The man behind the return of Gotham’s favourite son reveals why Robert Pattinson was his first and only choice.
Though comic books are by their nature about iteration, reinvention and status quo, there are few characters adapted for the screen that feel quite so ubiquitous as The Batman. From the camp antics of Adam West in ’66 to the character’s gothic, brooding reinvention in Burton’s films, to his return to camp again with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin – one might think we’ve seen it all at this point.
But with Robert Pattinson now taking the cowl, director Matt Reeves, known for his thoughtful genre flicks both large scale (Dawn of Planet of the Apes) and not (Cloverfield), there’s still more to the Caped Crusader than we’ve seen on screen. We caught up with the filmmaker ahead of the film’s release to talk the Bat, the Cat, and the Pattinson.
LWLies: Your vision of an early days, Batman-in-progress reminds me of Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli’s ‘Batman: Year One’.
Reeves: Totally, and that was one of the comics that when I did a deep dive at the beginning of this. I started by looking at all of the Kane and Finger stuff because that is totally noir – it made me think of Chinatown. But there was something about rereading ‘Year One’, tonally, that really resonated because one of the things I find exciting about Batman as a character is that he’s got a kind of compulsion and essentially just trying to cope. Also, while I was rereading that one, I was trying to figure out, well, how do you really go around being Batman?
You can’t go around through Gotham Square, which is like Times Square or any big city, dressed as a giant bat because people will look and go, ‘Oh, there’s that guy again? What’s he doing?’ I understand that the purpose of his costume is to intimidate and I wanted it to be very practical. You had to see that it was almost like it was very tactical. It would protect him. I wanted the design of that was all driven by its purpose. But that meant that I was like, well, wait a minute, you can’t just walk around in that, so how does he find crime? In ‘Year One’, before he becomes Batman, Bruce goes to the East End. It’s actually where he meets Selina Kyle for the first time.
But he goes as a drifter, because he can’t go as Bruce Wayne either. He’s high profile whether he’s Batman or not, so he had to become a third alter ego. That’s one of the things that we play with in the movie too, like ‘How does he get from place to place?’ As grounded as Nolan’s movies were – and they’re fantastic – but for all of the realism, he still leaned into the fantasy. I think he made a great joke of it too,