A cameo in The Batman and a released deleted scene set up Barry Keoghan as the next Joker, but that’s not who he was yet playing in those scenes.
Barry Keoghan’s cameo in The Batman was not him playing the Joker – at least, not yet. Keoghan is credited simply as “Unseen Arkham Prisoner” in The Batman, with his identity in the film being shrouded behind bars and shadows as he speaks through his cell door to the Riddler. In late March 2022, a released deleted scene from The Batman shows a more fleshed-out conversation between Keoghan and Robert Pattinson’s Batman. While still shrouding Keoghan in secrecy, the scene reveals scars, acid-bleached skin, patches of green hair, and possible red lipstick smudges. As hidden as his profile is, his blurred appearance and his dichotomy with Batman in the deleted scene still heavily imply that he’ll be the next Clown Prince of Crime.
Keoghan teases his Joker arc in a GQ interview, stating that he’d love to reprise his role as the Joker despite the risk of being typecast. He states that it would be “amazing” to “bring him to life…and give you [his] version, which you’ve not seen.” Even though neither the movie nor deleted scene officially name Keoghan as the Joker, Keoghan doesn’t disprove any speculation that he will be playing the role in the Matt Reeves Batman series. What his interview does interestingly inform, however, is that his Joker could change significantly from what has been shown in the movie and deleted scene.
The Batman 2 Can Completely Change Keoghan’s Joker
All mentions of the new Joker have been veiled hints and implications, giving The Batman 2 a lot of freedom to strengthen the character further. While this does pose a risk to making Batman’s villains more interesting than Batman himself, which is a Batman problem both Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale mention, having a strong, distinct interpretation of the Joker is necessary. Especially after Jared Leto’s infamous Joker performance in Suicide Squad, Keoghan has a lot to prove.
It’s a worthy criticism to note that Keoghan’s Joker was introduced a little less than three years after Joaquin Phoenix’s iteration of the character, making the role reprisal feel almost unnecessary. With that said, The Batman is wisely a tonally distinct movie that has allowed it to create a more interesting interpretation of its main villain, the Riddler. Seeing how the Riddler is created, The Batman sets its series up to create an intriguing Joker that will avoid feeling rehashed and obligatory to the franchise.
Why Keoghan’s Joker Transformation Is So Exciting
As Keoghan’s interview comments suggest, his character in The Batman is either the character before he fully becomes the Joker or a Matt Reeves-series Joker still in the infancy stages of planning. That said, even looking at Barry Keoghan’s quietly-executed Joker rule to humanize the character by keeping his natural blue eyes, there are positive signs that Keoghan’s iteration will transform the character in a way that still honors the Joker’s core. The fact that his hints of a Joker are so captivating spells great news for how fantastic his character could become. If The Batman‘s deleted scene is any indication, Keoghan’s pre-Joker performance shows that his fully-realized version will be well-written, well-crafted, and just deep enough as a character to stray away from making the Joker a cartoonish parody of himself.
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