After much speculation and behind the scenes turmoil, Robert Pattinson has been cast as Batman/Bruce Wayne in Matt Reeves’ (the Planet of the Apes franchise) upcoming The Batman (2021). Little is known about the plot of the next live-action adaptation of the Dark Knight, except that Matt Reeves’ approach is said to be a more noir influenced, detective driven film than past live-action iterations. The Batman will also focus on a much younger Batman than the previous Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League) iteration. Whatever the finished product of the film looks like, it is welcome news that Matt Reeves wants to explore “the world’s greatest detective” actually detecting.
Robert Pattinson (Good Time, Cosmopolis) has caused some outrage amongst some fans. There are many that only see Pattinson as the sparkling vampire from the mega successful Twilight (2008) series. Michael Keaton, Mr. Mom (1983) himself, received the exact same treatment when it was announced that he would don the cape and cowl in Tim Burton’s film Batman (1989). If no one remembers, that worked out just fine.
This attitude ignores the past decade of Pattinson’s work. He carefully chooses his projects, eschewing many big studio offers to instead make independent and more artistically driven films. This is a daring move for an actor that could have just floated by on his good lucks and charm for the next few decades and called it a day. He has consistently turned in quality performances in films by esteemed directors. He’s twice worked with David Cronenberg (Maps to the Stars, Cosmopolis), Clare Denis (High Life), and is starring in Robert Eggers’ upcoming followup to The Witch (2015), The Lighthouse.
Warner Brothers and DC have had an on-again, off-again relationship with fans in the past few years. Their attempt at a shared universe, though much better received now, was extremely divisive unlike Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead, 300) took the helm with Man of Steel (2013), followed by Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). These films have a legion of fans (myself included), but were extremely divisive among fans and critics.
Although Zack Snyder is the credited director of Justice League (2017), Joss Whedon finished/overhauled the film. Shortly after the tragic suicide of his and producer Deborah Snyder’s daughter, he stepped away from the film. There is speculation that he was actually removed and replaced by Warner Brothers after the backlash from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. A planned Justice League sequel from Snyder was scrapped.
What’s past is past and the turmoil of the three years notwithstanding, the future looks very bright for DC fans indeed. Robert Pattinson is a formidable actor that only does work he is passionate about and brings a legion of fans from his Twilight teen heartthrob days to the table. Matt Reeves is a filmmaker that has already established he can navigate big studio projects succesfully while still retaining his vision as an artist. DC Films has been in a bit of transition as a whole for the better, stepping back from an interconnected shared universe and getting back to artistically driven films. That’s a great thing too.
Everything does not need to be like the MCU to be a good comic book film. There are many different voices out there and many exciting stories to tell. Warner Brothers came to this realization and is now less worried about everything in their films connecting to tell one massive story, and more concerned with delivering great films that may or may not connect in some ways.
Todd Phillips’ Joker for instance doesn’t connect or even take place in the same world as the films in the so-called DCEU. It’s low budget for a big studio, and feels like an homage to early Martin Scorsese films like The King of Comedy. That film couldn’t happen within the confines of the MCU. There’s still a long way to wait to see Robert Pattinson as the Bat. Matt Reeves’ The Batman doesn’t come out until June 25, 2021. Until then, if you’re only knowledge of Robert Pattinson is as that vampire that sparkled, you have plenty of time to catch up.