We’ve seen many versions of Bruce Wayne and Batman over the past 80 years, but Robert Pattinson’s take on the iconic DC characters in The Batman is perhaps the coolest to date.
“I wanted to do a new and definitive version of Bruce Wayne because I felt like we‘d seen him as the playboy who drives the Maseratis and that kind of stuff,“ Matt Reeves, The Batman‘s director/writer/producer, tells STACK.
“So instead I thought, ‘What if he‘s more like someone who is from the lineage of royalty, where something tragic had happened to some of the major figureheads of the family and he was the child, living in the wake of that and had kind of become a recluse, that people would look at as some sort of screw-up; somebody who had maybe become a drug addict; he‘s hiding away somewhere.
“And he was that guy who, after what had happened to his parents, could never recover, and you would imagine that he was some kind of addict, and I thought, well he is a drug addict, but the drug that he is addicted to is being Batman.
“So then I started thinking of a rock star like Kurt Cobain and how the idea of being addicted to your work and being that haunted guy inside a beautiful old kind of Wayne Manor with your amplifier in the living room and you‘re just kinda building stuff and, for some reason, that was the flip-side of Batman that I also saw in Rob.
“I thought he had that Cobain-like handsomeness and that Cobain-like sensitivity, and it was a mix of all those things,“ he says.
Of the many portrayals of Batman – including Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck – Pattinson‘s certainly does seem the coolest.
Reeves agrees: “I think he‘s cool, not because he‘s Batman but the fact of his being a self-destructive guy which is so appealing to watch because you‘re looking at him thinking, ‘Oh my God, he‘s right on the edge‘. He‘s tragic but there‘s another part of him that you admire because he pushes himself to such incredible limits.“
Following the fan hysteria that followed him throughout the Twilight franchise, Pattinson took a break from big budget films, diving into the indie movie world until his flashy role in Christopher Nolan‘s Tenet signalled he was ready to play again.
When we ask why now was the right time for him, Pattinson says, “Every part I‘ve chosen, there‘s always something kinda scary – like you‘re going after certain feelings or sensations that you haven‘t really felt before and, with Batman, there‘s just something so conflicted and complicated about him. I don‘t think I would have been able to fully commit to a character who‘s just purely heroic.“
Perhaps naively, he says he wasn‘t even thinking about the broader implications of being in such an enormous movie when he first began talking to Reeves.
“I was just having fun talking to him about the character. Then when I saw some images of how he wanted to present Gotham and how he wanted to interpret the character, it just felt really appealing. I was quite surprised how it even came together because I was pretty happy playing little weirdos, so then I thought, ‘I‘ll just make Batman into one of those!”
Batman‘s enthusiastic fan base was certainly a motivating factor for the actor.
“The level of anticipation drives your adrenaline, especially with a really long shoot like this. Batman‘s fan base is very alive and vocal – and it‘s scary in some ways, but not in the conventional way of really having to sell people something. Although the converse side is that they can really hate you after the film comes out,“ he laughs.
Synonymous with the Planet of the Apes franchise, Reeves was curious to embark upon his own journey into the Batman canon, taking the Dark Knight back to his earliest roots.
“Batman started as a detective,“ he explains, “so to find a way to go back to that, to strip away the fantasy aspect of a DC superhero but to still have him be aspirational, was a really exciting idea. We wanted to make him someone whose real superpower is that he will endure anything to do what he has to do.”
• The Batman is in cinemas now