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No doubt the most highly anticipated panel of Saturday's DC FanDome event was a first look at The Batman, the latest incarnation of the Caped Crusader's story starring Robert Pattinson and directed/co-written by Matt Reeves.
After a brief introduction from Pattinson, who said that they are "anxious" to get back to work after shooting on the film was shut down earlier this year by the COVID-19 pandemic, the floor was turned over to Reeves for a discussion of the film and how it reinvents yet again the Dark Knight and his mythology. He also unveiled the killer first teaser trailer.
For Reeves, the appeal was telling a version of the Batman story that wasn't yet another take on the well-worn and well-known origin story, but is about "the early days of how he is Batman, and he is so far from being perfect, and we watch him becoming what we all know about him...I felt like that was a way to do something that hadn't been done."
Reeves offered up a few details about the plot, saying that Bruce Wayne is in year two as Batman and that his mission is a "criminological experiment" in Gotham in which the young millionaire is trying to "figure out what he can do to finally change this place."
Reeves continued to say that Wayne is not having the effect he wants to have on the crime-ridden city yet, and then a series of murders begins to happen: "The murders begin to describe sort of a history of Gotham in a way that reinforces what he knows about Gotham, but it opens up a whole new world of corruption that goes much farther."
Without being an actual origin story, Reeves added, the movie "ends up touching on his origins, so that as he starts to describe this epic history of corruption in Gotham, you start to understand, 'Well, where did my family sit in that?' In that sense, I think all that is a way to take a story that is a detective story, a mystery, action, all that kind of stuff, but at the end of it, it's incredibly personal for him."
As for the other characters, which include several members of Batman's infamous rogues gallery, Reeves was equally effusive: "Paul Dano plays a version of the Riddler that no one has ever seen before...he's such an incredibly creative actor and I think what he is doing is going to blow people's minds."
On Zoe Kravitz's portrayal of Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Reeves remarked, "You've never seen what she's doing but it touches on all these iconic things that people know from the comics."
The director remarked that the movie delves "in a weird way" into the origins of a lot of the rogues gallery, explaining, "Selina isn't Catwoman yet -- that's actually part of the journey. (Oswald Cobblepot, played by Colin Farrell) is not actually the kingpin he's going to become yet -- in fact he doesn't like being called the Penguin. Riddler is just emerging for the first time."
Reeves also cited the new iterations of Alfred (Andy Serkis), Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and mob boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), adding, "How all these characters connect for me was one of the challenges but one of the exciting things about the creation of the story."
Among the other tidbits that Reeves revealed was that the world of The Batman will intersect with the new Gotham-based TV series he is developing with Terence Winter (The Sopranos).
"For me the idea of this story was a story of Gotham, which has this depth of corruption, and the idea that we could go deeper into an aspect of it," Reeves said. "Which in this case is the corrupt police department and the corrupt inner workings of the city. We go back to year one and it's the beginning, the emergence, the first appearance of this masked vigilante that is unsettling the city and we see the story from the point of view of these corrupt cops."
During the rest of his time on the Hall of Heroes virtual stage, Reeves cited the importance of Gotham City and its history to the movie's plot, touched on filming parts of it in Liverpool (to "create a version you haven't seen before") and also hinted at how the people of Gotham perceived the Bat at this stage in his career ("they're afraid of him frankly").
He also flagged classic 1970's crime films such as Taxi Driver, The French Connection, and Chinatown as touchstones for this version of the Batman canon, and concluded by saying that it's an "incredible thing" to be one of the small group of filmmakers given the chance to stamp his vision on one of pop culture's most legendary figures.
"When you look at the comics, there are so many iterations of Batman," Reeves said. "To me that's one of the joys of being in the comics world, is to try and say, 'Hey, what can we do to put our kind of spin on this, so that people can find a new way of looking at that character that they love?'"
The Batman is slated to swoop into theaters Oct. 1, 2021.