At this week’s virtual DC FanDome event, Warner Bros and DC provided fans with a first-look at The Batman. While director and co-writer of The Batman, Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), revealed that they’ve so far only filmed around a quarter of the keenly-awaited film (a riposte to Ben Affleck’s rather mediocre turn as the caped crusader), the full-length trailer offers clues to his approach to the fabled story of Bruce Wayne.
In his address, Reeves explained: “This is not an origin tale… a lot of the other stories are about how [Bruce Wayne] mastered his fear to become Batman. What was exciting for me was not that, but to meet him in the middle of his criminological state. For him to make mistakes. It’s early and Batman’s still a vigilante. He’s not yet the symbol of hope… he’s still a growing legend. People wonder whether he exists. It’s one of the things he will confront in the story. He’s in Year Two of being Batman.”
That the lead in Reeves’ film is Robert Pattinson says a lot. Since his rise to fame in teen franchises Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and, later, the blockbuster Twilight series, Pattinson has ably demonstrated his acting chops by teaming with screenwriters and directors of serious calibre, seeking out obscure roles in indie hits including The Lighthouse (directed by Robert Eggers), Tenet (Christopher Nolan), The Devil All the Time (Antonio Campos) and Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg).
This character study approach is rather perfectly suited to Pattinson, who brings a subtlety to his roles that, in this instance, contrasts from the bravado of previous stars’ turns. Certainly, in his Dark Knight trilogy, Nolan (whose new film, Tenet, coincidentally opened in theatres this week in what studios hope will mark a post-COVID return to cinemas) added layers of emotional complexity to the Batman character, executed brilliantly by Christian Bale who was able to portray the internal torments of a man riddled by guilt. But Reeves’ approach seems altogether darker. What we see of Paul Dano’s Riddler offers glimpses of the dangers that Pattinson’s Batman will face. “It’s a version of the Riddler that no one has ever seen before and I think it’s gonna blow people’s mind,” says Reeves.
Also starring Zoe Kravitz as Selena (before morphing completely into the Catwoman), Jeffrey Wright and Peter Sarsgaard, the film promises to be a highlight of 2021’s cinematic offering, and though we’ll need to wait until 1 October to see it, DC is pulling out all the stops in building momentum, with its announcement that The Rock will play its next superhero, Black Adam, and Wonder Woman 1984 set for October this year, with the latest trailer revealing more of Kristin Wiig’s turn as Cheetah (see the trailer below).