With just 25% of the movie reportedly shot, it’s impressive how well director Matt Reeves’ The Batman trailer, revealed this weekend at the virtual DC FanDome convention, manages to establish its tone in just two and a half minutes of footage.
We get a peek at the Batcave (looks a lot like a garage, not high-tech at all). We get to see Batman’s suit (think peaked Eric Cantona-style collars, forged in steel). We even get a glimpse of the Batmobile (with the new film set within the early years of Bat’s career, the Caped Crusader’s get-around is more of a stock car than the sleek tank we’ve come to know). More important is the feeling Reeves’ trail leaves us with come its conclusion. After Ben Affleck’s Batman cosplay these last few years, it seems like we’re getting a more creepy, almost noir-like mystery featuring Batman as The World’s Greatest Detective.
Maybe it’s the moribund drawl of Nirvana’s ‘Something In The Way’. Maybe it’s that this dark, dank trailer looks more like a Se7en sequel than a superhero movie. Or maybe it’s Paul Dano’s Riddler taking on the role of big baddie (think the Zodiac killer rather than Jim Carey’s cartoonish 1995 take on the character). Reeves himself has described his Batman as a “noir-driven, detective version of Batman”, with key influences coming from Jack Nicholson’s Chinatown and The French Connection.
And yet there’s still there’s more to unpack. Here’s five key takeaways from the trailer…
The Riddler is R-Batz’ big baddie
Gotham’s arch trickster isn’t known for wearing a mask and glasses, and yet the sinister Riddler showcased in the trailer never shows his face. This, remember, is a character that’s been around since 1948. He’s never really had a refresh, and the green bowler hat of comic book lore would sit uncomfortably in The Batman‘s miserable world.
The best Batman villains are concerned with two things. Extracting revenge (Hush, Penguin) or exposing hypocrisy (Joker, Hugo Strange). The Riddler? He’s down with both. The trailer suggests a lie – or a buried secret connected to Batman or the Wayne family (a note at the end informs Bats “You are part of this”) – is what drives his motivations to kill (and then daub riddles on his victims’ faces).
Could The Riddler know Bruce Wayne’s identity? Or maybe it’s something more seismic like Joker’s implication that Batman had a bastard brother? Here’s a thing; the note inside the green envelope, presumably from Riddler, opened by Batman, with a coded message at the bottom? Seattle game designer Mike Selinker has cracked it already. It says, “He lies still” apparently…
Zoe Kravitz’ Catwoman and Batman might be enemies
Zoe Kravitz played Selina Kyle in 2017’s The Lego Batman Movie and we already knew she’d be back for The Batman. What we didn’t know was quite what the relationship the master thief would have with Batman. The trailer gives us a big clue, in depicting the two of them having a barney.
Catwoman has long been portrayed as an anti-hero. Occasionally as a helpful associate of Wayne’s. Sometimes even a lover. Nothing tells us any of these things will shape the character in The Batman. And yet this being a film about both character’s early days, it makes sense that the righteous Batman and the opportunistic Catwoman would start their association with a scrap.
Commissioner Peter Savage is played by Trevor from EastEnders
If, like me, you found yourselves shrieking: ‘That’s Trevor from EastEnders! And he’s got his cock out!’ during the Tula coalminers scene in last year’s HBO mini-series Chernobyl, you might be excited to learn that Albert Square’s former big bad – played by Alex Ferns – makes an appearance too. Internet buzz suggests he may be the film’s version of Commissioner Loeb, the corrupt predecessor to Commissioner Gordon (played here, for the first time by a Black actor, Jeffrey Wright).
The Loeb character was introduced by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli in the 1987 story arc, Batman: Year One and will probably feature in the already announced Gotham City Police Department centric HBO spin-off series.
“The idea of this story in which Gotham has this sort of depth of corruption,” explained Matt Reeves at FanDome. “And then the idea that we could do a series that would go deeper into an aspect of it, which in this case is the corrupt police department and the corrupt inner workings of the city.”
Incidentally, later in the trailer there’s a clip of the GCPD shooting at Batman, as he uses his Batclaw to make a hasty retreat up a stairwell. We’re saying Ridder set him up. You heard it here first.
This is the most emo Batman yet
When he was a young boy, Bruce Wayne’s father, Thomas, didn’t take him to the city, to see a marching band… he actually took him to the Monarch Theatre to see the film Footlight Frenzy, before he and wife Martha were killed by Jack Napier, in the alley at Pearl and Phillips Street’s, behind the theatre. But even so, Robert Pattinson’s take on the Dark Knight looks to be the most emo interpretation of the character yet.
Smudged kohl eyes. That angular greasy fringe. We can’t be the only ones who thought Pattinson looked more like the late Brandon Lee’s titular role in 1994’s The Crow than the suave gentleman inside the suit portrayed by Christian Bale in the Christopher Nolan movies.
Colin Farrell is unrecognisable as the Penguin
With The Batman due October 2021, it’s unfeasible anyone other than Colin Farrell – here unrecognisable as a pre-Penguin Oswald Cobblepott – takes home the Best Make Up Award. Total transformation. We’re excited about Farrell’s casting. Last time the Irish actor appeared in a superhero movie, 2003’s mega-maligned Daredevil, as the villainous Bullseye, he was the film’s saving grace. Him as the scarred, deranged Penguin should be quite the sight.