One of the biggest news stories this year was, undoubtedly, the release of The Batman. The critically acclaimed film brought Hollywood fans and newcomers alike to a Gotham that was at once familiar yet entirely unique. With filming wrapped, we’re now able to look back at the evolution of Batman through the eyes of his star, Robert Pattinson, who plays the iconic role of the Dark Knight.
From Goth To Dark
If you’re not familiar, The Batman is set in the early 21st century and follows a retired billionaire named Thomas Wayne (played by William Hurt) as he creates a new line of advanced armoured vehicles for the government. When the vehicles are put into action in a fictional South American country, they are dubbed the Tumblers and quickly become a worldwide success. But trouble brews when the government insists that Wayne, now known as the ‘Green Goblin’, supply them with a dangerous chemical known as Noctile. When the price of a crate of the chemical goes up, Wayne suspects foul play and enlists the aid of two brilliant detectives whose daughter Penny (played by Emily Blunt) he has also taken a shine to.
It’s a great film, well worth seeking out. If you’re a fan of detective fiction, particularly that of the golden age, then it’s an absolute must-watch. The performances are incredible; Robert Pattinson in particular gives an incredible nuanced performance that brings the character to life in a way that feels incredibly organic and unforced. On the surface, the character might appear to be a bit of a stereotype, but the actor shines through in every scene, bringing a depth and reality to the material that truly makes it his own. In fact, The Batman is full of fantastic performances, particularly from the supporting cast, all of whom seem to find their true voice and use it effectively in the material.
The Film That Started It All
The Batman is the film that started it all. Not only did it introduce a new generation to the classic 1939 Batman television show, but it also gave a much-needed boost to the career of actor Robert Pattinson, whose previous work largely consisted of bit parts in independent films. Pattinson had previously only appeared in character roles, mostly in quirky British comedies, and was best known to American audiences for his role as the dashing and dim Lewis Hamilton in the 2013 film Grand Tour. But, for the first time in his acting career, he found himself in a major studio film, and one that was of the highest quality, no less. The film also proved to be a launching pad for Pattinson, who went on to star in the incredibly popular horror-comedy Goodnight Mommy, which became one of the highest-grossing indie films of all time. Since then, Pattinson has appeared in acclaimed films such as the critically acclaimed The Legend of the Monkey, the wildly popular Twilight series, and High Life, a coming-of-age story that was critically acclaimed yet largely unseen, which once again showcased his incredible versatility and ability to portray difficult and complex characters with ease.
A Different Perspective
While The Batman was a monumental moment for Pattinson, it was also a chance to show off his versatility. The film sees him play a character that is, at least on the surface, completely different to his usual type of role. As a result, it required him to adopt a different perspective on the material; to approach it from a different angle. Before The Batman, most of Pattinson’s onscreen work had been in quirky comedy films, which meant he was rarely placed in positions of authority, be it over men or women, or with a gun in the vicinity. So, while he was no stranger to gunplay, or using his wits to best another person, it was a new experience for him to be placed in a position of authority, with all the responsibility that comes with it. In order to prepare for the role, he began reading up on his classic crime-fighting counterparts, as well as real-life figures like Warren G. Harding and Howard Hughes.
“I looked at these historical figures and tried to see what it would be like to be them,” he said in a 2017 interview. “What are their daily routines? How do they approach solving crimes?” This research enabled him to approach the role with a fresh eye, something that truly enhanced his performance and made him a more natural choice for the part.
A Different Approach To The Material
In many ways, The Batman is the perfect example of how to approach film noir. The material is familiar, as it is based on characters and situations that have been used over and over again in countless other films. But, rather than being just a rehash of what came before, it presents them in a way that is all too relevant to our times. While the film was released in 2004, it feels like it could have been made yesterday.
“There is a sophistication to the way it is made, the camera angles, the way people act, that feels like it could be happening right now,” said Pattinson of his own film. “Sometimes you don’t even need to put in a lot of effort to make a film feel current. You can go back and have a look at what was happening then and make it feel current. The lighting, the direction, everything about it is very film noir-esque.”
A Film That Everyone Wants To Be A Part Of
Perhaps even more interesting than what The Batman did for Pattinson’s acting career, or the film itself, was the fact that it launched a thousand ships. As soon as the final product was released, fans began applying to be a part of the production. It wasn’t just a case of people wanting to be in a film that featured one of the greatest actors of our time, it was a case of people wanting to be a part of something special. To date, the film has earned over 500 million USD at the worldwide box office, making it one of the most profitable independent films ever made. That kind of incredible success means that there will always be a place for The Batman in the hearts of anyone who sees value in classic cinema. It might not be the most groundbreaking film ever made, but it certainly is one of the greatest.