddler’s quest for vengeance mirror’s Batman’s own a little too closely for comfort.
Ultimately, that’s why Reeves decided to cut the scene: it hit beats he was hitting elsewhere in the movie. “It wasn’t necessary,” he says. “It was one of those scenes where, given how complex the narrative was, by taking it out, it kept the story moving in a way it needed to.”
He thought about cutting the final scene between Joker and Riddler as well, but left that one in, perhaps as a taste of what’s to come.
Do you wanna know how the Joker got those scars?
There have been a lot of depictions of the Joker over the years, nearly as many as there have been of Batman. It’s difficult to get him to stand out. Physically, this Joker seems almost deformed. We get a few shots of his ragged skin, pockmarked lips, and patchy hair; it almost looks like he survived a horrible fire, or maybe got a lobotomy. Perhaps both?
We never got a clear look at the Joker in the movie, but Reeves was definitely thinking about the look, and how it might motivate the character. “He has a congenital disease where he can’t stop smiling and it’s horrific,” he told Variety in another interview.
It’s not about some version where he falls into a vat of chemicals and his face is distorted, or what [Christopher] Nolan did, where there’s some mystery to how he got these scars carved into his face. What if this guy from birth had this disease and he was cursed? He had this smile that people stared at that was grotesque and terrifying. Even as a child, people looked at him with horror, and his response was to say, ‘Okay, so a joke was played on me,’ and this was his nihilistic take on the world.
Will Barry Keoghan return as the Joker?
The final question is whether we’ll see Barry Keoghan’s take on the Joker again in a future movie, or maybe in an HBO Max spinoff show; we know they’re making one about Arkham Asylum.
While Reeves isn’t committing to anything, I’d say the likelihood of Keoghan’s Joker showing up again is around 100%. The movie set him up and has taken in over $600 million worldwide; it’s all but inevitable now.
That said, there’s been no official announcement yet. The next The Batman thing will be an HBO Max series about Colin Farrell’s Penguin…but c’mon, we all know that sequel is coming sooner or later.