Warning: This article contains some spoilers for The Batman which just released this weekend. Don’t venture further if you don’t want some plot points given away.
By the end of The Batman, it’s pretty clear that while we’ve more firmly established critical characters in this new universe of films, Gotham City isn’t necessarily better off than when we started. In fact, things look like they are about to get a whole lot worse before there are any real tangible improvements. Robert Pattinson’s Batman understands as much, admitting that there is plenty of work still to be done. One of the reasons is that the core group of villains around the Caped Crusader might only be primed to unleash more problems for the city. And it looks like we were supposed to have seen one of those guys even earlier in the movie, but director Matt Reeves opted to delete the scene instead.
In interviews with both IGN and Collider (via ScreenRant) Matt Reeves discussed cutting out a scene from The Batman which would have had Pattinson’s Batman going to Arkham Asylum to interview another inmate there. This was all part of his detective work in tracking down and understanding The Riddler during the latter’s crime spree. Batman was set to meet with Barry Keoghan’s anonymous inmate character who we now understand is going to be the Joker. This interrogation was an effort to get into the mind of a madman. Reeves ended up taking the scene out, though he seems to really want audiences to eventually see it. Check out what he had to say:
“He 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 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..”
We never do get this one-on-one scene with Batman and Joker because Reeves didn’t think it fit into what was happening enough to include it. It makes sense. Heck, at three hours The Batman had plenty of meat on the bone anyway. But it is an interesting thing to hold back, especially considering just how invested the movie is with the other prominent villains in Gotham City. It takes almost no time at all to get The Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman, and Carmine Falcone up on the big screen. It wouldn’t have seemed like a huge lift to get the Clown Prince of Crime wedged in there as well, especially if it made sense for the story.
Credit to Matt Reeves for a couple of things here. First off, The Batman tells a comic book story that is pretty different than a lot of what else is out there. Not an origin story, it drops us into the mix during the Caped Crusader’s second year on the vigilante beat. So he’s already had run-ins with some of these villains who are clearly working on their own “identities”. And secondly, because we enter an established world, though one that’s not fully fleshed out as a full Batman universe yet, there is a chance to see all of these folks “grow” into what they are going to become later. The Joker is obviously included in that group.
It’s not totally clear if Barry Keoghan’s Joker will become this character fully in The Batman 2 or if he’ll be the primary villain in the film. The way things are set up, it wouldn’t seem like this franchise will follow the one antagonist model of other movies. Instead, Gotham City is a complete place, full of all sorts of bad folks operating with their own agendas. We are sure to see more of that going forward with The Joker likely part of the overall collective.