Movies & TV

Why Robert Pattinson Is The Perfect Choice For A Dark Batman Reboot

A decade after Twilight, Pattinson is ready to play the most vampiric of comic book heroes
IMAGE CARIN BACKOFF
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He has, as a colleague pointed out to me last week, the jaw for it. He also has, as Hollywood types like to say, the chops. And now, if rumor is to be believed (it so often isn’t, but indulge us), Robert Pattinson will get to show off both looks and talent in The Batman, in which the brooding Brit will follow in the shiny-booted footsteps of Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck, as the latest big screen incarnation of DC Comics’ Caped Crusader, the emo superhero.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece for Esquire in praise of Pattinson and his determination to make films that—while not always successful—are never less than bold. I ended that piece, which paid particular attention to the actor’s most recent arthouse bafflement, the eccentric French filmmaker Claire Denis’s High Life, with the modest hope that Pattinson would see fit, at some point, to once again make a film with a wider appeal.

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Now 33, Pattinson has spent years licking his wounds from the scalding heat of the publicity generated by the Twilight films, in which he was the pallid vampire Edward Cullen. (A first world problem, I know, global megafame, but you really wouldn’t wish that level of obsessive attention on anyone.) As I mentioned, his choices have sometimes verged on the quixotic, but he has done excellent work in interesting films. Those who know him only from Twilight should check out last year’s Good Time, a gritty contemporary crime drama in which he gives a subtle and compelling performance as a desperate robber on the run.

So it’s perhaps only now, with a decade’s distance between him and Twilight, that Pattinson feels ready to play Batman, that most vampiric of comic book characters: mysterious millionaire, lives in a cave, only comes out at night, etc…

Batman/Bruce Wayne has previously been played with clenched intensity (Bale), twitchy wit (Keaton), quirky charisma (Clooney) and no apparent effort (Kilmer). He’s been camp (West) and he’s been constipated (Affleck). What will Pattinson bring to the role(s)? As a seasoned Pattinson watcher I would caution those hoping for broad comedy. It’s not really Pattinson’s thing. Neither does one associate belly laughs with Matt Reeves, the writer-director of The Batman, who is best known for two recent Planet of the Apes films and for Cloverfield, the 2008 monster movie. The title, meanwhile, with its portentous pronoun, suggests a noirish, Frank Miller-style approach, not unlike that taken by Christopher Nolan, rather than the surreal capers of the Tim Burton era.

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In the meantime we can look forward to The Joker, the latest franchise reboot, in which Joaquin Phoenix, another teen star turned acclaimed thesp, offers his take on the perma-smiling psycho previously embodied by Jack Nicholson (madcap), Heath Ledger (moody) and Jared Leto (yawn). Who knows? If that’s a hit perhaps they can get together in The Batman vs The Joker.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Alex Bilmes
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