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Matt Reeves says Joker originally had a substantial role in The Batman and drops details on who he is in that world

March 7th, 2022 by Marc Comments

Beware, this article inescapably will contain spoilers for The Batman. You have been warned.

Ok, so, Matt Reeve’s The Batman is finally here and, well, it’s pretty damned good and, while many will argue over Affleck Bale, Keaton or Pattinson – why bother, they’re all great – we’re just reflecting on how good it was here at FTN HQ and how much it exploded the world of Gotham City (in more ways than one).

One of the biggest reveals came a few minutes from the end of the movie when we meet another major character from Batman’s universe in a movie already full of great characters.

Yes, we meet Joker, tucked away in Arkham Asylum and already starting to manipulate his cellmate, The Riddler.

Yes, Irish actor, and star of The Eternals, Barry Keoghan did indeed play the Harlequin of Hate in a brief but electrifying cameo (here) – meaning that both Penguin and Joker are Irish men in this version of Gotham City. Noice.

In a new interview, Reeves explains that, since this Batman/Bruce Wayne is already two years into his crusade to save Gotham, he has already found his feet and might actually be inspiring/creating his rogues’ gallery to come to Gotham to meet The Batman.

After all, in this movie alone we have Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman and Joker… the ball is already rolling.

But, unlike other DC movies or the MCU’s adventures, this isn’t a set-up for future movies: “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,” Reeves says.

“I never was trying to say like, ‘Hey, guess what, here’s the Joker. Next movie!’ The idea was more to say, ‘Hey, look, if you think that trouble is going to go away in Gotham, you can forget it. It’s already here. And it’s already delicious.'”

Indeed, the movie sneakily hints at what comes next with little clues pointing to Bane and Hush, not to mention the story has a very No Man’s Land feel at the end.

However, we will see more of this Joker soon enough as Reeves reveals that there was more of him filmed for the movie and, ultimately, cut. Originally, Joker was set to appear after the death of Commissioner Savage, and Batman goes to see him, Hannibal Lecter style: “I thought he would be really insecure about this and he’d probably want to find some way to get into the [Riddler’s] mindset, like in ‘Manhunter’ or ‘Mindhunter’ — this idea of profiling somebody, so you can predict his next move,” says Reeves.

The scene would see Batman sneaking into Arkham in the dead of night to see Joker, a villain that he previously put away, Reeves explains: “And this guy [Joker] says, ‘It’s almost our anniversary, isn’t it?’.

“You realize that they have a relationship, and that this guy obviously did something, and Batman somehow got him into Arkham.”

Reeves explains that the scene would have Joker get into Batman’s head, saying he and Ridder think the same – an idea explored elsewhere in the movie – an idea that repulses Batman: “That’s what that scene was,” says Reeve, “It was a scene to unsettle him.”

As for us seeing it, well, Reeve has some fun news on that front: “It’s a really creepy, cool scene, That was the scene that was meant to introduce this guy and just to tease the audience to go like, ‘Oh my god, he’s here too? And he’s not yet the Joker — what’s this going to be?’ And then it seems so delicious in the story, since we’d already set him up, to have the end of the story, the completion of the Riddler arc, be that he was in a cell next to this guy.”

I like the idea, personally, that Riddler and Joker aren’t fully firmed yet and perhaps their meeting will help them both become the iconic villains we know them to be… perhaps when we see Riddler again, he’ll be more in line with the comic character than the Zodiac killer he is here; sorry, it was the one aspect I didn’t like.

Reeves says he had cut Joker altogether at one stage but screenings didn’t react as well as they did when he appeared… even just briefly: “I initially tested it without it; when I put it back in, the scores for the ending went back up.

“And I think it wasn’t just that people enjoyed seeing that character. It changed people’s response to the very ending of the movie, to see that Gotham was still Gotham, and that Batman really didn’t have a choice. He has to keep doing what he’s gonna do.”

Joker, in the scene that survived and the one removed, was filmed in shadow, obscured, but he’s still sporting Joker’s grin, white face and green hair with Reeve and prosthetic makeup artist Michael Marino working on his appearance despite being out of focus: “I said, ‘The shape of his hair, the shape of his mouth, it’s all going to read, but it’s going to be soft. So he knew that was the canvas he had to deal with,” Reeve says of Marino’s work.

With Joker already existing in two forms in current cinema with Jared Leto and Joaquin Phoenix both being synonymous with the role – not to mention Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger’s versions both being in our memories – Reeve went back to the character’s origins for his overall look, citing Conrad Veidt’s performance in the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs, left, as the inspiration for this new Joker.

Reeves has already done his homework on where this Joker’s look comes from, saying: “He has a congenital disease where he can’t stop smiling and it’s horrific.” This Joker has an unshakable rictus grin.

Reeve wanted it to be clear, even from the couple of minutes he appears, that this Joker is shrewd, and is psychologically manipulative – he’s clearly playing Riddler in the movie, by pretending to be his friend.

Shaking off previous origins for the character Reeve wanted to go his own road with Joker which is fine as the character’s origins are never definitive when we learn them: “What if this guy from birth had this disease and he was cursed? He had this smile that people stared at that was grotesque and terrifying. Even as a child, people looked at him with horror, and his response was to say, ‘Okay, so a joke was played on me,’ and this was his nihilistic take on the world.”

Keoghan was linked to the movie early on and was reportedly playing a cop in the GCPD (here), a deliberate move by Reeve and WB who didn’t want to reveal or even hint at who he was playing: “I didn’t want to create all this speculation that we were doing the Joker by naming what he was, so we thought, well, let’s make him be a cop, and then people won’t really think too hard about it,” he says.

Reeves has said that, while he’d be interested in exploring Arkham and perhaps Joker over on HBO Max, he’s not planning on Joker making a big screen appearance in this world anytime soon as there’s been so many iconic performances of the character that it would have to be very fresh and different: “We made a really concerted effort to make this different from the other ‘Batman’ movies, because we needed to. It’s something to think about with the Joker. It’s been done well, a number of times.”

As for Keoghan, well, Reeve says he made it clear it may be a one-and-done deal: “I said to Barry, right from the beginning, ‘Look, I don’t know where this is going to go. I can’t promise that it’ll even ever come back. I don’t know.’ And I still feel that way now. I’m not sure exactly.”

Not for a second do I believe we won’t see this Joker again, I believe that this being the first in a planned trilogy of movies as well as the GCPD and Penguin series over on HBO Max, this is a new Gotham that will be explored and fully populated very soon… and if Joker isn’t there, it’s not going to feel right at all.

What say you all? Did you like this Joker tease? Are you excited for another version of the character? Let me know, guys,

Source: Variety

Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….