[This article contains serious, big-time spoilers for The Batman, including one scene that isn’t in the movie, but which is likely to be released at some point. Consider yourself warned.]
It’s not entirely clear, at this point, what Warner Media’s franchise ambitions for The Batman are. (Although the fact that the movie is already on-track to hit COVID-era box office peaks suggests that they’ll end up starting and stopping at “Yes, please!”) Matt Reeves’ film exists in a weird space in the company’s larger superhero projects, clearly out of step with both the Snyderverse films, as well as billion-dollar Joaquin Phoenix project Joker. (That being said, Reeves is clearly excited to keep playing in the space, if that Penguin spin-off series is any indication.)
Any sequel speculations are only likely to be spurred on by the movie’s penultimate scene, which sees Paul Dano’s Riddler tossed in Arkham Asylum, only to be comforted by an unseen, but giggly, guy in the next cell, clearly voiced (and played in silhouette) by actor Barry Keoghan. Although he was listed in initial casting notes as playing a police officer in the film, fans tweaked pretty fast to the idea that Keoghan might be playing the film’s version of iconic crime clown The Joker, both through a few little hints on social media, and also because, well, who else would you cast Barry Keoghan as in the Batman universe? (Seriously: Go watch The Green Knight again and tell us he’s not playing Medieval Dickhead Joker in all but name.)
Now Reeves has given an interview to Variety this weekend, swearing to high heavens that Keoghan’s not in the movie solely to try to set up a future Batman sequel. “It’s not an Easter egg scene,” Reeves asserts. “It’s not one of those end credits Marvel or DC scenes where it’s going, like, ‘Hey, here’s the next movie!’ In fact, I have no idea when or if we would return to that character in the movies.”
Whether that’s true or not, Reeves also notes that Keoghan actually filmed another scene for the movie—one where he and Robert Pattinson’s Batman have a similarly obscured conversation. Said talk would have happened much earlier in the movie, with Pats-Bats sneaking into Arkham to get a little Silence Of The Lambs time in with the unseen killer, in an effort to get into Riddler’s head. Notably, the scene apparently includes a line from future-Joker that “It’s almost our anniversary,” sketching in a little more backstory for this version of Gotham.
Reeves says he cut the scene because it was deemed unnecessary in a film already three hours long, but notes he’ll probably release it in some form at some point. As to any new Keoghan Joker material, Reeves stresses that it’s an open question. “There might be places. There’s stuff I’m very interested in doing in an Arkham space, potentially for HBO Max. There are things we’ve talked about there. So it’s very possible. It also isn’t impossible, that there is some story that comes back where Joker comes into our world.”