Batman is as much a chameleon as much as he is a bat.
Over the decades, the Caped Crusader has suited up for a schlocky ‘60s comedy, Joel Schumacher’s Technicolor-dream Gotham, and Christopher Nolan’s grittily operatic film trilogy, proving that the character can be impressively malleable for a costumed crime-fighter.
Matt Reeves’ The Batman, which will mark the hero’s next theatrical outing, strips the Caped Crusader of the “I am the night” confidence he’d developed across Nolan’s trilogy. This time, Bruce Wayne is just forming his alter ego.
Speaking to promote his (unrelated) Marvel series What If..., Jeffrey Wright recently underlined this difference, teasing a take on Batman that makes good on his comic-book reputation as the World’s Greatest Detective.
Wright — who narrates What If...? as the Watcher — discussed his upcoming role as Commissioner Gordon in The Batman during a recent ComicBook interview. Filming has finally wrapped on the project after multiple Covid-19-related hurdles and production delays, and Wright’s looking back on his chemistry with lead Robert Pattinson, who’s slipping into the cape and cowl. Said the actor:
"I loved the dynamic that Rob and I were able to create. I’m really excited for people to see what he does with this. He creates three distinct people. There's Rob, there's Bruce Wayne and there's the Batman and they're each distinct. It's really cool.
This may sound strange at first — especially with the mention of a “Rob” persona — but the latter part of this quote shows what sets The Batman apart from other “gritty” realizations of the character. Whether in the Dark Knight trilogy or in more recent DC Universe films, Bruce Wayne and Batman exist in balance within the same individual, as a result of his years playing the part of a wealthy bachelor by day and prowling Gotham’s mean streets by night.
But Wright suggests that, with The Batman covering the early years of Bruce Wayne’s career as the crime-fighter, Pattinson’s character is still reconciling his various identities, figuring out how to be both the billionaire and the Bat.
So what does this mean for The Batman? Another quote from Wright highlights just how this affects the action: “It's a bit more of a throwback to the DC, as in Detective Comics, of it all.”
While the “superhero movie” may be a genre all of its own in a world that includes the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DCEU, and the Snyder Cut, The Batman is bringing the character back to his roots: as a non-superpowered vigilante who fights crime using technology and his detective-style powers of deduction.
This is the Dark Knight through the lens of Sherlock Holmes, in other words: a welcome addition to the big-screen belfry of Batmen.
The Batman will premiere in theaters March 4, 2022.