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SYFY WIRE The Batman

DC FanDome: 3 ways 'The Batman' seems to upend our notion of Gotham & the Caped Crusader

By Josh Weiss
The Batman trailer 2

Our return to Gotham City is assured, people! The Batman, Warner Bros. and DC Films' latest big screen revival of the character, made its looming presence known at DC FanDome with the premiere of a new official trailer — and we're taking a look at what's changed since all the other Bat-movies.

Following a number of pandemic-related setbacks (including the project's main star, Robert Pattinson, contracting COVID-19), the comic book film hailing from director and co-writer Matt Reeves is gearing up for a wide theatrical release on March 4, 2022.

That's less than six months away, in case you were wondering! Since this is the third Batman reboot in less than two decades, Reeves needed to do something different with the character and the world around him. How can he achieve that? Head below for three paradigm-shifting elements we noticed in the new trailer.

The darkest of knights

The Batman Still

Batman has always been a brooding detective figure, but Reeves clearly wants to dial that aspect of the character up to 11 in this film. The filmmaker's rainy and neon-soaked interpretation of Gotham City evokes the dreary nihilism of David Fincher's 1995 neo-noir masterpiece: S7ven.

And just like Detectives Mills and Somerset, Bruce Wayne is on the trail of a sadistic serial killer, whose only motivation seems to be the joy of homicide for homicide's sake. With that said, the maniacs should be quaking in their bloody boots because this younger, more inexperienced Dark Knight (inspired by the Year One comic) is both headstrong and brutal without much to lose. He doesn't see the Bat-signal as a symbol of hope, but as "a warning" to miscreants. Moreover, when someone asks who he is, Batman answers with one word: "Vengeance."

"He doesn't have as much control over his personality," Pattinson remarked during a FanDome conversation with Reeves and Zoë Kravitz (Selina Kyle/Catwoman). "The delineation between when he's Batman and when he's Bruce is not so clear. In other iterations of it, he really knows what he's doing when he's putting on the cowl. I really liked this idea of, 'It's a little bit out of control. He hasn't completely defined what Batman is.' He gets lost in it. When he's putting it on every night, he's not sleeping, and he's becoming this odd creature."

"It’s very much a point-of-view-driven, noir Batman tale. 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," Reeves said of his vision for the project during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in early 2019. "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."

Let's just hope the story doesn't end with Selina Kyle's head in a cardboard box.

New twists on old favorites

The Batman catwoman 1

The trailer isn't shy about setting the stage for all the classic rogues we'll see in the movie. Riddler (Paul Dano), Penguin (Colin Farrell), and Catwoman (Kravitz) are all present and accounted for, albeit with a few twists on what we've seen from them in past depictions.

"I obviously understand the gravity of a character like this and what she means to so many people," Kravitz said. "But what felt really important was to focus on the story that we're telling in this moment and try and create a real human being. I don't want her to be an idea. I want her to be a real human being in a real situation in a real city trying to survive and reacting to her own pain and her history. I really, really focused on this particular story and this particular moment in this woman's life."

"It was about trying to find a way to ground her, so that she felt she had an emotional journey that made sense for who she was," Reeves continued. "That ended up being Selina Kyle, but was one that we hadn't seen before and yet [in] some ways, it does connect to the comics. That's the thing, which will be fun to share with an audience, is that there are a lot of iconic Selina Kyle aspects to the story, but I don't think any version of any of the Batman stories that have done Selina stuff have done it in this way."

Riddler, on the other hand, seems to be occupying a Hannibal Lecter-esque role, wherein he aids Batman's investigation from prison. “There’s something fun there in my character and in all the characters," Dano told The Playlist last May. "It’s the kind of movie that we’re just desperate to share on the big screen in a big way. So, I hope we all figure this [coronavirus situation] out and get excited to see a Batman movie. It will be worth it. It’s going to be really cool.”

And then there's Penguin. Farrell's portrayal of Oswald Cobblepot looks as though it has more in common with a crazed mafia boss from New York City than that of a creepy dude obsessed with flightless birds. Very different from Danny DeVito's borderline monstrous take on the tophat-wearing villain in Batman Returns.

"The creation of it, the aesthetic of the character, has been fun and I really am so excited to get back and explore it," Farrell said amidst the production hiatus caused by the pandemic. "And I haven’t got that much to do. I have a certain amount in the film. I am not all over it by any means. But there are a couple of some tasty scenes I have in it and my creation and I can’t wait to get back. Yeah, I totally feel like it is something that I have not had the opportunity to explore before. It feels original and fun. But I am only at the start of the journey so I can’t wait to get back and really get into it."

A Batmobile worthy of Dominic Torretto

Batmobile The Batman trailer

You can't have the Caped Crusader without his crime-busting hot rod. It's just the natural order of things. But just like the villains, the new Batmobile flips the script on us. After two bulky iterations of the iconic vehicle in the Christopher Nolan trilogy and the Zack Snyder films, Reeves opts for a sleeker, street-level design and rocket booster that wouldn't feel out of place in one of the recent Fast & Furious movies. One fan on Twitter described the car's aesthetic as "scaled-back, yet souped-up." Others drew comparisons to the Batmobile created for the 1960s TV show with Adam West.

"That, of course, that part is a dream. I mean, you know, the idea of getting to do your own version of the Batmobile, you’re just kind of like, 'Uh, what?' That part is the incredible candy, right? Like, the telling of a story is the hard work, and trying to make sure that you’re doing the right thing," Reeves said at last year's DC FanDome, where the movie dropped its first teaser trailer (despite the fact that filming wasn't even close to being finished at the time). "And then when you get to dive into the idea of this car, that again feels connected to this version of the character, a grounded version of the character — this is something that he built, and to try and look at those kind of rough scenes and imagine how that works."

Written by Reeves and Mattson Tomlin, The Batman opens exclusively in theaters on March 4, 2022.

Watch the full FanDome 2021 livestream below: