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'The Batman': Everything you need to know about Matt Reeves' Dark Knight Reboot
Riddle me this, riddle me that... who can't wait to see the next Bat?
Look! Up in the rooftops! It's vengeance! It's the night! ... IT'S BATMAN! DC's Caped Crusader is just a few weeks away from his highly-anticipated return to the big screen in The Batman.
Separated from the complicated baggage of the DCEU, this latest reboot from director Matt Reeves will present an entirely new take on the Dark Knight. There was just no way Reeves — who co-wrote the screenplay and serves as a producer — would agree to do it if the project ended up treading familiar Bat-territory.
Something we haven't really seen before is a young, inexperienced, and emotionally-fractured Bruce Wayne. A hero still in his "Year Two" phase, one who doesn't have the capacity (or motivation) to play the charismatic playboy billionaire audiences have come to associate with the character. He'd much rather hide away in his dusty old mansion — giving his loyal butler the cold shoulder and beating the pulp out of bad guys — than lead any semblance of a normal life.
"He's ... got that Kurt Cobain thing, where he looks like a rock star, but you also feel like he could be a recluse," Reeves told Empire Magazine. "When I write, I listen to music and as I was writing the first act, I put on Nirvana's 'Something In The Way.' That's when it came to me that, rather than make Bruce Wayne the playboy version we've seen before, there's another version who had gone through a great tragedy and become a recluse ... The idea of this fictionalized version of Kurt Cobain being in this kind of decaying manor."
This incarnation of Master Wayne is played by Tenet's Robert Pattinson, who attempted — and failed — to land the same role for Christopher Nolan's trilogy, which ended up going with Christian Bale. Fate is a little funny that way. For more fun facts and other need-to-know tidbits about The Batman before it opens in early March, head below...
How to watch
Moving away from the controversial hybrid release model the studio utilized for the entirety of 2021, Warner Bros. is now headed back to the traditional theatrical strategy of the pre-pandemic era. To that end, The Batman will exclusively play in theaters across the globe with no day-and-date options to stream online for at least 46 days (for more info on that, keep reading). While the pandemic has continued to wreak havoc at the box office, Sony and Marvel Studios proved that the right blockbuster can get butts in seats, no matter what viral variant is raging through the population. It's probably not far-fetched to assume that WB hopes to ride Spider-Man: No Way Home's wave of success to more record-breaking ticket sales. Viewers can start reserving seats for The Batman on Thursday, Feb. 10.
When does the movie come out?
The Batman arrives in theaters everywhere Friday, March 4 — nearly two years after its intended release date of June 25, 2021. Like a slew of other big-budget Hollywood tentpoles, the high-profile project became a casualty of the COVID-19 health crisis.
Filming had barely gotten underway in the U.K. when all live-action productions were forced to shut down in March of 2020. Reeves wasn't too bothered by this turn of events and used the lockdown as a chance to refine the finished product.
"It’s not a fully-formed idea yet, remember, because we haven’t finished the movie," the director said in April of 2020 when only a quarter of the movie had been shot. "The good thing about moviemaking is [that] it's an evolution and it changes. It changes on a day-to-day basis. Things are thrown up in front of you that possibly change the way stuff looks or feels."
Due to the pandemic hiatus, WB was forced to postpone the release to October 2021. That window was still in play when Reeves shared the very first teaser trailer at the first edition of DC FanDome in August 2020. Principal photography resumed the following month, but stalled almost immediately when Pattinson tested positive for COVID. Fortunately, the actor made a full recovery and returned to set not long after, but all the numerous setbacks once again forced the studio's hand in pushing The Batman to March of 2022.
Production finally wrapped in March of 2021.
Is it set in the DCEU?
The answer to that question is a big fat nooope. The Batman is, for all intents and purposes, a fresh reboot of the Dark Knight that takes place in its own separate universe and continuity. With that said, Warner Bros. and DC Films will have the option for potential crossover events after The Flash rips the multiverse wide open in early November. For the time being, though, Pattinson's incarnation of Bruce Wayne exists beyond the established confines of the DC Extended Universe.
When Reeves was first asked to direct the movie, WB had an existing script in development for the previous Batman actor, Ben Affleck, to direct and star in the feature. Instead, his final turn as Bruce Wayne will be in Barry Allen's standalone adventure.
“I read a script that they had that was a totally valid take on the movie," Reeves recalled during a recent conversation with Esquire. "It was very action-driven. It was very deeply connected to the DCEU, with other major characters from other movies and other comics popping up. I just knew that when I read it, this particular script was not the way I’d want to do it."
