“What are you?” It’s a question posed to any self-respecting Batman in his first movie, and it’s one that always gets the same answer. “I’m Batman.” That’s the iconic bit Michael Keaton whispered in Batman (1989), and Christian Bale growled in Batman Begins (2005), each arriving in a movie that stunned audiences in its day. Yet those moments seem like child’s play when compared to Matt Reeves’ The Batman, a film that, despite only being 25 percent filmed, shocked fans during this weekend’s DC FanDome.
When Robert Pattinson’s Batman is asked “what the hell are you supposed to be?” he responds with a brutal, almost sadistic beating of the other party. Using the kind of violence that would be deemed excessive force if he were in blue instead of black, the Batman pummels the man into a puddle before gasping, almost to his own surprise, “I’m vengeance.”
This isn’t your father’s Batman. It isn’t even your Batman from five years ago.
Like new iterations before it, Reeves and Pattinson’s interpretation of Bruce Wayne crawls deeper into the abyss and the crime dramas it emulates, finding something more grotesque and unsettling than we’ve previously known… which makes it irresistible to adult comic book fans. Whereas Christopher Nolan had grand success with his epic interpretation of Batman, pulling as much from the sweeping moviemaking of David Lean as he did the chilly criminality of Michael Mann’s Heat, Reeves appears to be diving into something decidedly grittier and more unsettling. The Riddler-based crime scene at the beginning of the trailer, where a riddle accompanies a presumably mutilated corpse, recalls the neo noir fatalism of David Fincher’s Seven.