DC Comics’ Dark Knight has a long history in movies and television, and now he’s poised to return to the big screen in The Batman, the upcoming feature directed and written by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes filmmaker Matt Reeves. We now have our first peek at Batman’s new look, his new Batmobile, and other much-anticipated elements, as well as a few details about the other characters appearing in it.
The Batman will be the character’s first solo feature since the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy and is scheduled to hit theaters in October 2021. Robert Pattinson takes over the role of the Dark Knight, and a number of other well-known faces will play some of Gotham’s most prominent citizens.
Here’s everything we know about The Batman so far.
- Title: The Batman
- Release date: October 1, 2021
- Cast: Robert Pattinson, Colin Farrell, Jeremy Irons, Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright
- Director: Matt Reeves
Keeping it dark (but not too dark)
In a July interview with Collider, The Batman cinematographer Greig Fraser offered some clues about how far the film will go in embracing The Dark Knight’s, well … darker side.
“It’s a good question and it’s a question we ask ourselves,” he said of the visual tone for the film. “There’s darkness in the character for sure and we need to create a mood, which is obvious — it’s a Batman film. I don’t think it’s going to be oppressively dark in terms of visually, because that’s not what we’re trying to (do). We’re not trying to have a competition about who can go the darkest of the darkest of the darkest. We’re trying to create intrigue. I love the way some of the comics look. You can see relatively quite clearly in those graphic novels.”
For those who wondered whether the success of Joker could inspire The Batman to go even grimmer and darker than the much-maligned Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this will likely come as welcome news. Exactly which comics inspired Fraser’s visual approach to the film remain a mystery, however.
A new Joker?
According to an unconfirmed report from The Direct, director Matt Reeves might be planning to introduce a new Joker into his Batman trilogy. The plan, according to the widely circulated rumor, is to tease the new Joker in 2021’s The Batman and introduce him outright in the second and third movies as one of multiple villains.
After Robert Pattinson stoked the flames on a crossover theory with Todd Phillips’ 2019 Joker, fans speculated that the upcoming Batman trilogy may incorporate Joaquin Phoenix as the Clown Prince of Crime. However, the report indicates that Reeves will introduce a new version of the character rather than enlist Phoenix to reprise his role. Still, a link between the films is still possible given that both are independent of the DCEU.
Batman’s modern era
The character Batman has been around since 1939, enduring countless adaptations, reimaginings, and visions of the Caped Crusader’s mythos. According to The Batman‘s Commissioner Gordon, Jeffrey Wright, though, this upcoming film will bring that mythos into a new modern era.
“My take is — the way I explain what we’re doing is, like with any film, we’re working together to create a mood, to create an idea, a setting, a tone,” Wright told the Hollywood Reporter. “This is the next evolution since 1939 when these stories began.”
What that means, exactly, isn’t fully clear considering Matt Reeves’ take is expected to feature many classic characters, from Catwoman to The Penguin, and maintain the same origin story. However, as The Batman is something of a reboot for Warner Bros. after its brief stint with Ben Affleck as Batman in DC’s Expanded Universe, Wright could be simply referring to finding a new, independent place in the superhero’s history.
Wright indicated that one way in which this Batman is distinct from others is in his ride. “I read the script for the Batmobile and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s it,'” he said. “[Bruce Wayne] created the most badass muscle car you could imagine, but it’s grounded in Gotham. It’s grounded in Americana.”
Finding the balance between honoring a classic character, etching out a unique space in that character’s canon, and propelling Warner Bros.’ still-developing superhero universe will be a significant task. If Wright’s interview is any indication, this depiction of a grittier, more grounded Gotham may be the window to the past that will propel DC into the future.
The Penguin, briefly
After a September 2019 report in Variety indicated that Jonah Hill was in talks for a “secret role” in The Batman, the two-time Oscar nominee backed out of the project a month later. No reason was given for Hill’s exit, but the report indicated that he was in talks to play either Riddler or Penguin in the film.
Reeves eventually found his replacement, though, with Colin Farrell (below) eventually confirmed to play Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin. On an episode of YouTube series Stars in the House, actor Rob McClure revealed that Farrell will use prosthetic attachments for a more comic-accurate depiction of The Penguin.
Don’t expect a big role for Farrell to play in the film, though, as the actor himself indicated to GMA News that he doesn’t have “much to do” in the movie.
