Director Matt Reeves was on hand at August 22nd's DC FanDome: Hall of Heroes virtual event, to deliver the first look at his upcoming Dark Knight reboot film The Batman. Fans were dazzled by the new footage, the first since a costume test video Reeves made public months ago, and a few still images of the film’s star Robert Pattinson in the bat-costume standing beside the Batmobile.
The Batman will reboot the Batman live-action cinematic franchise next year when it releases, and will not be set in the same world as any previous DC movies so far. Whether or not other superheroes already exist somewhere within the new world of this film remains to be seen, but certainly not any iterations we’ve seen so far.
Before we go any further, check out the first footage reveal from The Batman…
This is a second-year Batman, in a world where many of the so-called “freak” villains have already established themselves in Gotham City, or are in the process of doing so. It reminds me of the Nolanverse, if it were pushed closer to the line between realism and more fantastical elements, something many of us longed to see if the world of Nolan’s Batman had continued for more sequels.
The noir inspiration and aesthetic seep off every image in this footage, a dark detective tale in the best tradition of the most iconic stories about these characters — not only Batman himself, but also his villains. I continue to get strong vibes reminiscent of comic book stories including Batman: Year Zero, The Long Halloween, Dark Victory, and even touches of Batman: Year One. Reeves himself specifically singled out Darwyn Cooke’s comic book story Ego as a big influence for Bruce’s arc and portrayal.
The violence and action are intense, grounded, and once again go beyond what I was hopeful we’d get to see. This is Batman in his prime, but not just as a fighter — he’s also a detective, and those noir elements come through in the crime story we see shaping up for The Batman as well.
Reeves is building a brand new corner of the DC Universe, with a Batman in a world we’ve not seen on film before and which isn’t shared by any of the other existing DC superhero film franchises. Reeves is expanding that bat-world and the characters who reside within it, for a return to a more grounded-in-realism approach to the Caped Crusader.
This still exists within the larger DC multiverse in which all of DC projects technically exist, so the potential for crossover with the other films remains. However, I strongly suspect that despite the potential for this new Batman to appear alongside Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and other existing DCEU on-screen heroes, I think Reeves’ world will remain separate while the rest of the DCEU plays out. That way, once those franchises come to their conclusions (as will inevitably happen after a few more sequels), Batman’s world can serve as the foundation for a new fully rebooted DCEU.
I am both a huge fan of the DCEU so far — and of Zack Snyder’s vision for it — and of Matt Reeves’ entire filmography and his Batman projects. He was my choice to take over the Batman franchise after Ben Affleck left, a point I stressed for a long time before Affleck even departed, and I am more thrilled than ever now that I’ve seen footage of his vision for the new Batman.
A fully fleshed-out bat-world and bat-family for the modern cinematic age, as the start of a whole new world of live-action DC, will be a dream come true for Batman fans.
The cast includes Robert Pattinson as our hero Bruce Wayne/Batman, Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, Andy Serkis as Alfred, Paul Dano as the Riddler, Colin Farrell as the Penguin, Jayme Lawson as Bella Reál, Peter Sarsgaard as Gil Colson, and John Turturro as Carmine Falcone.
It’s a remarkable cast, and with Reeves at the helm I am exceedingly confident in the outcome. It was 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes that instantly convinced me Reeves should make Batman movies, and The Batman is shaping up better than I could’ve hoped or imagined.
Besides the reveal of footage, Reeves’ panel included great deal of discussion about his plans for the film, as well as taking questions from fans.
Reeves talked a lot about what his Batman will be like, and where we find the character at the start of this tale. Batman is still figuring out how to have the effect he wants to have in Gotham, as a set of murders take place that take him on a journey to unlock mysteries from Gotham’s past to solve the mystery in its present.
The film is, Reeves says, sort of an origin tale for the villains who are in early stages of who they will eventually become. In this way, as I’ve said from the start a few years ago covering the film, it will have origin elements but not Batman’s own literal origin itself.
Reeves describes it as a snowball building and building as it goes, a perfect way to imagine the escalation and inevitable collisions between all of these powerful characters’ arcs.
Batman is feared and somewhat disliked even by many people in Gotham, as a violent vigilante and source of uncertainty because he’s not having the impact he intended — instead of stopping the out of control crime in Gotham, it’s continued and gotten crazier with the arrival of more freaks.
Reeves took questions from fans, and as I’ve done in other coverage today I’ll let you explore the extended conversation the filmmaker has to address the various good questions sent in by fans, expanding our understanding of his approach to the characters world.
What is clear is, Reeves isn’t just creating a world for a film — he’s creating a world for an ongoing, expanding film that will snowball and build momentum just like the story and arcs in The Batman.
Reeves will also produce the upcoming Gotham PD series for HBO Max, set in his Batman film’s world and exploring the street view of the police corruption and those resisting it while they battle the freaks taking over their city.
I hope you had as much fun with DC FanDome as I did, both as a fan and while bringing you these updates all day long. Stay safe and mask up, superfans!
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