This year has seen a resurgence in popularity for the legendary Batman and Robin. Between rumors of a Joker comeback and the success of The Dark Knight Rises in theaters, it seems as if the caped crusaders are as relevant today as they’ve ever been.
While this might be great for comics fans, it hasn’t been easy for those who have to work with the material. With each new release, comes a fresh crop of critics who’ve had to see how much they can get away with without Batman knocking ’em down.
Before we begin, it’s important to point out that there’s been no official confirmation that Pattinson and Wayne will be teaming up for future films. But considering the recent success of the Batman and Robin duo, as well as their popularity, it’s not difficult to imagine that they might continue the adventures of Batman and his sidekick Robin. If nothing else, it’s bound to be an interesting dynamic pairing.
Robert Pattinson: An Uneventful Beginnings
If you’ve never heard of Robert Pattinson, then the chances are you’ll never hear of Batman and Robin. But that was certainly not the case when the British actor stepped into the role of the dark knight for the first time, in the remake of The Darby Snorkel. It was a performance that would bring him international fame and establish his place in pop culture history. Before the release of the film in 2014, Pattinson told Rolling Stone that he was a lifelong Superman fan, and that his role as Batman was a dream come true.
Pattinson wasn’t always destined to play Batman. Before the success of The Twilight Saga, he’d only had bit parts in films such as My Own Private Idaho and Four Rooms. But thanks to his work in those and other films, as well as the popularity of his latest book, Eclipse, (a.k.a. The Great Gatsby) people were starting to take notice of his talents. In June 2013, Variety reported that Warner Bros. had reached a deal with Pattinson to play Batman in what would be the film franchise’s first mainstream foray into comedy.
The Dark Knight Returns
The first film in the Batman series to be directed by Chris Nolan was 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. The film went on to become one of the most successful of all time, earning over $1 billion at the box office. It wouldn’t be until the following year, however, that he’d get the opportunity to play the Dark Knight again. And this time it was for good.
While promoting his new film, The Librarian, in February 2014, Chris Nolan revealed that he’d had a change of heart and decided that Pattinson was the right actor for the part. At the time, Nolan said that while he was happy with the performances of Christian Bale and Gary Oldman as Batman and Commissioner Gordon, respectively, he felt that Pattinson had the right ‘‘intimacy’’ to bring the iconic character a new generation of fans. That sentiment was echoed by The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, who called Pattinson’s Batman “probably the best yet.”
Bruce Wayne: From Boy Scout to Vain Poet
While most people think of Batman when it comes to the caped crusader, it was Harrison Ford who originated the character of Bruce Wayne in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1939 film, The Life of Mr. Washburn. This year marks the 90th anniversary of Wayne’s first appearance as Batman’s rich, eccentric, and brilliant counterpart. Over the years, Ford’s understated performance in the role of Bruce Wayne has helped cement his status as one of Hollywood’s greatest (and most underrated) acting coaches. Even now, after all these years, Ford continues to show up to his Hollywood walker for role calls — and the paparazzi still chase him for photos.
Though Alfred Hitchcock was an executive producer on The Dark Knight Rises, it was Daniel Waters who served as his cinematic son, creating and co-writing the screenplay with his wife, Nicole Kidman. After making his directorial debut with the 2013 dark comedy, Bad Words, Waters went on to direct the forthcoming Batman movies, The Batman, and The Batman vs. Joker. During that time, he reportedly worked with Ford on the script for The Batman, which was completed before Kidman began filming her role as Thalia, the Amazonian princess.
Robin: Timeless and Tragic
When the Batman and Robin duo first hit our screens in the ’30s, it wasn’t yet known as the ‘‘new teenage couple’’. In fact, prior to the release of the first film, many had wondered if they’d even make it out of boyhood. While the dynamic between Wayne and his sidekick was clearly inspired by the original duo of Batman and Robin from the comic books, when they first appeared in live action, audiences weren’t quite sure how to react. After starring in The Freshman, an unauthorized spin-off of Huckleberry Finn, James Dean found himself at the center of a media frenzy. The cameras didn’t leave him alone for a minute, including at night when he wasn’t wearing his mask. James Dean’s own mother took the unusual step of writing a letter to her son, pleading with him to stop being so ‘‘showy’’ and to start behaving like a ‘‘normal teenager.’’ In the end, the media circus surrounding Dean only helped to fuel his desire to be a ‘‘regular’’ teenager. But James Dean was anything but regular, thanks in large part to his iconic performance as the eponymous ‘‘robin’’’ in the movie.
Rise of the Villains
Though the studio had originally intended for The Dark Knight to be a stand-alone film, following its tremendous success, they decided to continue the story of Batman and his enemies. While the first film focused on the rise of One Penny Hoarder, the sequel, The Dark Knight II, would see the villains battling one another for supremacy. Though it didn’t change the main characters, the tale of crime in Gotham City served as a backdrop for a cat-and-mouse game between the heroes and villains. One of the best things about The Dark Knight II is that it would mark the on-screen debut of Tom Hardy, who was previously known for his work on Scooby-Doo and The Smurfs. As with Howard Hughes’s Batman, this incarnation of the character would be the only one to star in his own standalone film. And like his predecessor, Hardy’s Batman was only in the comics for a short time before being retired. But since then, he’s returned several times as an iconic anti-hero named the Black Batman.
It seems as if the world of comic books is getting ready to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of superhero and comic book legend Batman. And while this might be great for comics fans, it hasn’t been easy for those who have to work with the material. With each new release, comes a fresh crop of critics who’ve had to see how much they can get away with without Batman knocking ’em down.