Warning: The following contains spoilers for “The Batman”.
When “The Batman” hit theaters, fans and critics alike praised co-writer and director Matt Reeves’ new take on Caped Crusader, but one scene in particular was the subject of much post-release discussion. We’re talking, of course, about the scene at the end of the film in which Paul Dano’s The Riddler is revealed to be sharing a cell at Arkham Asylum with someone credited as “Unseen Arkham Prisoner” who has a very distinctive laugh.
Yes indeed, Reeves has since confirmed that this character – played by actor Barry Keoghan – will eventually become Batman’s iconic villain, the Joker, but is not yet fully formed. In fact, there was an earlier scene between Robert Pattinson’s Batman and the prisoner of Keoghan in the film that was cut, in which Batman went to see this prisoner as a kind of Hannibal Lecter to consult him on his investigation of the crimes of the Riddler.
While this previous scene was cut, the other scene remains – although for a time this other scene was also deleted from the film. Reeves reveals on the director’s commentary for “The Batman” (currently available as an Apple exclusive) why he decided to keep that Joker scene in the film.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘Is this an edit for another movie?’ and to be honest, it really isn’t,” Reeves says on the commentary track. “For me, it was a follow-up because Paul and The Riddler were in on the third-act action in a way very special, and the last time we saw him he was saying ‘Boom!’ in his window as the bombs went off, and we hadn’t yet seen him figure out that batman had been able to pull things from the brink and his plan hadn’t worked out, i really wanted to see the ending of this arc for Riddler.
When Reeves played the film without this scene, the film was missing an ending to The Riddler’s story arc. “By not having this scene, not only did you not get to see what I think was a fantastic performance by both actors, Barry and Paul here and when Paul starts laughing after Barry I find it so delicious , and it was a big change in texture and a change in tone from what is kind of a painful ending for the movie. But it also changed the stakes for the final scene. When Selina says to [Batman], “You know this place will never change”, and he says “I have to try”, this idea that trouble is already brewing again. It is in this moment of power vacuum that people are already intriguing. When you released that scene, it didn’t have that kind of resonance and the idea that he could go with her seemed more reasonable and you thought, well, why does he stay?
Reeves was quick to add that this scene between The Riddler and a pre-Joker Joker wasn’t meant as an easter egg and was meant to further the need for Batman in Gotham City. “So that was pivotal, actually, to the end of the movie and finishing the Riddler arc as well. What we do with these characters in the future remains to be seen, but it was never meant to be. to be an easter egg scene, to say, “Oh, guess who we’re going to use in the next movie. It was supposed to be something delightful for the audience to experience meeting these two characters, and actually for the invisible prisoner to tell him, ‘Riddle tells me,’ which of course comes from ‘Batman ’66.”
Warner Bros. hasn’t officially announced a sequel to “The Batman” yet, but with the movie grossing $750 million worldwide, it seems likely that Reeves and Pattinson’s time in Gotham City is far from over. It’s unclear which Rogues Gallery villain will appear next, but Barry Keoghan’s character clearly has a journey ahead of him that would be fun to watch on screen.