Warning. Spoilers for The Batman follow…
Although the initial casting announcement for The Batman had Barry Keoghan as portraying Gotham City Police Officer Stanley Merkel, that ultimately proved to be nothing more than a smokescreen and – as had been rumoured for the past few months – the Eternals star was instead revealed as the newest incarnation of Batman’s arch-nemesis The Joker.
Speaking to IGN following the film’s release this past week, director Matt Reeves has spoken about Keoghan’s cameo appearance as the Clown Prince of Crime and the measures that the production employed to keep the character a secret, including faked set photos featuring Keoghan in a GCPD uniform.
“When you’re making a movie like this, you want it to be different, you want people to feel like they’re having a special experience,” said Reeves. “And then for me, when you’re going to the cinema you want some level of surprise. I think one of the things I was worried about was speculation while we were making the movie, that we would be exploring the character that we ended up exploring. So we started thinking what we could do to throw people off that scent. This idea of making him Stanley Merkel was exactly that, because the police force is actually a big part of the story so it seemed credible that we could be doing that.”
Reeves also went on to reveal that Keoghan originally shot another scene as The Joker – one which saw him coming face-to-face with Robert Pattinson’s Dark Knight: “[Batman] goes to see another killer that he’s clearly had an experience with in these first two years. And this killer in this story is not yet the character that we come to know, right? So everybody’s in their infancy. So in the comics, these characters often declare their alter egos in response to the fact that there’s a Batman out there. And so here, we have a Joker who’s not yet the Joker.”
Keoghan’s cameo in The Batman firmly sets up The Joker for a future appearance, and while Reeves has suggested to Variety that we could potentially see the villain involved with the planned Arkham Asylum spinoff series for HBO Max, he also stressed that the character’s future is far from certain at this point.
“There’s stuff I’m very interested in doing in an Arkham space, potentially for HBO Max. There are things we’ve talked about there. So it’s very possible. It also isn’t impossible, that there is some story that comes back where Joker comes into our world… It’s something to think about with the Joker. It’s been done well, a number of times. 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.”
Are you excited about seeing Barry Keoghan’s take on The Joker, or have we seen enough of the Clown Prince of Crime lately? Let us know your thoughts on our social channels @FlickeringMyth…
Two years of stalking the streets as the Batman (Robert Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City. With only a few trusted allies—Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright)—amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens.
When a killer targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle/aka Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), Oswald Cobblepot/aka the Penguin (Colin Farrell), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and Edward Nashton/aka the Riddler (Paul Dano). As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.
The Batman sees Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse) donning the cape and cowl as Bruce Wayne/Batman alongside Zoe Kravitz (Big Little Lies) as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Colin Farrell (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin, Paul Dano (Escape at Dannemora) as Edward Nashton/The Riddler, Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) as Jim Gordon, Andy Serkis (War for the Planet of the Apes) as Alfred Pennyworth, John Turturro (The Big Lebowski) as Carmine Falcone, Alex Ferns (Chernobyl) as Commissioner Pete Savage, Con O’Neill (Ordinary Lies) as Chief Mackenzie Bock, Peter Sarsgaard (The Killing) as Gotham D.A. Gil Colson and Jayme Lawson (Farewell Amor) as Bella Real.
The Batman is playing in cinemas everywhere now.