The Batman: Robert Pattinson is the Dark Knight, plus everything else we know

Jeffrey Wright and Jonah Hill might join Robert Pattinson in The Batman

DC Comics’ Dark Knight has a long and successful history in films and television, and now he’s poised to return to the big screen in The Batman, the upcoming solo feature set in Warner Bros. Pictures’ cinematic universe of DC superheroes and villains. Development has been slow on the project, but casting now appears to be underway, both official and otherwise.

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Set to be directed and written by Cloverfield and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes filmmaker Matt Reeves, The Batman will be the character’s first solo feature since the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy. The film is scheduled to hit theaters in June 2021, with Robert Pattinson taking over the role of the Dark Knight, and a number of other well-known faces playing some of Gotham’s most prominent citizens.

Here’s everything we know about The Batman so far.

  • Title: The Batman
  • Release date: June 25, 2021
  • Cast: Robert Pattinson, Joe Manganiello, Jeremy Irons
  • Director: Matt Reeves

The supporting cast

Robert Pattinson’s Batman has found his closest ally. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Westworld and James Bond star Jeffrey Wright will play Commissioner Gordon in the latest take on DC’s Caped Crusader. Wright takes over the role from JK Simmons, who played Gordon in the Ben Affleck-led Justice League.

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Courtesy of HBO

In addition, Variety says that Jonah Hill is in talks for a “secret role” in The Batman. Variety doesn’t know who Hill will play and warns that the deal has yet to be signed, but indicates that Warner Bros. was eyeing Hill for the project even before Pattinson was cast.

An earlier casting rumor for The Batman has director Matt Reeves reuniting with one of his frequent collaborators: Planet of the Apes franchise actor Andy Serkis.

Andy Serkis planet of the apes
20th Century Fox

According to Batman on Film, Serkis — who provided the performance-capture acting for Caesar, the lead character across the Planet of the Apes trilogy — is in talks for an unidentified, live-action role in The Batman. Reeves directed the final two installments of the rebooted Planet of the Apes series, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes, with Serkis earning widespread acclaim for his performance.

Although Serkis is best-known for his performance-capture work, he has delivered some celebrated on-camera performances in recent years, including a memorable supporting role in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther.

One of the few cast members who seems to be confirmed at this point for The Batman is Jeremy Irons, who’s expected to reprise his role as Alfred Pennyworth in the film.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Irons previously played the role in Batman v Superman and Justice League, and all signs point to him continuing to play the part of Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler, mentor, and confidant.

The star

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.

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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.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The release date

The expected release date for The Batman has been uncertain or frequently pushed back for most of the project’s development, but the studio finally put it on the release calendar in late January 2019. Warner Bros. Pictures has set June 25, 2021, as the official premiere date for The Batman.

A few days before the studio’s announcement, Reeves offered a hint as to when he expects the movie to hit theaters.

“We haven’t been dated. I wouldn’t commit to this, but we’re thinking the movie would probably be for 2021, late spring or summer,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “Warner Bros. has been incredibly supportive and given me a lot of time and shared the same passion that I do for this story.”

The story

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.”

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

“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 August 2018, Reeves said he expected to have a new draft of the script finished that month.

Filming

An unconfirmed report in early January 2019 indicated that cameras might begin rolling on The Batman in November. The report indicated that the script for the film is “basically in,” and casting could begin in earnest over the following months.

The villain(s)

The Dark Knight has a memorable rogues’ gallery, but at least one of the villains he’s expected to face off against in The Batman hasn’t played a featured role in any of his live-action films so far.

In August 2016, Ben Affleck posted a video on Twitter featuring an unknown actor in costume as Slade Wilson, the lethal DC Comics mercenary known as Deathstroke.

Created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, Deathstroke was subjected to a secret military experiment that gave him enhanced strength, agility, and other attributes. A tactical genius with fighting skills that rival those of Batman, Deathstroke has battled — and occasionally defeated — many of DC Comics’ most prominent heroes over the years.

Just a few weeks after Affleck posted his video, Deathstroke was confirmed as the villain of Batman’s solo movie, with True Blood actor Joe Manganiello also confirmed as the actor under the mask in that video.

Manganiello then made his debut as Deathstroke 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.

Deathstroke might not be the only villain featured in the film, though. Reeves indicated in January that the movie will feature Batman’s rogues gallery in one form or another, suggesting that there could be a large cast of foes for the Dark Knight to face.

According to tweets from Variety’s Justin Kroll, the villain — last seen on the big screen in 1992’s Batman Returns, as played by Danny DeVito — has been tentatively tabbed as Batman’s main opponent in the upcoming film.

Kroll stressed that Warner Bros. isn’t 100-percent certain about the decision, but that Penguin is a lock for an upcoming DCEU film — either The Batman or Birds of Prey, a planned movie featuring several popular female characters.

The problems

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 on the film a month later.

The Batman movie

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.

Updated on September 23, 2019: Added casting rumors regarding Jeffery Wright and Jonah Hill.

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