With apologies to the MCU, Batman might be the single most popular superhero in modern pop culture. It’s no surprise then that we’ve seen numerous iterations of the Caped Crusader in film, including Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, Christopher Nolan’s beloved “Dark Knight trilogy” and most recently Zack Snyder’s vision for the character.
It’s no small challenge at this point to make yet another live-action Batman film, let alone one with a fresh and unique perspective. Director Matt Reeves accepted the challenge, intent on focusing on one element of the character that has been underemphasized in film – The World’s Greatest Detective.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a special advance screening for Reeves’ The Batman, followed by a Q&A with the director, producer Dylan Clark and stars Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz.
Reeves emphasized repeatedly that The Batman is not an origin film. “I didn’t want to do an origin story. And I knew that I wanted to do a story that would lean into the detective side of Batman, because we hadn’t seen it, where it was really in the forefront of the story,” Reeves said.
Over the course of the various Batman related films, audiences have seen numerous versions of Batman’s origin, often starting with the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, followed by scenes of a young Bruce finding himself and training to become the legendary hero. Reeves’ vision was to present not a young Bruce, but a young Batman. “I wanted to do a Batman story where he was already Batman, but he still was in early days, had to find a way to sort of really evolve,” Reeves said. “And I wanted to do a story that the investigation of this particular mystery would lead him back to something very personal, and would rock him to his core.”
In order to pull together this version of Batman, Reeves mined numerous sources, both within DC Comics’ extensive library of books, and some of the best psychological thrillers from TV and film. Reeves mentioned well known Batman books, The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, and Frank Miller’s Year One as prominent influences for his story. “I started thinking about, you know, from Long Halloween, I was thinking about the Calendar Man, and the idea of the different sort of killings,” Reeves said. “And then this idea came to me, I thought, well, you know, we could do a thing where at these crimes there’s correspondence left for the Batman and and the whole idea of being Batman as your powers in being anonymous. So the idea that suddenly is someone is shining a light on you that that would be very unsettling to him.”
A live-action film inspired by Year One and The Long Halloween is already a recipe for success. However, Reeves also referenced other well known criminal stories from real world events, and the stories that they inspired. “I thought about the Zodiac. And I thought about how the Zodiac in this horrific way left all of these ciphers and these communications to the police and to the newspapers, and how unsettling that was. And I thought, wow, that actually sounds like a horrifying version of the Riddler because he was leaving all these puzzles,” Reeves said. “…So it’s this whole thing where you do the deep dive and you have like, everything becomes like a blender, like the number of comics that I read just to begin, and then watching sort of a bunch of stuff and reading Mindhunter, learning about profiling serial killers.”
The Batman premieres exclusively in theaters March 4th and tickets are on sale now!
ABOUT THE BATMAN:
From Warner Bros. Pictures comes Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson in the dual role of Gotham City’s vigilante detective and his alter ego, reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne.
Two years of stalking the streets as the Batman (Robert Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City. With only a few trusted allies—Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright)—amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens.
When a killer targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle/aka Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), Oswald Cobblepot/aka the Penguin (Colin Farrell), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and Edward Nashton/aka the Riddler (Paul Dano). As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.
Starring alongside Robert Pattinson (“Tenet,” “The Lighthouse”) as Gotham’s famous and infamous cast of characters are Zoë Kravitz (“Big Little Lies,” “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”); Paul Dano (“Love & Mercy,” “12 Years a Slave”); Jeffrey Wright (“No Time to Die,” “Westworld”); John Turturro (the “Transformers” films, “The Plot Against America”); Peter Sarsgaard (“The Magnificent Seven,” “Interrogation”) as Gotham D.A. Gil Colson; Jayme Lawson (“Farewell Amor”) as mayoral candidate Bella Reál; with Andy Serkis (the “Planet of the Apes” films, “Black Panther”); and Colin Farrell (“The Gentlemen,” “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”).
Reeves (“The Planet of the Apes” franchise) directed from a screenplay by Reeves & Peter Craig, based on characters from DC. Batman was created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger. Dylan Clark (the “Planet of the Apes” films) and Reeves produced the film, with Michael E. Uslan, Walter Hamada, Chantal Nong Vo and Simon Emanuel serving as executive producers.
The director’s behind-the-scenes creative team included Oscar-nominated director of photography Greig Fraser (“Dune,” “Lion”); Reeves’ “Planet of the Apes” production designer, James Chinlund, and editor, William Hoy; editor Tyler Nelson (“Rememory”); and Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran (“1917,” “Little Women,” “Anna Karenina”). The music is by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino (the current “Spider-Man,” “Jurassic World” and “Star Wars” films, “Up”).
Warner Bros. Pictures Presents a 6th & Idaho/Dylan Clark Productions Production, a Matt
Reeves Film, “The Batman.” The film is set to open in theaters in North America March 4, 2022 and internationally beginning 2 March 2022; it will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture. He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.