Skip to main content

The Batman Cinematographer Explains Why They Kept That Mystery Character Off Camera

Robert Pattinson as Batman in The Batman
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Warning: spoilers for The Batman are in play. If you haven’t seen the film yet, you’re definitely going to want to retreat to the safety of secret-free coverage on CinemaBlend.

When you’ve got a character like “Unseen Arkham Prisoner” on the cast list for a movie like The Batman, you don’t really expect to see a lot of that person on screen. Though Matt Reeves’ entry into the canon of Batman movies did show off our mysterious visitor in small glimpses, we never get a clear look at this potentially sequel-ready figure. There’s some specific reasoning behind that, which is why cinematographer Greig Fraser took some time to explain just why that villain you think you know wasn’t outright confirmed. 

Speaking with The Wrap, Fraser wouldn’t even speak to the true identity of Barry Keoghan’s Arkham inmate. So, of course, the publication wanted to ask whether or not the shadowy presence is indeed The Joker. Playing his cards to the vest, Greig Fraser addressed that matter as follows: 

I can't comment on who it is, but this Gotham is a bubbling cesspool of crime, isn't it? So giving a little kiss or an introduction of who else may be living in this prison. I mean, what a fantastic opportunity to do that. And again, going back to the adage of you don't want to see too much. You never want to see too much. Sometimes seeing too much can distract from some of the beauty or joy of watching films.

Thinking back to the moment of The Batman where the “Unseen Arkham Prisoner” becomes best friends with Paul Dano’s freshly imprisoned Riddler, it’s amazing that we even saw as much as we did. One would have thought that you’d not only see less of Barry Keoghan’s face on screen, but that it would have been saved for the end credits tease. Both of those molds were broken, and with fantastic results. 

We never clearly see the figure who, according to Matt Reeves, has not yet become The Joker. Obscured by sunlight and very clever lighting, we see facial scarring but not the pure white face of Gotham’s clown prince of crime. It’s a bit annoying, yet it’s the best type of annoyance as it’s not giving the audience everything they want all at once. We don't get to see this Joker because he's not fully formed just yet. (Also, this is a PG-13 movie, and that scarring would have probably pushed the limits of such a rating.)

A sequel to The Batman is a fait accompli at this point, especially when the opening weekend box office took off as well as it did. Like it or not, there’s probably a Joker in the deck just waiting to be played. Whether that happens or not, the way that Matt Reeves and his cinematographer played off this delicious easter egg is enough to spark the debate as to when that character should come into play. More importantly, it’s an example of nodding to the canon of a world like Gotham City without getting too cute about it, using art as the ultimate cover story.

For those of you who haven’t seen The Batman, or just want to revisit Greig Fraser’s absolutely beautiful cinematography, the film is currently in theaters now. If you’re ready for a new theatrical adventure, you can head over to the full rundown of upcoming movies that are heading to the movies in 2022. Though with the recent changes to the DC Comics cinematic schedule, you’ll probably want to catch up on the upcoming DC movies roster and all of its moving pieces.

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.