He initially turned down the offer, stating: "'Look, I think maybe I’m not the person for this.' And I explained to them why I love this character. I told them that there have been so many great movies, but if I were to do this, I’d have to make it personal, so that I understood what I was going to do with it, so that I know where to put the camera, so that I know what to tell the actors, so that I know what the story should be. This take, I told them, pointing at the script, is a totally valid and exciting take. It is almost James Bond-ian, but it wasn’t something that I quite related to."
The Dark Knight Rises... again
Co-written by Reeves and Peter Craig (Mattson Tomlin was previously credited as a screenwriter, but his name has since been removed from marketing materials), The Batman takes place in the early days of Bruce Wayne's career as the titular vigilante. Inspired by comics like Frank Miller's Year One and the dark nihilism of David Fincher's Seven, the movie foregoes the character's tragic origin story we've seen a million times, preferring to lean into Batman's comic book reputation as the world's greatest detective.
"It’s very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale," Reeves — who also found himself inspired by classic '70s thrillers like Chinatown and All the President's Men — remarked in 2019 before casting had even begun. "It’s told very squarely on his shoulders, and I hope it’s going to be a story that will be thrilling but also emotional. It’s more Batman in his detective mode than we’ve seen in the films. The comics have a history of that. He’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, and that’s not necessarily been a part of what the movies have been. I’d love this to be one where when we go on that journey of tracking down the criminals and trying to solve a crime, it’s going to allow his character to have an arc so that he can go through a transformation."
Brutal and unrefined in his crime-fighting craft, Batman faces his greatest threat so far in the form of the Edward Nashton, aka the Riddler (Paul Dano), a Zodiac-esque killer who loves to leave behind little brain-teasers at the scene of each crime. His goal? To expose the rampant corruption in Gotham that flows from Mayor Don Mitchell Jr. (Rupert Penry-Jones) all the way down to up-and-coming crime lord Oswald "Oz" Cobblepot (Colin Farrell).
"I was surprised by it and, frankly, thought it was better than it had any right to be," Dano admitted. "As well as making contact with the universe, the archetype, the world, the fans, Matt's delivering something that comes from a real place of gut and heart and psychology."
You can get a taste for the Riddler's depraved antics in a first-look scene right here.
If he wants to stop the Riddler's reign of terror, Batman must ally himself with minor offenders — like Selina Kyle's Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) — and lean on the incorruptible officers of the Gotham City Police Department like Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright).
John Turturro (Carmine Falcone), Peter Sarsgaard (Gotham DA, Gil Colson), Jayme Lawson, (Gotham mayoral hopeful, Bella Reál), and Andy Serkis (Alfred Pennyworth) round out the principal cast.
It is also rumored that Eternals star Barry Keoghan will appear as the Joker.
Michael Giacchino — who previously worked with Reeves on Cloverfield, Let Me In, and the last two Planet of the Apes films — is the composer.
"What I’m really looking forward to is just working with Matt Reeves again to come up with a unique and different idea of what this character can be," the Oscar-winner exclusively told SYFY WIRE in 2019 before production started. "We’ve had different generations over the years, and I’ve enjoyed every single one of them. It’ll be just fun to kind of do our version of it and to have a chance to say how we feel about that and how we feel about what he is — what he means to us as filmmakers. That’s what I’m looking forward to most of all."
You can listen to his themes for Batman and the Riddler below:
Longest Batman ever
The Batman will run for a whopping total of 2 hours and 55 minutes, including end credits. (But not including trailers.) That makes it the longest feature-length Batman project ever made, as well as the second-longest comic book film released in theaters. Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame still holds the top honor at 3 hours and 2 minutes.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, some early test screenings stretched across four hours. Can you even imagine? Who knows? Maybe we'll get to see that extended director's cut on the physical home release. Speaking of watching the film at home, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar let slip that the studio plans to release The Batman on HBO Max a mere 46 days after it opens in theaters.
"Think about when movies would show up on HBO Max or HBO eight to nine months after [their] theatrical premiere. The Batman's gonna show up on Day 46 on HBO Max," he said on the Recode Media podcast. "That is a huge change from where things were in 2018, 2017, 2016. I feel really, really good knowing that The Batman and Black Adam and The Flash and Elvis — and a whole host of other movies — are literally gonna be showing up on Day 46 on HBO Max in a variety of territories all over the world. That is a very, very big change that I don't think people appreciate and I feel really good about it."
Two television spinoffs — one centered around the Gotham PD and one centered around the Penguin — are currently in active development at HBO Max. And what of the reboot's prospects in theaters? Is another trilogy in the works? Well, that all depends on box office returns, but Pattinson is ready if the greenlight for subsequent films is handed down.
"I've made a kind of map for where Bruce's psychology would grow over two more movies," the actor told Empire for the magazine's February 2022 issue. "I would love to do it."