“I’m vengeance!” Okay, who didn’t get chills running through their body when Robert Pattinson’s brooding Dark Knight uttered those words after beating a thug to the ground in the first The Batman trailer? That’s everyone, then?
Born under the clouds of Batman V Superman, Justice League, Joss Whedon, and Ben Affleck’s departure, the newest incarnation of the legendary hero is finally taking shape thanks to writer/director Matt Reeves and his new, noir-inspired detective story that is set to hit cinemas in 2021.
As with most comic book heroes, everyone has an idea in their head of just what they should be: the costume, the voice, the actor, the suit, almost everyone has an opinion in a world that lives on them, rightly or wrongly.
But the resounding success of those first glimpses of the new Batman has echoed the world over, and the excitement is truly building.
We’ve been here before, of course, but this time it feels different, special even, similar to how Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins changed the face of the genre forever.
Firstly, casting Robert Pattinson in the role.
What a shock that was to people, similar to the reactions that first greeted Heath Ledger’s winning of the role of The Joker. How wrong we were then.
But immediately Reeves added a new mystery to his film, there is something to be discovered there, something we didn’t know we wanted but now can’t think of anything else, particularly after that trailer.
Then, of course, there is the rest of the cast: a new, seriously sinister take on The Riddler by Paul Dano, an unrecognisable Colin Farrell as The Penguin, Andy Serkis as a slightly younger Alfred, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, and Jeffrey Wright as Jim Gordon.
All exceptional talent, all out of their comfort zones somewhat doing something different that will ignite the anticipation surrounding the film tenfold.
Following Nolan’s mantra of casting the best people for the role and not necessarily the biggest names (although some are quite big), there is something to discover in the film just by having those actors attached to those characters.
It’s the film’s tone, design, and look that also has fans excited, and for good reason: this is unlike any adaptation that has gone before, and just from those few early images and the trailer (edited together from the 25 per cent of the film shot before lockdown), we are already in a different Gotham City.
Dano’s Riddler looks more like John Doe from Se7en than Jim Carrey and, for arguably the first time ever, we are going to see Bruce Wayne’s detective nous really put to the test.
We’ve seen bits in The Dark Knight and others but not to such a degree, with fans already trying to pick up on the riddles and their meanings.
The story, too, is unlike anything before and quite rightly so. Like with Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), we don’t need to see his origins again, we know enough, we want to delve deeper into his thinking and behaviour after being Batman for a while.
This is ‘Year Two’, with a society unsure of his values and place in Gotham, seeing Batman as a harmful and dangerous vigilante, perhaps even more so than any other interpretation. As Matt Reeves has said, “he is so far from being perfect.”
Batman is raw, untested, volatile, and younger than what we have seen before, and while we hope he doesn’t go ‘full Snyder’ and become a full-blown murderer, the narcissistic, rage-fuelled tendencies are there in spades it seems, and his trauma, as co-writer Mattson Tomlin has discussed, causes reactions to what he is doing and “leans into that in some very fun and surprising ways”.
The Batman comes at a time when the DCEU is expanding ever more, but is as detached as before, which can only be a good thing for Batman.
Ben Affleck was a fantastic Caped Crusader, vengeful and dangerous, but for the character to truly work he needs to be out on his own without the need to team up with others.
Unlike Iron Man or other MCU characters, his story has always been one of loneliness and the single goal of turning fear on those who bring fear themselves, a very singular, operatic theme that creates a very isolated existence that is in keeping with the character.
You just felt, for all the goodwill he had, Affleck’s version could never have his own film within those confines – just look at Batman And Robin for further proof.
What Reeves, Tomlin, and co have been doing feels right, perfect for the new generation of Batman fans, a take that is dark, gritty, and grounded like Nolan’s, but feels fresh and in keeping with the lure of the character in that he can be contorted and stretched in new and interesting ways.
Indeed, unlike some of the other iterations, there strangely seems less pressure – and less baggage – than on those that have come before, that there is less feverish anticipation, which can only be a good thing.
It’s almost simmering under the surface, rather than accompanied by the usual hullabaloo that comes with such endeavours – just look at The Snyder Cut fever that has gripped the internet.
The Batman is exactly the kind of film we will need next year: everything we want, but everything we didn’t know we needed.
The Batman is due to be released on 1st October 2021. Check out Zavvi’s wide range of Batman merchandise.