The Dark Knight strikes again! At DC FanDome, the virtual convention for fans of all things DC, The Batman finally premiered its first footage to the masses. And naturally, there were surprises waiting inside this new vision of Gotham City. Let's break down what we just saw, including Robert Pattinson quoting one of Batman's most famous lines.
On Saturday, Warner Bros. held DC FanDome, the 24-hour virtual convention for all things DC, including comics, movies, TV, and video games. (A second day will be held on September 12.) At 8:30 p.m. Eastern, director Matt Reeves took the virtual stage to premiere the first footage of The Batman, which will star Robert Pattinson in a younger iteration of the character.
Earlier in the day, Warner Bros. executive Walter Hamada and DC Comics figurehead Jim Lee described The Batman as a "Year Two" story of Batman in its own universe separate from the "DCEU" continuity. At the panel, Robert Pattinson said he's "very excited" to get back to shooting, as production was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Also at the panel, hosted by Aisha Tyler, was director Matt Reeves, who cited Batman's drive as his true superpower. "He's a very alive character," Reeves said. "He is so far from being perfect and to watch him become what we know about him, I felt that was a way of doing something that hadn't been done."
In the trailer, set to a moody rendition of Nirvana's "Something in the Way," Pattinson appears as a gritty Batman in a fight of wits with the Riddler (Paul Dano). Along the way, Batman also meets Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) and Comissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright).
The trailer ends with Batman brutally beating a gang member. When asked "Who are you?," Batman responds, "I'm vengeance." Fans of Batman: The Animated Series know exactly where that line comes from.
You can watch the trailer below.
While the trailer doesn't reveal too much (to be expected, as only a quarter of the script was shot before lockdown) we can deduce the plot involves the Riddler committing a string of murders. That's where Batman comes in.
Reeves also teased that Bruce Wayne/Batman will, as a detective, uncover deep-rooted corruption in Gotham City. That includes discovering what role his parents, the wealthy Wayne Family, played in that corruption, making The Batman a "personal" story.
Overall the movie looks and feels gritty. Yes, that's an overused word these days, but The Batman really fulfills that definition with its clash of dark color palettes (splashed with vivid red) and rain-drenched settings. You get the strong impression this isn't Gotham City, but New York City on a very bad day. (The film was shot and is still shooting in Liverpool in the UK.)
Reeves explained that a lot of the characters aren't yet fully formed in their popular roles. While Bruce Wayne is Batman, Kravitz' Selina Kyle is not yet Catwoman. The Riddler is only just "emerging" for the first time. Oswald Cobblepot, played by Colin Farrell, actually hates his nickname "Penguin."
Lastly, Matt Reeves also discussed the tie-in TV series, titled Gotham P.D. with Terrance Winter, that will explore the corruption of Gotham City.
The Batman, with a script by Project Power writer Mattson Tomlin, is a new grounded and gritty take on the famous DC superhero. Though not an origin story, the film does take place in the early years of Batman's career as he squares off against a number of his most famous villains.
Based on the film's purposeful use of the color red, one of the movie's biggest inspiration is Frank Miller's 1987 graphic novel miniseries Batman: Year One, which illustrated Bruce Wayne's return to Gotham City and first year as a crime fighter. That same series was previously adapted into a 2011 animated feature of the same name, with Gotham star Benjamin McKenzie as Batman and Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston as Detective Jim Gordon.
At DC FanDome, Reeves also talked up the late Darwyn Cooke's Batman: Ego, an oft-overlooked but acclaimed graphic novel in Batman history.
The movie's place in what fans call the "DC Extended Universe" was confirmed at FanDome, in that it's not in it. The movie takes place outside the continuity of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Justice League. This means Pattinson isn't "taking over" from Ben Affleck, but playing a different version of the character we all know and love.
Affleck himself was originally set to write, direct, and star in The Batman until he departed the DC franchise in 2019. Just this week, Affleck agreed to return in the 2022 movie The Flash. Along with Affleck, Michael Keaton will return in his popular Batman role from the 1989 film.
The Batman will be released on October 1, 2021.