The Batman Director Filmed Fake Scenes for Surprise Character Reveal

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Warning: this story contains spoilers for The Batman, now playing exclusively in theaters. The Batman director Matt Reeves confirms he filmed fake scenes with Barry Keoghan to avoid spoiling the actor’s surprise cameo as the Joker. After set photos showed Keoghan in uniform as a Gotham City cop, Warner Bros. announced Keoghan’s role as GCPD Officer Stanley Merkel, a lesser-known character from the DC comic books. It’s not until the final moments of The Batman that Keoghan, who is officially credited as “Unseen Arkham Prisoner,” makes a shadowy cameo as an early version of the Joker.

Speaking to IGN, Reeves says he filmed fake scenes with Keoghan’s “Officer Merkel” to conceal the Joker’s reveal.

“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,” Reeves explained. “So we started thinking what we could do to throw people off that scent. This idea of making [Keoghan] 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.”

Keoghan filmed at least two scenes as Reeves’ “proto-Joker,” one of which ended up on the cutting room floor. In the deleted scene expected to be available on the film’s home release, Batman (Robert Pattison) visits the “Unseen Arkham Prisoner” to assist with his criminal profile of 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 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.”

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Starring Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Andy Serkis, and Colin Farrell, The Batman is now playing exclusively in theaters.

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