Everything We Know About Robert Pattinson's Noir Detective The Batman Trilogy
Having been taken on by the likes of Christian Bale and Michael Keaton, there are few superhero characters as iconic as Batman.
After disappointing reactions to the Batman vs Superman and Justice League films helmed by Zack Snyder, Warner Bros decided a change of direction was in order. Though Affleck penned a script and was due to direct and star in 2021's The Batman, he then walked away from the project entirely.
Now, after a long wait to find out who would be taking on the leading role, firmer details are beginning to come to light about what we can expect from the next chapter of Gotham's resident hero. Here's what we know so far:
Who is in the cast?
The news that Affleck was hanging up his kevlar suit prompted debate about who would replace him. Would it be Hollywood heartthrob in the making Timothée Chalamet? Or perhaps a freed-from-Game of Thrones Kit Harington?
In May, it was confirmed that Robert Pattinson would take on the role of the caped crusader, a great move we think, and one that gives Pattinson the chance to make a more mainstream film after recent arthouse hits like Claire Denis' High Life.
Describing the reaction to his casting as "less vitriolic than I was expecting," Pattinson himself seemed genuinely deeply surprised to have won the role when Esquire asked him about it. "It's kind of insane," Pattinson told us this month. "I was so far away from ever thinking it was a realistic prospect. I literally do not understand how I’ve got it, at all."
So what will he do with Bruce Wayne? We got a little bit more insight from Pattinson in mid-October. "He's a complicated character," he told the New York Times. "I don’t think I could ever play a real hero — there's always got to be something a little bit wrong. I think it’s because one of my eyes is smaller than the other one."
Pattinson added that Batman is a "dope" character: "His morality is a little bit off. He's not the golden boy, unlike almost every other comic-book character. There is a simplicity to his worldview, but where it sits is strange, which allows you to have more scope with the character."
Former Batman Christian Bale gave the casting two Bat-thumbs-up. "Good choice! He's interesting," Bale told Variety in September. "I'm sure he'll come up with something real interesting."
Zoë Kravitz of Big Little Lies and Mad Max: Fury Road, will be playing Catwoman—a role she also voiced in The Lego Batman Movie—and Jeffrey Wright will star as Commissioner Jim Gordon. You'll know him as Felix Leiter from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. That role reportedly nearly went to Mahershala Ali, but he decided, in the end, to make a Blade reboot instead.
According to Variety, Andy Serkis and Colin Farrell are in talks to join the project as Alfred Pennyworth and The Penguin respectively.
Screen Rant goes one further, reporting that Serkis’ role as the Wayne Family butler is all but confirmed. At 55 years young, it looks like we’ll be seeing a decidedly more fresh-faced Alfred in comparison to Michael Caine and Michael Gough’s venerable takes on the character. That is unless he undergoes a CGI-transformation. It is Andy Serkis, after all. He can’t get enough of it.
The move would see Serkis defect from Marvel to DC, having played arms dealer Ulysses Klaue in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Black Panther. He’s previously worked with director Matt Reeves in his celebrated Planet of the Apes reboots.
Meanwhile, Colin Farrell’s take on Oswald Cobblepot would presumably look very different from Danny Devito’s celebrated portrayal, too. For one thing, he isn’t 4 ft 10. But beyond that, the campy mobster has always been a difficult fit for the dark reimagining of Batman, with his bullet-spraying umbrella and Bullingdon Club clobber, and hasn’t featured in a live-action film for 27 years.
The news has come as a surprise to some. Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen were said to be in talks to play The Penguin, suggesting that the character will provide some light relief to the noir setting. But anyone who’s seen In Bruges or Horrible Bosses will know that Farrell has comic chops.
He also has comic book movie experience, playing supervillain Bullseye in Ben Affleck’s much-derided 2003 box office bomb Daredevil. Commenting on his performance back in the day, he told CBR: “I thought I was [going over the top] every day and I saw the film and I'm like, ‘Oh my God, I'm ridiculous.’” Watch a clip from the film below, which plays out like a Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor revenge fantasy.
There were reports in September that Jonah Hill was also in talks to play the Riddler, but the role has ended up going to Paul Dano. Suicide Squad's Jared Leto has said that he would like to reprise his role as the Joker, though whether anyone else would like him to is another question.
Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike) was confirmed to play assassin Deathstroke in the Affleck-fronted iteration of the film too. However, it's unclear whether he will now star in a separate spin-off instead.
How many films will there be?
Moving back toward the celebrated Christopher Nolan Batman franchise, it has been confirmed that The Batman will be a trilogy series, with Pattinson reportedly signing a three-picture deal. Director Matt Reeves, who coyly confirmed the news of his casting with three Bat emojis and a gif of the actor, is thought to have only signed on for the first film.
What is it about?
The new series will be a fresh start for the franchise with no connection to Snyder's films. Affleck's now-scrapped script was rumored to be a dark noir-style story that has elements of a detective film. However, the new direction is focusing on a younger Batman and the first of the trilogy likely an origin story in the same vein as Batman Begins.
That said, Reeves told The Hollywood Reporter that the tone might not be too dissimilar.
"It's very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale," he said. "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. It’s more Batman in his detective mode that we’ve seen in the films."
He explained, "The comics have a history of that. [Bruce Wayne] is supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, and that’s not necessarily been a part of what the movies have been."
Will The Batman cross over with Joker?
Pattinson's Bruce Wayne versus Joaquin Phoenix's Joker is very, very spicy-looking headline bout. Sadly, though, it's looking very, very unlikely. Quite apart from the practicalities of bringing the pair together temporally—Phoenix's Joker is in his late 30s in 1981 and we're assuming that The Batman will take place nowish, so Pattinson beating up an 80-year-old might not be the most edifying spectacle—Joker director Todd Phillips said the film's setting was deliberately chosen to head off potential sequels.
"The movie's not set up to [have] a sequel," Phillips told an LA press conference in early October. "We always pitched it as one movie, and that's it."
He further grumped: "We made this movie, I pitched it to Warner Bros as one movie. It exists in its own world. That's it."
When is it out?
In January of this year, it was confirmed by Warner Bros that The Batman will be released on June 25, 2021, with filming due to start at the end of 2019 or start of 2020 per Variety.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.