To Succeed, Robert Pattinson Needs To Embody Matt Reeves’s Vision of Batman
Batman/Bruce Wayne is one of the most iconic film roles in film history. The role of the millionaire vigilante can catapult (or cement) an actor as an enormous star in eyes of fans and critics across the globe. Michael Keaton, known largely as a comedic actor, redefined his career with his performances in Tim Burton’s Batman films; the actor proved many fans wrong after they had doubted his casting. Christian Bale, a talent actor who was best known for his role as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, became a household name after his incredible performances in The Dark Knight Trilogy. Conversely, the role can also hamper an actor for years to come. George Clooney, an academy award winner/nominee for acting, producing, and director, has spent years haunted by public’s memory of his performance in Batman and Robin, a film that also damaged the careers of several young actors who thought their participation in the film would help develop successful film careers.
Looking at the past forty years, there have been very few roles that have been more scrutinized than Batman (James Bond may be the only more scrutinized role in Hollywood). When Ben Affleck was cast as Batman earlier this decade, fans across the world sent millions of comments and criticisms flying across the internet at warp speed. The reaction was largely negative, though many fans and critics came out to support Affleck who performed admirably in his film appearances, despite being hampered by a confused vision of the DCEU and behind-the-scenes troubles.
Similar reactions have already began to unfold for Robert Pattinson who recently cast as Batman in Matt’s Revees’s The Batman. Pattinson, a thirty three year old English actor, is best known for his role as Edward Cullen in the Twilight series, though the actor has spent the past few years performing admirably in a host of intriguing films like Cosmopolis, The Rover, The Lost City of Z, and 2018’s High Life.
The road ahead for director Matt Reeves and Pattinson is a long one. With the casting of Pattinson, the duo, along with producers, designers, and other actors, can further develop their vision of Bruce Wayne and Gotham City. There will be tremendous expectations for the actors and filmmakers as they debut their vision of Batman, but in order to succeed, Pattinson needs exemplify or embody his and Reeves’s vision of the caped crusader, rather than placating the expectations and desires of fans or following in the footsteps of previous film iterations of the character.
Batman’s Versatility Allows For Iteration and Revision
One reason that Batman has endured for the past eighty years is the character’s versatility. The character is one of the most fluid in popular comics and culture. While the identity and backstory of Batman may remains the largely same, the psychological motivations, fighting styles, morality and ethics of the character have changed or been tweaked from version to version. Throughout Batman’s 80 year history comics writers like Bill Finger, Denny O’ Neil, Frank Miller, Jeph Loeb, Grant Morrison, and Scott Snyder have all created their own version of Batman, all of which are easy to differentiate and tell apart. Similarly, artists like Bob Kane, Carmine Infantino, Neal Adams, David Mazzucchelli, Tim Sale, and Greg Capullo have created instantly recognizable visual identities for the Caped Crusader.
Similarly, Batman has incredible versatility within his film and television properties. No one would argue that Adam West and Michael Keaton’s Batman are identical. Throughout more than seventy years on television and film, Batman has been revised and updated with different social and political norms, technology, and film making trends depending on the era. This variety and malleability is what makes Batman such an important and evergreen character. When Tim Burton directed his two Batman films, he also brought his own distinct ideas and influences for the character, which are reflected in the stage design and characters of the films. Additionally, Christopher Nolan re-framed Batman in a post-9/11 world dealing with the fear, paranoia and acts of terrorism that permeated the cultural landscape at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
Creating Their Own Vision of Batman Will Be The Key To Pattinson and Reeves’s Success Or Failure
Batman’s versatility and flexibility will give Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson a chance to put their stamp on the Caped Crusader. Together, the cast and crew of The Batman will have the opportunity to create their own vision of the character, one that will be a touchstone for this moment in popular culture. Reeves has already hinted at some of his own influences and inspiration for his upcoming films including the detective oriented Batman seen within several landmark comics. Reeves has previously stated in interviews that this film will be “Batman in his detective mode” as this aspect of the character that has largely been reduced in his previous iterations (Outlaw). It will be exciting to see how much Reeves will draw from iconic detective stories like Jeph Loeb’s The Long Halloween and Hush, or Scott Snyder’s The Court of Owls storyline, all of which see a more cerebral and analytical Batman unraveling complex mysteries.
There will be plenty of comparisons to other version of Batman in both film and comics, but to succeed, Pattinson needs to embody the version of the character that he and Reeves develop. While many fans will argue for hours on which Batman is the best, Burton and Nolan’s Batman films work because the characters fit within the universe created specifically for them. For example, Tim Burton’s Penguin and Catwoman did not fit the conventions of the characters from the comics, but these characters worked well in Gotham City that Burton and his team had created. Similarly, Tom Hardy’s Bane and Heath Ledger’s Joker were perfect for Nolan’s hyper realistic Batman trilogy. To succeed, Reeves and Pattinson will need make sure that their is a consistent vision for the Batman and Gotham City and executing this will be the key to their success.
Fans Need To Reserve Judgement On The Casting Until The Film Is Out
In The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway remarked that “reserving judgements is a matter of infinite hope”, a statement that fits well with the casting of any actor as Batman. While some may grumble about the choice of an actor (like Michale Keaton or Ben Affleck) as Batman, we will not know if the choice is successful until the film is released.
With this in mind, I urge fans to keep an open mind. As fans or critics, we are not in the rooms with actors as they audition, nor do we hear the conversations the actors had with Matt Reeves as they discussed the role. It is often forgotten but Heath Ledger faced an enormous amount of skepticism in the month leading up to the release of The Dark Knight. This was an instance of fan expectations getting in the way of the potential that a performer has. When discussing the casting and performance of Ledger, Nolan revealed that Ledger and Nolan discussed and shared “common reference points” for the character and the direction of the character overall. Similarly, Reeves seems to believe that Pattinson in the best to bring their vision of Batman to life. It is unknown if this is the right choice or wrong choice, but audiences will have to wait to see if the casting is correct or incorrect.
It is exciting to see a new vision of the Dark Knight take shape as the pre-production process continues. It is unknown what character or villains will be used in the film, though there are plenty of rumors circulating. Regardless of casting, it will be exciting to see a new Batman take flight, one that has the chance to define Batman for new and old fans alike.
What do you think? Leave a comment.