There’s a lot to love about Matt Reeves’ take on The Batman.
The character’s introduction is one of the best onscreen portrayals of him yet, as we see how two years of dwelling in the shadows has bred fear into the criminals of Gotham, with some chilling shots of them staring into dark alleyways, fearful of what will emerge. And there is a fresh arc to the Batman’s role in Gotham, evident by the end of the film, a take on the character we haven’t really seen highlighted for some time. Gratifyingly, it’s an arc earned both plot-wise and emotionally.
His relationship with Jeffrey Wright’s excellent Jim Gordon (though really, when isn’t Wright excellent…!?) is a highlight, though doesn’t pay off as satisfyingly as we might expect. Perhaps they’re saving that for the inevitable (and bluntly teased) sequels.
And finally, after decades of being ignored in the various cinematic versions of Batman, ‘the World’s Greatest Detective’ (as he’s known in comic books) takes to the screen, and very welcome he is (albeit set against a typically convoluted film noir plot).
Noir is a major touchstone here, and Jake Gittes would be at home in Reeves’ Gotham as much as he was in Polanski’s Chinatown (I almost expected someone to pull Gordon aside and say “Forget it, Jim, it’s Gotham”).
The other influences are strong: Scorsese’s Taxi Driver weighs heavily on Pattinson’s Batman/Wayne, and Fincher’s Se7en and Zodiac loom close at hand in numerous ways, while the dynamic between Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Batman here could easily be traced back to Sutherland and Fonda’s in Pakula’s Klute. Meanwhile, comic book series such as Batman: Year One and The Long Halloween also make their presences keenly felt (Zoe Kravitz’s winning take on Kyle/Catwoman has its DNA placed firmly in the former).
These textures make for a far more refreshing version of the character than I was expecting, and while the distinctly non-frenetic pace is to be applauded, a tighter edit could easily have trimmed fifteen to twenty minutes from the bloated three hour running time without any detraction from the overall film.
While Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne occasionally veers a little too close to being a moody emo boy under his floppy locks, he nevertheless brings a fine vulnerability to the role, gifting the character with liberal (*cough*) doses of white guilt and a couple of touching revelatory moments for both of his alter-egos. Happily, the actor/director/studio choice not to make Wayne growl absurdly as Batman pays dividends, as that has been too much of a diversion in recent iterations of the character.
The film’s main villain never feels quite as present or chilling as he should be. Despite some truly grisly crimes he tends to get a little lost in the story’s mass of convolutions, and his final confrontation with Batman ultimately suffers when compared to, and yes, that is an elephant in the room, Ledger’s Joker. Indeed, The Batman is unable to escape from the long shadows cast by the far-too-recent Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy (or, to a far lesser extent, the Snyder Batfleck efforts), and perhaps expects audiences to have moved on too quickly from that cultural juggernaut. It’s a sure bet that Reeves’ outing with the Caped Crusader would have felt fresher with a little more distance from those films.
Having said that, Reeves should be applauded for his almost stoic anti-blockbuster approach, deftly juggling elements of noir, horror, and mystery, for resolutely refusing to spoon fed audiences yet another version of the Batman origin story, and for leaving the character in a place that bodes well for his next outing.
Though maybe next time Reeves could bring some sharper scissors to the edit suite.
The DC FanDome online event has just dropped the second trailer for Matt Reeves’ forthcoming film, The Batman.
Starring Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader, this latest trailer reveals much more of Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman and Colin Farrell as Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot, A.K.A The Penguin. Still held back from all but the briefest view is the film’s chief villain, Paul Dano’s The Riddler.
In his second year of fighting crime, Batman uncovers corruption in Gotham City that connects to his own family while facing a serial killer known as the Riddler.
Reeves has promised that this iteration of the DC Comics character will place a greater emphasis on his detective skills, though since this trailer mainly focuses on action beats, we’ll have to wait and see if that bears out.
Originally set for release on June 25, 2021, the pandemic saw that date come and go, and The Batman will now emerge from the Bat-Cave into cinemas in March, 2022.
EDIT: Director Reeves released a higher quality res version via his Vimeo account:
The answer, of course, is that Warner Bros have just announced Paul Dano will play The Riddler, in Matt Reeves’ The Batman.
We couldn’t be happier about this at Out of Dave’s Head towers, as Dano is a superb actor and a smart choice.
In a departure from the comic books, Dano’s character will be named Edward Nashton, as opposed to the rather too on-the-nose Edward Nigma, and will be part of a Rogues’ Gallery of villains squaring off against the Caped Crusader, joining (so far) Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman (see here for more).
Jonah Hill was in talks for the film, reportedly to play either The Riddler or The Penguin, but it seems negotiations broke down, swiftly followed by Dano’s announcement.
Created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang in Detective Comics 140, published in 1948, the Riddler has previously appeared onscreen portrayed by Frank Gorshin and John Astin (in the 1960s Batman film and TV series) and Jim Carrey (in the 1995 film, Batman Forever).
Dano’s credits include Love and Mercy, Prisoners, 12 Years a Slave, There Will Be Blood, Youth and Okja, and he was recently nominated for an Emmy for his role in Escape at Dannemora.
Dano and Kravitz join Jeffrey Wright as Comissioner Gordon and Robert Pattinson as Batman. Warner Bros will release The Batman on June 25, 2021.
Photo: Paul Archuleta/WireImage
Big Little Lies star Zoe Kravitz has been confirmed as Catwoman for new movie, The Batman.
The actor reportedly pipped the likes of Zazie Beetz, Eiza Gonzalez and Oscar winner Alicia Vikander for the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman’s nemesis/love interest in Matt Reeves’ soon-to-begin filming new take on the Caped Crusader, starring Robert Pattinson in the title role.
Pattinson was chosen by Reeves and Warner Bros when previous Batman, Ben Affleck, departed the role after than the less-than-satisfactory Justice League.
Meanwhile, Kravitz’s credits include the Divergent series and Mad Max: Fury Road, and she will stalk the streets of Gotham alongside Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon and Jonah Hill, who is in talks for an unspecified villain role.
“It’s very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale,” Reeves said of his take, to the Hollywood Reporter earlier this year. “It’s told very squarely on his shoulders, and I hope it’s going to be a story that will be thrilling but also emotional. It’s more Batman in his detective mode than we’ve seen in the films. The comics have a history of that. He’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, and that’s not necessarily been a part of what the movies have been.
Pre-production on the Warner Bros./DC Comics pic is expected to start this summer. No official start date has been set, but industry rumours have suggested that filming could start late this year or early in 2020.
The Batman is scheduled to hit cinemas on June 25th, 2021.