This week is the premiere of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the blockbuster sequel to Man of Steel. One of the most memorable scenes from the movie is when Batman dons his Batsuit for the first time. Filmed live during an Instagram #askmeanything session, the reveal was one of the most popular moments of the night.
While Zack Snyder’s movie is undoubtedly a triumph, it’s not the first time that Robert Pattinson’s performances have caused a stir. As we’ve established, the intense Twilight actor has an affinity for comic books and their ilk. Naturally, fans of the Dark Knight and Man of Steel have taken an interest in his latest incarnation as Batman. The question is: Can he live up to the hype?
As with any other superhero, our starting point is the costume. Batman makes his first appearance as a silhouette, with just his iconic cowl and an armband to hint at his defining features. He’s then revealed in all his glory, sporting a long trench coat with a zipper, dark trousers, boots, and a dark hat. This look was chosen as a homage to the 1940s Batman radio show, which was set in an alternate universe where the vigilante leads a double life as a fashion designer.
If you’re unfamiliar, Robert Pattinson’s Batman is the modern-day adaptation of the character, starring in his own trilogy of movies. Focusing on the billionaire playboy’s relationship with the city of Gotham, the movies explore the fallout of the comic book hero’s decision to don the black costume and take on the rogues that plague Gotham.
Does He Fit The Bill?
Now, for the big question: Can Robert Pattinson play the part of Batman? To put it bluntly, the answer is yes, but not quite as you’d expect. For one, he doesn’t actually look like Batman (at least, not all of him).
The first movie in the trilogy, The Batman, features Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne, the billionaire playboy who decides to don the dark attire after his parents’ deaths. As the movie opens, we see Wayne (in profile) donning a classic Batman costume à la Tim Burton’s 1989 film. This is a key point in the story, as Bruce Wayne later discovers that the Batsuit actually belongs to his billionaire twin brother, James (Ben Barnes). This is where the similarities with Man of Steel end. Unbeknownst to Bruce, James had also decided to don a Batsuit after his parents’ murder and become Batman.
The key difference between the two costumes is that, while James’ gets the full Burton treatment, with spandex and a cowl that’s removable, Robert Pattinson’s is more of a sleek look with dark panels. This is a conscious decision on the part of the filmmakers, who want to evoke a more modern and stylish take on the character. As a result, even though he looks the part, Batman doesn’t quite feel like Batman.
The second movie in the trilogy, The Dark Knight, continues the story arc of the first. Again, the main focus is on Bruce Wayne as he wrestles with his dual identities as Batman and the man who murdered his parents. This time, however, we get to witness the billionaire playboy as he dons the Batsuit for the first time. It wouldn’t be the first time that a superhero revealed their secret identity in an attempt to dissuade a would-be assassin. And it wouldn’t be the last. (Spoilers ahead!)
All You Need Is Charisma
This brings us to our next point. Just like with any other superhero, charisma is critical. As established, Batman is a loner, introverted to the point of isolation. While he can exude charm when needed, he generally keeps to himself and prefers to rely on friends and family to navigate this strange and dangerous world. (This is one of the main reasons why we never see him in the company of others—save for fleeting appearances with Alfred and Lucius Fox.) While he is highly intelligent, Batman often comes off as quirky and antisocial.
So, how does he enchant the audience? Through dialogue. And action. Lots and lots of action. For a while, it was enough for Batman to simply exist. As Robert Pattinson’s portrayal drew more and more people into the fold, it became clear that these characters needed to have interactions. What better way to have these interactions than via dialogue?
What’s more is that these scenes (which Snyder and co-writer David S. Goyer are clearly invested in) are some of the most memorable scenes in the entire movie. In fact, the majority of the plot revolves around Bruce’s (fictional) speeches. Indeed, the billionaire playboy spends more time talking than fighting. This is, in part, down to the fact that he’s trying to persuade and inform the city’s citizens that he’s not actually a mass murderer. (Incidentally, the movie ends with a plea to not take the law into your own hands, hinting at the character’s status as a vigilante, a reference to the first movie.)
Ultimately, we come back to the question at hand: Can Robert Pattinson play Batman? As established, he has the looks. More importantly, he has the charisma. While the first two movies in the trilogy are strong, they’re not quite ready for prime time. Once again, though, it’s not quite as you’d expect. While he’ll be fine in a comedic role, as evidenced by his work in the upcoming Highball, he’s not quite ready to don the mask and take on the rogues—at least, not until he’s had more experience.
If you’d like, you can follow Robert Pattinson on Instagram to see him pose next to some of his favorite comic book characters. (This was a common theme during the #AskMeAnything session. He even went so far as to name-drop Spiderman, Ironman, and Captain America, as well as the Batman films he played a part in.) Naturally, the world is achingly aware of the actor’s passion for comic books, as evidenced by his recent appearance on the cover of Justice League, with Batman looking on in amazement.