Copying shape key vertices from other object

In my scene I have two independent objects.
One is fully rigged and I want to add some facial expression by creating shape keys.

The rigged figure has a neutral face expression and the second object has a smiling face expression. Both objects are duplicates and the only difference is the facial expression.
Can I somehow replace the vertices on my rigged figure to the one with the smiling expression in a shape key?

You can, with the “Join as Shapes” option in the shape keys drop down menu.

Select your duplicated object, shift+click your rigged object, and in the Shape Keys section of your rigged object, hit the down arrow button for the drop down menu and select “join as shapes”. It will automatically create a “Basis” shape key, which is needed, and another shape key named after the duplicated object.

They both need to have the same vertex count/info in order for it to work, which it sounds like yours does.

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