[This article obviously has major spoilers for The Batman. Proceed at your own risk.] Most of the world has seen The Batman if the box office numbers are any indication, so most of the world knows that a certain character appears near the end of the film, talking to the Riddler as they’re both locked away in Arkham Asylum. While never explicitly named, it is pretty obvious that the Joker is the one speaking to the Riddler. If you were holding out some hope that it was someone else other than the Joker, a new deleted scene for The Batman put out by Warner Bros. basically seals the deal.
The deleted scene with the Joker is a whopping five minutes long, meaning that if it had been included, The Batman would have been a gargantuan 2 hours and 52 minutes long. It features Batman heading to Arkham on the “anniversary” of his meeting the Joker so that he can pick his brain about the Riddler. We never get a clear look at the character, with shots showing his face blurred behind the protective glass or partially obscured, but this Joker seems horribly scarred all over, with thinning hair and bloody fingernails.
Barry Keoghan is the man playing the Joker, but his interpretation seems deeply rooted in Heath Ledger’s character-defining take on the role. There’s a bit of Mark Hamill’s voice from Batman: The Animated Series as well, but the Ledger influence is obvious, down to the scarring helping to create the Joker’s trademark smile. Director Matt Reeves has said that he doesn’t have any plans to bring the character back for the sequel, claiming his brief cameo in the film wasn’t a Marvel-style tease, but that seems far less likely with this clip now released.
I have a theory, in fact, that this deleted scene isn’t a deleted scene at all. Supposedly, the scene was supposed to come sometime after the Riddler had killed Gotham’s commissioner as Batman struggles to find answers. However, Reeves, who co-wrote the screenplay, would have seen quickly that it didn’t fit and probably not shot it at all. Instead, this feels like a post-credits sequence without being a post-credits sequence — something that was shot not to be in the film but instead as a marketing teaser to keep the excitement up without looking like it’s just copying Marvel. Obviously, it’s effective regardless, because here we are talking about it.