In case you missed it over the weekend, there’s a brand new ‘Batman’ trailer going viral on the internet. We’re still quite a long way away from seeing Robert Pattinson make his debut as the legendary ‘Caped Crusader’ from the DC Comics universe (that won’t happen until 2021), but enough of his forthcoming movie “The Batman” in the can to show us a preview of what we might expect when the day of its release finally arrives. Initial reports from the time of Pattinson’s casting suggested that we would see a return to the world of the cartoons, and perhaps a lighter tone than we’ve seen recently from both Christian Bale and Ben Affleck’s time in the famous Batsuit. We now know that those predictions were way off the mark.
Based on the short, action-packed trailer, we now know that we’re going to see yet another dark, gritty Batman film. We see Pattinson hiding and brooding in the darkness, observing a crime-ridden Gotham City from behind eyeliner-smeared eyes with a look that wouldn’t have been out of place in his previous work on the ‘Twilight’ franchise. We get the impression that it will be supremely violent, and that Batman will be portrayed as an anti-hero rather than a hero. We also get the impression that it will be very cool. What we don’t get, however, is the impression that this new film will show us anything different from what we’ve seen during the past two decades of ‘Batman’ films. We enjoy a gothic, moody Batman film as much as the next cinema fan does, but ‘The Batman’ is supposed to be a reboot of the franchise. If it’s a reboot, shouldn’t the idea be to give us a take on the subject matter that hasn’t been seen before?
We know that we’re asking for a lot when we say that the film should feel new. ‘Batman’ is an extremely old character, and every possible take on the role has been provided before. Bale gave us ‘dark’ Batman. Adam West gave us ‘camp’ Batman. George Clooney gave us ‘pretty’ Batman. It would be hard to find any new territory for Bruce Wayne’s crime-fighting alter-ego to play with. There is clearly a market for seeing something less intense, though. The Batman ‘Arkham Asylum’ video games might be dark, but check out any online slots website of you’re choosing, and you’ll find that the more popular ‘Batman’ online slots games are set within the lighter side of the franchise. ‘Batman & the Riddler Riches,’ ‘Batman & Mr. Freeze Fortune,’ and ‘Batman & Catwoman Cash’ in particular are extremely cartoonish in their presentation. We’re not, at all, suggesting that big-time Hollywood movies should take their cues from what’s popular at online slots websites, but there’s clearly an audience there paying money to play those UK casino, and their preferred take on the ‘Batman’ sub-genre isn’t being catered to.
Gripes about tone aside, this film appears to be dealing with several classic characters from the ‘Batman’ universe at once. Paul Dano is on hand as the Riddler, but he’s not the only character Pattinson’s Batman will have to do battle with. Zoe Kravitz is in the movie as Catwoman, and based on a brief fight scene, it appears that Batman and Catwoman won’t be friends in this film, or at least not to begin with. Colin Farrell is also in the movie disguised by such heavy prosthetic work that he’s almost unrecognizable, but he’s playing the Penguin. In fact, the only really significant ‘Batman’ villain who isn’t in the film is the Joker. That might have something to do with the recent (and hugely successful) feature film that starred Joaquin Phoenix in that role, but set in a different time.
Aside from featuring a menagerie of villains, this film is intended to provide a new ‘origin story’ for Batman. The character of Bruce Wayne is around thirty when the movie begins, and Pattinson is visibly the youngest-looking performer ever to portray the role on the big screen. This is part of what drew Pattinson to the part – in past interviews, he’s described his Batman as ‘not fully formed’ and ‘flawed.’ Should the film be successful, it will presumably lead to three or four more movies in which Pattinson will flesh the character out and mature him. The idea of an ‘incomplete’ Batman provides plenty of dramatic impetus, but again, we can’t help but feel that we’ve seen this before. Christopher Nolan’s ‘Batman Begins’ worked perfectly well as an origin story, and the majority of people who would be interested in going to see ‘The Batman’ will already have seen ‘Batman Begins.’ Comparisons between the two will be inevitable.
Even with all of this said, we expect ‘The Batman’ to be a success. We’ve only seen flashes of Pattinson’s portrayal, but he appears to have the presence and the sense of menace nailed. We’re confident in saying that he won’t be reviewed as one of the worst performers ever to play Batman in a big-budget movie – that’s an ‘honor’ that’s generally reserved for either Val Kilmer or George Clooney – but he has enormous shoes to fill if he’s to be seen in the same light as Christian Bale, or even viewed as favorably as Michael Keaton was thirty years ago. Keaton, by the way, will soon be returning to the role of Batman in the next ‘Flash’ movie, as will Ben Affleck. That goes to show that no matter what you do with your career, you’ll always be associated with Batman. We suppose there are worse things to be known for, and so if everything goes wrong, Pattinson can at least rest assured that he’ll always have a residual income from his association with the character. As for the rest of this film, and whether it will be good enough to live up to the legacy of the previous films or not – we’re all going to have to wait and see. From our understanding, only around a quarter of the necessary filming was done before the studio and the project had to be shut down because of the global pandemic, and so we don’t expect to see the film hit movie theaters until the back end of 2021.