In a rare move by a major studio, Warner Bros. has decided to release a deleted scene from a movie that is only three weeks into its theatrical run: The Batman. And I must say, it’s probably the greatest, most impressive publicity stunt I have witnessed in a long time. My initial reaction to the scene was that it was brilliantly shot by the film’s director, Matt Reeves, as he never focuses the camera for the audience to have a clear, full view of Barry Keoghan as the new Joker. Instead, there are clear, focused close-ups of his hands, forearms, and the back of his head. Though it was a scene meant to be a part of the final cut, it’s probably the greatest teaser for the film’s upcoming sequel.
In interviews promoting the release of The Batman, Matt Reeves did talk about the scene and the representation of his version of the Joker in this new DC cinematic universe. Many film scholars on the internet have pointed out old school film classics that influenced this fresh reboot of the caped crusader, such as David Fincher’s Seven (1995) and Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974). But, Matt Reeves said, in reference to what influenced Barry Keoghan’s Joker, he went all the way back to the silent film that originally inspired the character: Paul Leni’s The Man Who Laughs (1928). The character Gwynplaine in that film is deformed as a child to have a permanent grin as if he were born with the condition. So this new Joker’s bad day wasn’t a moment of getting scars or being thrown into a tank of chemicals, nor is it a man with an uncontrollable, painful laugh who decides to stop taking his meds; it is a man born with a smile, and his bad day was his birth.
The over five minutes of deleted scenes is a verbatim, blatant rip-off of The Silence Of The Lambs (1991), which doesn’t make it bad at all. Still, with a film that already has visual echoes from other detective classics, it’s pushing to the point of having too many easter eggs in one basket. And the scene offsets the narrative flow of the film because why would Batman need to see Joker anyway? It seemed like a waste of time. Also, it makes The Batman look stupid because he slides the Joker files with paper clips on them. Do you think one was missing when Joker slid it back under the glass partition?
That’s the brilliance of this scene; it works perfectly as a deleted scene released on the internet while the film is still in theaters, and it was perfect not to be in the final cut.