Why so scarred? That's the question mark surrounding the Unseen Arkham Prisoner (Barry Keoghan) hidden in shadow, only to be revealed as a proto-Joker when he has the last laugh with the Riddler (Paul Dano) in the final moments of The Batman. Director Matt Reeves has since released a five-minute deleted scene showing the Dark Knight detective (Robert Pattinson) interrogating Joker to profile the Riddler, a serial killer hellbent on unmasking the truth about the corrupt Gotham City. Though never fully revealed — the Arkham inmate with dyed green hair is mostly out of focus or obscured by camera angles — the deleted scene gives glimpses at Reeves' re-imagined Joker designed by Keoghan and makeup artist Michael Marino.
The look has drawn comparisons to the Death of the Family arc where the Joker's face is cut off and reattached, further disfiguring the criminal clown left with green hair, bleached white skin, and a permanent rictus grin after falling into a vat of acidic chemicals.
Reeves revealed the inspiration for his "Joker who's not yet the Joker": a homage to the mutilated mouth of Conrad Veidt's Gwynplaine in The Man Who Laughs, the 1928 silent film that influenced the DC Comics character.
"He's held in this very suspenseful way, away from you visually. But I wanted to create an iteration of him that felt distinctive and new, but went right back to the roots," Reeves previously told IGN. "So he's very much out of the Conrad Veidt mold and that idea of the silent film of The Man Who Laughs."
"He can never stop smiling. And it made Mike [Marino] 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," Reeves explained. "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.'"
Describing Keoghan's nameless character as "a pre-Joker Joker," the future clown prince of crime's origin is rooted in a nihilistic point of view as a result of his appearance.
"Life has been a cruel joke on him," Reeves said. "And this is his response, and he's eventually going to declare himself as a clown, declare himself as the Joker. That was the idea."
The Batman is now playing exclusively in movie theaters.