The new Clown Prince is being played by Barry Keoghan, who has certainly brought a unique flair to this classic character. Keoghan’s Joker hasn't been given much time in the spotlight (yet), but the performance he gave in the newly-released deleted scene shows lots of promise for his future as one of Batman’s greatest enemies. Although viewers haven't had the chance to learn more about him, here's how Keoghan’s Joker compares to previous live action renditions of the character.
One of the most noticeable differences between Keoghan and other versions created by those in the past is that Keoghan’s Joker is missing quite a lot of hair. In the past, fans have seen the Joker with a full head of vibrant green hair. Keoghan’s Joker does still have remnants of this iconic style, however most of his hair has been replaced by chemical burns and aggressive scarring. The damage presumably covers his entire body, based on a shot where Joker sifts through papers given to him by Batman. His hands are covered with scars similar to the ones on his head.
This particular style choice is consistent with the Joker’s comic book backstory, where he fell into a vat of acid during one of his earlier scuffles with Batman. Given the dark nature of the new film, it would make sense that Keoghan’s Joker is suffering from his acid bath, which has left serious burns on his body.
Other movies have touched on this comic-generated origin story, such as in Suicide Squad, where viewers saw Jared Leto’s Joker take the swan dive into a huge pool of chemicals, after convincing Harley Quinn to do the same. However, neither of these characters really had any physical consequences for their actions. Their skin was less pigmented, and they were certainly insane, but Keoghan’s Joker has the most intense deformities to date.
Keoghan’s Joker is a much more gruesome take on the character than any other live-action versions audiences have met thus far. It works well in the dark universe Matt Reeves has created, and even this new Joker’s smile is more haunting than anything DC has done before.
Keoghan's Joker doesn't have his face painted white, or wear any other type of makeup like Joaquin Phoenix in the Joker film, or even Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight trilogy. Most notably, though, Keoghan's Joker has a smile that's permanently stuck on his face. Reeves said that this new Joker has a medical condition which forces his face to be in a smile at all times. That means Keoghan’s Joker isn't drawing on his face to fit the clown-like image citizens of Gotham associate him with- he's simply stuck this way.
An important part for any actor playing the Joker is making sure to nail the iconic character’s laugh. There's been tons of different interpretations over the years, but Keoghan’s laugh differs from all the rest. One of the most famous Joker portrayals of all time was obviously Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight trilogy, so fans typically compare new Jokers to Ledger.
When comparing the laughs between Ledger and Keoghan, their different takes on the character become more obvious. Ledger’s Joker laugh was maniacal and bone-chilling, making it quite obvious that his character took pleasure in chaos. Keoghan’s laugh takes on a more childish tone and his unhinged giggling at Batman’s expense feels more smug. So, where Ledger’s Joker finds joy in chaos, Keoghan’s Joker seems to find more satisfaction in knowing his mind games are having a negative impact on the Caped Crusader.
Upon first seeing Batman, Keoghan’s Joker mentions how it’s their “one-year anniversary,” implying that they’ve known each other for quite some time. Given that the Joker is locked up in Arkham Asylum and Bruce Wayne has been living his double life for a while when the events of The Batman pick up, it seems as if Keoghan’s Joker has already paid the price for choosing a life of crime.
Unlike all the other live-action Batman movies that have come before, the Joker’s introduction to audiences is not his introduction to Batman. Reeves’ version of the story picks up after Bruce Wayne and the Clown Prince have already built history between them, even though Keoghan’s character is never explicitly referred to as “the Joker.”
Reeves’ decision to introduce the Joker this way offers a fresh perspective on a complex relationship that many movie-makers have experimented with before.