The Batman: Why Matt Reeves Should Have Kept In Barry Keoghan's Deleted Joker Scene

Barry Keoghan as The Joker in The Batman deleted scene
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Warning: SPOILERS for The Batman are in play! If you don’t want anything ruined from the latest DC Comics film, please head out and enjoy some twist-free coverage at CinemaBlend.

For some time now, fans of co-writer/director Matt Reeves’ The Batman knew that a pretty hotly anticipated scene was already waiting to be released to the world. In interviews promoting the film, Reeves had admitted that a scene with Barry Keoghan’s Joker was deleted from the finished product, but he promised that we'd eventually get to see it. That day came not too long ago, and after seeing the removed exchange between Keoghan and Robert Pattinson’s Batman, I absolutely think they should have kept this scene in the film. 

Before I dive too deeply into my feelings on the matter, this is going to be a full-on dive into The Batman’s story. Spoilers are part of this game, and it’s no laughing matter if you’re trying to avoid such details. One last thing: feel free to watch “Arkham,” the deleted scene released from The Batman, included below.

With the usual warning out of the way, and the required viewing specified, it’s now time to step back into Arkham State Hospital. Let’s talk about why The Joker’s deleted scene should have been kept in Warner Bros’ The Batman

Paul Dano's Riddler peeling back duct tape in The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

It Contains Clever Clues To The Batman’s Riddler Mystery

The Batman weaves the mystery of The Riddler (Paul Dano) rather perfectly throughout the film. Telling the story of “a nobody [who] wants to be somebody,” our proto-Joker lays out some pretty sly clues signaling the gigantic reveal that happens when Batman and Edward Nashton have their own heart to heart. Taunting him with a vague picture of what will eventually be revealed, it’s another delicious appetizer to the overall main course. 

Its simplicity is all the more beautiful when you break down everything Batman/Bruce Wayne is told in this Silence of the Lambs-style consultation. Everything leading to the reveal of Riddler's true identity is laid out in stark detail, playing even better after having the rest of The Batman’s puzzling ending in play. The ambiguity of whether or not The Riddler is a fan or sees Batman as part of the problem amps up the energy from the moment where we realize that this supposedly insane prisoner was cluing us into all the right implications.  

Robert Pattinson in The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

More Of Robert Pattinson’s Batman Backstory Is Alluded To

Pursuing the story of “Year Two,” The Batman positioned itself in a really exciting place to re-introduce The Joker. Launching the audience into Bruce Wayne’s pet project of justice without the usual origin story lends a new and exciting texture to Matt Reeves and co-writer Peter Craig’s portrait of Gotham. That aspect shines brighter than ever in the dialogue that sees the man who’s not quite The Joker just yet musing about how it’s almost the first anniversary; once again teasing the audience with what they want to see more of.

The vagueness of The Batman’s past bodes well for telling its story in the future. So naturally, that’s probably a huge reason why that scene was cut, besides the near three-hour runtime of the finished film. Even with those factors in mind, the restoration of this scene wouldn’t ruin either the pacing, or the thematic ambiguity that our latest trip to Gotham revels in. It would even highlight this future Joker’s origin story as probably the most grounded ever presented on screen.

Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne in Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

This Deleted Scene Fleshes Out The Batman Universe’s Joker

It’s easy to fall back on the usual trope of Batman and The Joker being sworn enemies, with the Clown Prince of Crime pushing the Caped Crusader to his breaking point. That’s not where we see The Batman’s variation of the character, as he’s not fully formed. Instead, we see that antagonistic relationship brewing, with a solid foundation built for whatever the future may hold. Better still, rather than just leaving the audience with the vague, but fantastic tease the theatrical cut contains, this comparatively lengthier introduction gives everyone a little more to chew on.

Showing us our first glimpse of the “Unnamed Arkham Prisoner” wasn’t meant to be a post-credits style stinger, but it still carries a bit of that energy with it. With the extra context in The Batman’s deleted scene, the fateful meeting with The Riddler and our prisoner carries some extra weight. It’s no longer just a tease, it’s a shadow of the villainous future to come.  

Barry Keoghan's Unseen Arkham Prisoner up close in The Batman.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Barry Keoghan’s Joker Performance Shines Even More Here

Every Joker in the Batman cinematic canon has their own style and panache they call their own. Jack Nicholson mixed menace with Looney Tunes-style glee, Heath Ledger introduced a little anarchy to the system, and Joaquin Phoenix straddled the line of sympathy and apathy in his Academy Award winning performance. The Batman’s “pre-Joker Joker” is more of a Hannibal Lecter type, with a slow methodical performance given by Barry Keoghan in this extended introduction.

Judging by what we got in the final theatrical cut, Keoghan still makes a lasting impression in The Batman, so it’s not like the character is underserved at all. That being said, there’s a lot of attention to pacing and detail in the deleted scene that would have given us more of this nascent nemesis to Bruce Wayne’s altruistic crime fighting. In the limited dose we got, Barry Keoghan is outstanding as our Arkham prisoner; but in the full context of the excised footage, he really gets under your skin. 

Clearly there’s a wide field to play around with in the future of The Batman’s rogues gallery. When we see The Joker eventually rise from the ashes and escape Arkham, it’ll be a beautiful day based on what the official record shows us. Though it’d be even more amazing if this once deleted scene was restored in a future version of this movie, in hopes of really reinforcing the next steps taken in telling The Joker’s story. It’s just too good of a set of circumstances to leave on the cutting room floor.

If you read through this entire rundown without even seeing the movie, don’t worry. The Batman is still playing at a theater near you, along with other offerings from this year’s still-blooming film market. To take a look at everything headed our way in 2022, our schedule of upcoming movies will be more than helpful in charting your course to the future. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

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