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Who Plays [SPOILER] in ‘The Batman?’

Plus, director Matt Reeves explains the thinking behind the character’s new look

Warning: Spoilers for “The Batman” follow below.

The new reboot “The Batman” serves as an introduction for Robert Pattinson’s iteration of the Caped Crusader, but the film also introduces a new version of another iconic character: The Joker.

Towards the end of the film, a character officially credited as “Unseen Arkham Prisoner” appears through the shadows, makes reference to clowns and lets out a maniacal laugh. Yes, that’s The Joker – although it’s not The Joker fans know. Not yet.

You’d be forgiven for asking who plays The Joker in that scene, given that the character’s face is kept in the dark. So who plays The Joker? It’s actor Barry Keoghan under the makeup, potentially setting up an appearance in a future film or even an HBO Max spinoff.

Keoghan is probably best known for playing the character Druig in the 2021 Marvel movie “Eternals,” but also may be familiar to those who saw Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” – he played George Mills, a young boy who snuck onto a boat to aid in the WWII evacuation.

Since his breakout role in 2014’s “’71,” the 29-year-old Irish actor has been making waves with smaller roles in films like 2017’s “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” 2018’s “American Animals” or 2021’s “The Green Knight,” in which he played the Scavenger. But if his role as The Joker in “The Batman” is a tease for future appearances, Keoghan is stepping into the spotlight in a big way.

“The Batman” co-writer and director Matt Reeves recently revealed that Keoghan actually had another scene as Joker in the film but it was cut. “There is a scene that I would love the audience to see that I didn’t put in,” Reeves told Collider. “Not because anyone asked me to cut it, but because I didn’t think that within the larger narrative it worked, that it was necessary. But it’s a really cool scene with that same unseen prisoner in Arkham. There was an earlier scene where Batman, because he’s getting these cards and letters from the Riddler, and he’s thinking, ‘why is this guy writing to me? I’m supposed to be anonymous and he’s putting a lens on me. I don’t like that,’ and so he goes to kind of profile this kind of serial killer.”

Reeves continued to describe the scene, revealing that The Joker in “The Batman” is not quite yet The Joker. “And you see him meeting with somebody who is obviously a serial killer himself, who, because it’s not Batman’s origin, but it is the origins of all these other characters, you’re seeing a version of this character who, yes, when you see the unknown prisoner, you’re like, ‘well, gee, I think that’s who that is.’ Well, that is who that is, but he’s not yet that character.”

barry-keoghan
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As for The Joker’s look in “The Batman,” he’s purposefully obscured but Reeves told IGN that the character’s look is due to a congenital disease. “He can never stop smiling. And it made Mike [Marino, prosthetic makeup designer] and I think about — I was talking about ‘The Elephant Man; because I love David Lynch. And I was like, ‘Well, maybe there’s something here where it’s not something where he fell in a vat of chemicals or it’s not the [Christopher] Nolan thing where he has these scars and we don’t know where they came from. What if this is something that he’s been touched by from birth and that he has a congenital disease that refuses to let him stop smiling? And he’s had this very dark reaction to it, and he’s had to spend a life of people looking at him in a certain way and he knows how to get into your head.'”

Warner Bros. has not yet officially greenlit a sequel to “The Batman” even though Pattinson and Reeves have expressed interest in continuing, and it’s also not a given that Keoghan’s The Joker would be a major part of any potential sequel.

But it’s certainly a tantalizing tease, and Keoghan joins a long line of talented performers like Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson and Joaquin Phoenix who have inhabited this iconic DC Comics character.

“The Batman” is now playing exclusively in theaters.

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