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Bruce Wayne is no ‘playboy’ in The Batman’s crime-plagued Gotham, says Robert Pattinson
Sometimes, it’s just too dark to party.
Gotham City has always been a dangerous place in the movies. It’s usually night there, and when it’s daytime, there’s a grey, hazy pall in the sky that overcasts all the criminal doings below. But even by that standard, DC's new version of Gotham that we’ll be getting in The Batman sounds like an absolute town without pity: The kind of dark city where even a billionaire like Bruce Wayne isn’t in the mood to live it up.
That’s one of the pre-release takeaways star Robert Pattinson recently shared with GQ ahead of the The Batman’s debut in theaters next month. Director Matt Reeves’ vision of Bruce Wayne’s hometown sounds gritty and cynical; Gotham is a place where the average person on the street just expects the worst to happen. And though he doesn’t make a direct connection himself, Pattinson’s description bears some resemblance to the spiraling, lawless urban hellscape fans glimpsed in 2019’s Joker.
“Like, it’s two years into it, and the crime has gotten worse since Bruce started being Batman. The people of Gotham think that he’s just another symptom of how s**t everything is,” Pattinson explained. “There’s this scene where he’s beating everyone up on this train platform, and I just love that there’s a bit in the script where the guy he’s saving is also just like: Ahh! It’s worse! You’re either being mugged by some gang members, or a monster comes and, like, f***ing beats everybody up! The guy has no idea that Batman’s come to save him. It just looks like this werewolf.”
With the whole town stuck in the gutter, it’s not exactly the kind of place that makes you want to go out and party — right? Pattinson hinted that his Bruce Wayne won’t be playing in billionaire bling when he’s out of of costume: In this version of Gotham, there’s just no space in his head for the kind of after-hours shenanigans we’ve come to expect from previous Batman films. Complicating things further, Pattinson’s hero has issues of his own — issues that transform being Batman from the upward hero’s journey we’ve seen in past movies into something a little more…unhealthy.
“He doesn’t have a playboy persona at all, so he’s kind of a weirdo as Bruce and a weirdo as Batman, and I kept thinking there’s a more nihilistic slant to it,” Pattinson said. “’Cause, normally, in all the other movies, Bruce goes away, trains, and returns to Gotham believing in himself, thinking, 'I’m gonna change things here.' But in this, it’s sort of implied that he’s had a bit of a breakdown. But this thing he’s doing, it’s not even working.
“…All the other stories say the death of his parents is why Bruce becomes Batman, but I was trying to break that down in what I thought was a real way, instead of trying to rationalize it. He’s created this intricate construction for years and years and years, which has culminated in this Batman persona. But it’s not like a healthy thing that he’s done…Almost like a drug addiction.”
That doesn’t mean the Dark Knight is barreling toward an anti-hero’s end, though. The point of all the gloom and doom, said Pattinson, is to frame that elusive kernel of optimism that separates the superhero good guys from the villains. “It’s kind of about him trying to find some element of hope, in himself, and not just the city,” he said. “Normally, Bruce never questions his own ability; he questions the city’s ability to change. But I mean, it’s kind of such an insane thing to do: 'The only way I can live is to dress up as a bat.'”
Catch Pattinson alongside costars Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, Zoë Kravitz, Andy Serkis, John Turturro, Jeffery Wright, and more when The Batman descends on theaters beginning March 4.