After five years in the making, Matt Reeves’ ‘The Batman’ finally hits the big screen this coming Friday the 4th of March. Led by Robert Pattinson as the new face of the dark vigilante and set in the second year of his appearance on the streets of Gotham, Reeves has infused an edginess that propels this story from the typical comic book fair into an intriguing thriller for the ages.
The latest entry dives into the story when a killer targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective – Batman (Robert Pattinson) – on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle/aka Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), Oswald Cobblepot/aka the Penguin (Colin Farrell), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and Edward Nashton/aka the Riddler (Paul Dano). As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.
During the latest round of press events, stars Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright and Paul Dano took time out to attend the films conference to divulge their thoughts on the making of Matt Reeves’ interruption.
Some could say audiences have had their fill of yet another Batman origin story, so, what is it about Reeves’ film that is different from what has come before? Jeffrey Wright – who plays James Gordon – was adamant this version has been updated for the time we live in while essentially honouring the memory of the franchise.
“Every film that’s come before our film has been done in its own way. What really excited me about this script and Matt’s vision was that he was making a Batman for now. Honouring the history of the franchise from 1939 till today and infusing this film with relevance to a 21st century Gotham. I think it’s really exciting and it’s going to be thrilling for fans because it is modern, it’s now but it’s also based on the origins of the characters which around mystery and detective work and all of that good stuff.”
Pattinson went on to commend Reeves’ change of story structure, revelling in the changes of how Bruce Wayne is portrayed as more of a broken man without the mask, seeing his escape into the Batsuit as the only way he could be someone else entirely.
“The change of story structure of Batman – The first time I read the script there was a pretty drastic departure from the traditional way Bruce Wayne is portrayed. He is like a society playboy, he is very much in control of the three aspects of his personality. A playboy – a little bit silly and stuff. Then he is like the Bruce at home. He has actually let Bruce wither, since his parent’s death, he has withered away. He hasn’t worked on himself enough at all apart from this kind of obscure way where the only way he can survive is creating this alter ego which he wants to live in more and more. He doesn’t have an enormous amount of control over what’s happening to him when he puts that suit on. He genuinely believes he is another person when he puts it on, and he is addicted to it. So when The Riddler comes along and calls him out it’s almost like he is more afraid of his identity being revealed than dying.”
Pattinson wasn’t the only one taking on an iconic character within the Batman canon, Zoe Kravtiz follows in the footsteps of Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfieffer and Anne Hathaway, to name but a few, who have donned the latex catsuit of Catwoman, but although she found it intimidating, she felt she had to move away from the icon and portray her as simply another human being.
“It was intimidating, I think in order to really honour who these characters are and play them as three-dimensional people you can’t think of them as Catwoman, You can’t think of them as someone iconic, You just have to play a human being in a situation and hope that it all flows together. What’s really amazing is that this film really works if you just take away these iconic characters, that’s an incredible accomplishment.
She went on to say “It’s rare to have a character whose physicality is equally as important as anything else we are going to do. We had an incredible stunt choreographer named Rob Alonzo who was so interested in who these people were and found very interesting ways to infuse that into the stunt choreography, I did watch plenty of cat videos and I loved the mystery of how they moved and their smoothness and finding ways to bring just that elegance and that confidence to the character.”
Since his Harry Potter and Twilight days, Pattinson has moved away from the glitz and glamour of a glossy franchise in pursuit of more gritty and independent films, one can assume to prove his level of talent in front of the camera. So coming back to the intensity of a big character was made easier by the legacy of his new character.
“The nature of the part, the fact that it’s been around for such a long time, the fact that it’s been interrupted a few times as well shows it has so many layers to it, so many ways you can play it. Even though you’ve got half your face hidden, and it’s kind of bizarre, you can put him into so many different genres and contexts. Also just the legacy of the people who’ve been involved, it’s a massive privilege. When you put on the suit for the first time as well… You can feel it. I remember just walking across the parking lot and just seeing a shadow and the two little ears coming out the top of my head, it was just really strange.”
Bruce Wayne and Seline Kyle aka Catwoman aren’t the only ones whose characters have been given an extra layer of personality. James Gordon, in partnering up with Batman for the great of good, is also given something meatier to play with, according to Wright, thanks to director Matt Reeves.
“I think Matt was really clever in activating him. Activating Gordon I think elevated the core elements of this film, yes it’s a Batman film, yes there is all that kinetic energy but he really wanted to make a film that was layered and plot-driven and focused on mystery and detective work being centre allowed him to do that and also pay homage the films he first loved. He and I are of similar ages that I fell in love with, the Sidney Lumet stuff, ‘French Connection’, ‘All The Presidents Men’, that golden age of American cinema in the ’70s. I wouldn’t say that Gordon has more depth but I think he certainly has more to do in partnership with Batman in this film which was exciting for me and it serves the interest of the character. It really goes back to the core of what DC is about.”
Paul Dano – who plays a very different version of The Riddler to what has come before – couldn’t praise Reeves enough for his interruption in creating a character that is more and psychologically damaged.
“Matt gave us a gift with an incredibly beautiful, fully realised singular script that was the foundation. He offered us the chance to do something that’s maybe a bit more real and grounded, personal, emotional, psychological while also fulfilling the sort of archetypical duty you have when you are entering a mythology. I think somehow those two things have been married together, that was certainly the hope with this Riddler, that any contact with reality might actually make him more scary but also still, it’s Gotham and he is the Riddler.”
Dano went on to comment on his costume, its influence and how it emboldened him to bring this character to life.
“There was a lot there on the page, Matt certainly had some real-life influences like the Zodiac Killer but was cool about it is when you see the film where Edward Bastian, who he was inspired by, maybe not having the same resources to make his costume. We did work on it together, that stuff is incredibly important because you try to imbue it with the energy; I needed that mask to carry some of the character for me because he is a lot. So finding the right mask and what that allows to come through for the character, someone who is totally powerless to feel powerful but also for me it allows something to come through that I don’t know if the same thing would without the mask.”
The Batman hits cinemas on Friday the 4th of March.