Warning: this story contains spoilers for The Batman. Matt Reeves says his "pre-Joker" Joker (Barry Keoghan) will have the last laugh, whether it be on television or The Batman movie sequels. Reeves' rebooted Batverse begins with Joker (credited as "Unseen Arkham Prisoner") already locked away in Arkham Asylum, put there by Batman (Robert Pattinson) before the events of the first movie. As Reeves readies a villain-centric TV spinoff about the psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane, the filmmaker teases what's next for Keoghan's proto-Joker:
Appearing on Den of Geek's DC Standom, Reeves said the Joker's cameo in "at the end of the movie is really more contextual [for the universe], so I can't say whether we would do him, specifically, in the movies or not."
The Joker who makes a shadowy cameo appearance in The Batman is "a pre-Joker Joker, actually," Reeves said.
"What you're seeing is a pre-Joker Joker, actually. We go back to the Conrad Veidt, The Man Who Laughs inspiration, which is a Bob Kane-Bill Finger reference. Obviously, that guy has a congenital disease. He's sort of like Phantom of the Opera, he can't not smile," Reeves explained. "Instead of being like the story of the Elephant Man, where his grotesque outward appearance sort of belied the beautiful inside, this would form his nihilistic worldview and he would have an insidious understanding of human nature. That's kind of where this psychology comes from in who this guy would be."
This proto-Joker would have exhibited that understanding of psychology and human nature in a deleted scene Reeves expects to be available on the home release. In the scene, Batman turns to the future Joker for answers about the Riddler (Paul Dano).
"It's a scene where Batman is so unnerved because the Riddler is writing to him. And he's like, 'Well, why is this guy writing to me?' And he figures he's got to profile this killer," Reeves previously told IGN. "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 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."
Starring Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Andy Serkis, and Colin Farrell, The Batman is now playing exclusively in movie theaters.