“I had only started it and I can’t wait to get back,” said Farrell. “The creation of it, the aesthetic of the character, has been fun and I really am so excited to get back and explore it. And I haven’t got that much to do. I have a certain amount in the film. I am not all over it by any means. But there are a couple of some tasty scenes I have in it and my creation and I can’t wait to get back.”
The release date
The expected release date for The Batman has been uncertain or frequently pushed back for most of the project’s development. Warner Bros. Pictures initially set June 25, 2021, as the official premiere date for The Batman. That date was later pushed back to October 1, 2021, after production was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Amid concerns surrounding the coronavirus, production of The Batman was halted in March. The film had been shooting in the U.K. for seven weeks before shutting down. It’s unknown when production will resume, but director Matt Reeves indicated that filming was one-quarter completed when it went on hiatus.
Gear and vehicles
— Matt Reeves (@mattreevesLA) March 4, 2020
The version of the iconic Batmobile making its debut in The Batman looks to be a more grounded spin on the car than previous films have offered, looking more like a suped-up muscle car than the military transport or futuristic jet car of past films.
In February, a stunt actor was seen donning the new Batsuit during filming in Glasgow, Scotland. Director Matt Reeves has stated that this upcoming take on the Caped Crusader would be more “noir” and, if the suit is any indication, things are getting a little dark around here.
— winnie the bruh (@Archivall) February 21, 2020
The stunt actor is seen in the new suit — which includes goggles in the mask’s eyeholes — and riding what appears to be the new Batcycle.
Video from the set suggests that this Batcycle will be significantly trimmed down from Christian Bale’s monstrous machine in the Dark Knight trilogy.
— 16mmcrewpodcast (@16mmcrewpodcast) February 21, 2020
The photos also showed Pattison’s Batsuit will have gauntlets, replete with darts of some sort to incapacitate his enemies. Likewise, the classic utility belt is present, although it’s difficult to make out the individual gadgets.
Matt Reeves shared the first look at Pattinson as Batman in a brief video (see above) uploaded to Vimeo on February 13.
The footage features Pattinson in costume bathed in infrared light, his face hidden by the Batman’s cowl. The clip is accompanied by a score created by the film’s composer, Michael Giacchino.
The supporting cast
Warner Bros. Pictures released the official cast list for The Batman in January 2020, confirming the characters that will be played by each of the film’s supporting cast members.
As initially reported by The Wrap, Andy Serkis will play Bruce Wayne’s butler and confidant Alfred Pennyworth. Although Serkis is best known for his performance-capture work — including a memorable portrayal of the ape revolutionary Caesar in the most recent Planet of the Apes trilogy — he has delivered some celebrated on-camera performances in recent years, including a memorable supporting role in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther. Reeves directed Serkis in the final two Planet of the Apes films.
Colin Farrell’s Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot won’t be the only member of Batman’s notorious rogues’ gallery to appear in the film.
Joining him will be Paul Dano (below), star of Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, and Escape at Dannemora. Dano will portray Edward Nashton, the brilliant villain known as The Riddler.
In October 2019, X-Men: First Class and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald actress Zoë Kravitz was cast as Selina Kyle in The Batman. As fans of The Dark Knight know all too well, Selina is the civilian alter ego of Catwoman, the notorious Gotham burglar who has been an ally, enemy, and romantic partner of Batman over the years.
Robert Pattinson’s Batman will also have a key ally in the film. Westworld actor Jeffrey Wright will play Gotham Police Department’s James Gordon in The Batman. Wright takes over the role from J.K. Simmons, who played Gordon in the Ben Affleck-led Justice League.
Joining the aforementioned cast members will be Peter Sarsgaard (Shattered Glass, The Magnificent Seven) as Gotham District Attorney Gil Colson, John Turturro as mob boss Carmine Falcone, and Jayme Lawson as Gotham City mayoral candidate Bella Reál. This will be Sarsgaard’s second turn in a film based on a DC Comics hero after portraying Hector Hammond, the villain of 2011’s Green Lantern. In an interview with The Observer, described his take on Colson as “very intense,” a description that seems in line with everything we’ve heard about this movie. “My part is very intense,” Sarsgaard said. “On a big show like that my main concern was that I would have to do it 150 times—this intense scene and then that intense scene. My character is at nine out of ten for a lot of it. That was going through my head a lot, like ‘How do I maintain this?’”
What about Deathstroke?
