We do not know where these rumors come from, or how they get started, or why people get so invested in them. But The Batman has been subject to a classical Internet Fan Rumor™ lately. It claims that Barry Keoghan, who is supposedly playing a Gotham City cop named Stanley Merkel, is actually (or eventually transforms into) the Joker. Why? Again, who knows. Maybe because Keoghan sort of looks like a guy who might play the Joker. Either way, that’s the rumor.

There’s been no confirmation whatsoever about this rumor, but The Hollywood Reporter did issue a curious note in their newsletter about it. They had no answers about Keoghan’s arc in the film, they claimed, but they did say this:

Multiple sources tell us that Warner Bros. has been testing two different cuts of The Batman, one with a certain actor, one without. And the final test screening occurred last week, with the decision now made as to which version the studio likes, says one source.

It’s odd that THR says one version features a “certain actor” and not “a certain character” — so who is the actor and who would they play? Is someone else possibly going to show up in the movie as the Joker? This is a mystery that you’d need the world’s greatest detective to solve before The Batman get released..

Presumably these two cuts of the film are very similar, but wouldn’t it be amazing if one was a bleak, gritty tale of vengeance and the other was a hilarious romp through Gotham City in the style of the 1960s Adam West series? Just how different can you make two cuts from the same raw footage? #ReleaseTheAdamWestCut, Matt Reeves!

The Batman is scheduled to open in theaters on March 4, 2022.

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