If there’s one thing the world has learned over the past few years it’s that there is more than one way to skin a cat. While many companies have tried to cash in on Marvel’s newfound popularity by creating their own superhero franchises, the studios that released the originals remain pretty optimistic about the future.
This weekend sees the premiere of Matt Reeves’s The Batman, a prequel to 2012’s spectacular entry in the franchise, The Dark Knight Rises. Set thirty years before the events of that movie, the new trailer promises a lighter tone and a more humanistic interpretation of the Dark Knight.
The Ins and Outs Of Reeves’ Evolution
The director, writer, and co-producer of The Batman went through a number of different Batmobiles in the development process. After Reeves saw Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, he knew that he wanted to do something different with the vehicle of the eponymous superhero.
“We had a long meeting about The Dark Knight,” Reeves told Entertainment Weekly. “One of the things that stuck out to me was how much the Batmobile itself had evolved from the one that had appeared in the first movie. This notion of retro but innovative — that’s kind of what we wanted to do with The Batman.”
The Dark Knight Rises made over $1 billion at the box office, so it’s clear that audiences are still craving their fix of the Caped Crusader.
But how much do they actually want? The first film to feature the updated Batmobile was 2004’s Batman Begins, where the character’s vehicle was still based on the design from Burton and Robinson’s original movie in 1989. As a result, Nolan’s masterpiece is often credited with ushering in the third era of Batman films — that is, until The Dark Knight.
For their part, the creators of the Batman franchise seem to have adopted a “wait and see” attitude towards the trailer for Matt Reeves’s The Batman. Producer Benjamin Melniker told Variety that they were cautiously optimistic about the movie, but that they had not yet seen the finished product. He also suggested that they would reserve their judgment until after the movie’s premiere.
So, while we wait for that glorious day when the whole world can watch Batman fight bad guys in tights, let’s dive into the fascinating world of Matt Reeves’s Batmobile.
Why Now Is A Good Time For A Spin On The Classic Car
It’s been a good year for car enthusiasts. Not only has the auto market been on the up since the pandemic, but also a host of classic vehicles are back in demand, making cars fans dream projects. The fact that many famous faces are attached to these cars only makes the appeal that much more appealing.
Matt Reeves’s The Batman is the perfect example of this. The Batmobile, like its namesake, is a classic. Designed by William Moulton Marston in 1939, the car was first featured in the comic books in 1947. Since then, it has become a symbol of the Dark Knight’s crime-fighting exploits. This is certainly not the first time that Marston’s famous design has been featured in an MCU installment. It was previously seen in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, the first of a trilogy of definitive Batman graphic novels published in 1986.
The setting of that story would seem to lend itself perfectly to a spin on the classic car. As the story begins, Batman has just completed a victory lap around Gotham City, celebrating his latest defeat of the criminal mastermind Mr. Freeze. While some of the spoils of battle are being unloaded, a police siren sounds in the distance. Before the Dark Knight can stop to confront the intruders, a getaway driver loads his automobile with all of the stolen goods — including the cowl that the superhero wears around his head.
After a brief moment where he mourns the loss of his “baby”, the camera cuts to show us the back of the car, with the license plate reading “MR STRIKE”. While the car itself is an icon, the fact that it’s emblazoned with a menacing grin only adds to its mystique.
The Dark Knight Returns would seem to be the starting point for Matt Reeves’s take on the character. As the trailer for the new movie suggests, this Batman prequel will place greater emphasis on character over spectacle, with a lighter touch than many of his previous outings.
The Evolution Of A Classic Car
Since The Dark Knight Rises, the design of the Batmobile has undergone a slight revamp as part of a general overhaul of the character. First seen in 2001’s Batman Forever, the updated vehicle is sleeker and somewhat more aerodynamic than its 1940s counterpart.
But while many vehicles have evolved with the times, the Batmobile’s design has stood the test of time. William Marston, the creator of the character, would be proud to see his creation get the 21st century upgrade.
There are a number of other classic vehicles from which Matt Reeves could draw inspiration. Not only does Batman continue to fight crime in the present day, but also in some of the more recent movies, the Caped Crusader has donned the costume as a way of life, defending a more humanistic vision of justice. He even began fighting for a class of underprivileged youth, a theme which runs throughout the franchise.
These are just some of the many classic cars which could feature in Matt Reeves and co-writer Jane Wilson’s Batman story. As part of the Netflix production, the director could mine this rich vein of vintage autos to create some truly memorable scenes. And who knows? Perhaps this weekend will be the turning point in the evolution of the franchise.