At this point, it’s unknown if Joe Manganiello will appear as the mercenary Deathstroke in the film, having been confirmed as the film’s villain back in 2016 when Ben Affleck was still attached as director and star of the film.
Manganiello’s Deathstroke appeared in a post-credits scene during Justice League in which he was seen meeting with Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) to discuss forming a “league” of villains.
Reeves indicated in January 2019 that the movie will feature Batman’s rogues’ gallery in one form or another, so there’s a possibility Manganiello could play a surprise role in the film.
It was a long and tumultuous development and pre-production period, but cameras officially began rolling on The Batman on January 27. Director Matt Reeves commemorated the occasion by posting a photo of the film’s clapboard on Twitter.
— Matt Reeves (@mattreevesLA) January 27, 2020
After more than a year of uncertainty in the casting department, Deadline reported in May 2019 that Twilight franchise star Pattinson had entered negotiations to play Bruce Wayne and his vigilante alter ego. The deal will reportedly encompass a trilogy of films featuring Pattinson as Batman.
Earlier that month, Variety reported Pattinson was the leading contender for the role, but a subsequent report published by Deadline indicated that the deal with Pattinson wasn’t finalized and that Mad Max: Fury Road actor and X-Men franchise star Nicholas Hoult was also in the mix. Hoult plays blue-furred scientist Hank McCoy in the X-Men films.
Despite portraying Batman in each of the films in which the character has appeared so far in the DC Extended Universe franchise, Ben Affleck won’t play Bruce Wayne (or his alter ego) in The Batman.
Like the Aquaman and Wonder Woman solo movies, The Batman is expected to focus on DC Comics’ famous Dark Knight while unfolding within — but perhaps less directly connected to — the studio’s DC Comics cinematic universe. Reeves has described the story he’s developing as “noir-driven” with Batman “investigating a particular case that takes us out into the world of Gotham.”
“It’s more Batman in his detective mode than we’ve seen in the films,” Reeves told The Hollywood Reporter in January. “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. I’d love this to be one where when we go on that journey of tracking down the criminals and trying to solve a crime.”
Rumors that the film would adapt the popular Batman: Year One story penned by Frank Miller were debunked by Reeves, who said he wouldn’t be telling an origin story for the character.
In an April conversation with The New York Times, Reeves gave a touch more background on the film, describing it as “incredibly personal” and “using the metaphors” of the DC Universe. “You never know whether the people in charge of those I.P.s are going to be open to your vision. But if they weren’t, I wouldn’t have done Batman,” he said. “I was like, look, there have been some great Batman films and I don’t want to just make a Batman film. I want to do something that has some emotional stakes. My ambition is for it to be incredibly personal using the metaphors of that world.”
First announced in 2014, the project that would eventually become The Batman initially had Affleck attached to direct, produce, co-write, and star in the film, sharing script duties with longtime DC Comics author and DC Films co-chairman Geoff Johns. All seemed well and good with the project until the first reactions to Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice (in which Affleck made his debut as Batman) began trickling in.
Affleck’s experience with the notoriously ill-received Batman V. Superman (which resulted in the interview that spawned the “Sad Affleck” meme) appeared to sour his relationship with the solo feature, and he announced his exit from the director’s chair in January 2017. Matt Reeves was named the new director of the film a month later.
The troubles weren’t over for The Batman, though, as a report was published a week later indicating that Affleck could be on his way out as Bruce Wayne and the studio was looking for a way to “usher out Affleck’s Batman gracefully.” That report was published on the second day of 2017’s San Diego Comic-Con, prompting Affleck to address it during Warner Bros. Pictures’ movie panel two days later.
“Let me be very clear: I am the luckiest guy in the world,” said Affleck when asked about the report during the show’s Justice League panel (via CNN). “Batman is the coolest part in any universe — DC, Marvel. It’s incredible. … I’m so thrilled to do it.”
“I know there was a misconception that because I didn’t direct it that I wasn’t enthusiastic about it, [but] it’s f—ing amazing,” he continued. “And I still can’t believe I’ve done two films and have this great history with this studio.”
After a long period of uncertainty regarding his attachment to the film, Affleck finally made it official in late January 2019 by confirming a report that the studio was looking to cast a new actor in the film’s lead role.
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) January 31, 2019
Updated on July 7, 2020: Added information from cinematographer Greig Fraser about the visual aesthetic of the film.
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