Is It a Pose?

For fans of the “Sight and Sound” magazine, Robert Pattinson’s bare-chested image in “The Batman” is more than enough to make the heart miss a beat. The 25-year-old actor shows off his ripped abs in the new Batman film as he struts around with a gun in one hand and a lighter in the other. While the pose may look like an homage to the 80s action films he grew up watching, the actor explained that the scene was actually intended to be “a bit more sophisticated”. As he put it:

“It was very much inspired by a scene in a David Cronenberg movie. It was a bit like a ‘Buckaroo Banzai’ moment, where he just ran around the rooftops with no shirt on.”

The Dark Knight Is Back

After a five-year absence, the Dark Knight is back with a bang! Since 2011’s “The Dark Knight Rises”, Christian Bale is back as Batman and the legacy he left behind is being carried on by the talented actors who’ve played the role since then. While the Dark Knight is usually associated with tragedy and darkness, the new installment is as light-hearted as it is action-packed.

Set in the contemporary era and featuring a young star-studded cast, “The Batman” begins where 2011’s “The Dark Knight Rises” left off. Gotham is in desperate need of a savior as Bruce Wayne (Batman) has mysteriously disappeared. With the help of his trustworthy butler Alfred (Richard Harris), the citizens turn to the bat-suit clad caped crusader for help bringing order back to their chaotic city.

Meanwhile, the police have begun an investigation into Bruce Wayne’s mysterious disappearance. Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) sets his sights on vigilantes and potential suspects as he tries to find a lead on the missing CEO.

Even though Christian Bale is back as Batman, the character is very much an adult who’s acting like a kid, as he demonstrated in 2011, when he was barely older than Prince Harry in his teens. While the series is often cited for its dark undertone, it has never shied away from a joke or a playful attitude even in its most serious moments. In fact, the Joker (played by the late Heath Ledger) is one of the most notorious villains in cinematic history for his bizarre sense of humor. He dresses up as a lawyer, invades Wayne Manor, and offers ‘free’ legal counseling to the insane. The character won an Academy Award for best supporting actor and became a cult figure, inspiring everything from T-shirts to tattoos.

In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the character regularly appeared in comics, television shows, and films. While he hasn’t always been an easy character to replicate on film, the industry has learned a lot from his memorable performances and distinctive voice, made famous by an unforgettable song he sings in the 1989 film: “I Feel So Sad When You Go Away…”

Alfred’s Still Tricky To Traduce

Even though Alfred’s been around for a while, it doesn’t mean he’s not still one of Batman’s most difficult supporting characters to translate onto film. While the Butler is more than capable of holding his own against some of Batman’s most infamous arch-enemies, like the Joker and the Penguin, his role as Alfred’s still tricky to pull off without some help from the directors. In order to make the role his own, Gary Oldman had to study voice acting, not just mimic some of Alfred’s more famous quotes:

“I don’t think there’s a word for what I do, really,” Oldman said of his approach to the part. “It’s more like acting clowns. You’re bringing your own instinct to it. You’re not just doing a caricature. You have to find the right tone for it.”

You Have to See It To Believe It

Even if you’ve seen the “Sight and Sound” magazine cover depicting Robert Pattinson in various poses while wearing only a shirt or bra and panties, you have to see “The Batman” to believe it. Director Matt Reeves’ (“Clairvoyance”) vision of a darker, more adult Batman is one that audiences may not be quite ready for as he’s treading new terrain with a character that’s been around for more than 75 years.

The darker tone permeates every aspect of the film. Not only does the camera frequently linger on Christian Bale’s muscular back as he walks down the street, but scenes of gruesome violence are also interspersed with dreamy, almost psychedelic sequences.

“There are elements in this that will surprise everyone,” said Reeves of his visually stunning, if somewhat gruesome, take on Batman. “I think the biggest task was to take a character that hadn’t been seen in this light and add a bit more darkness to it.”

For those who love a good scare, “The Batman” is brimming with them. While the villainous mastermind known as Scarecrow snags a couple of scenes by scaring the pants off the audience, the film is primarily defined by its intense, almost surreal, fight scenes. With so much action, it’s easy to see how the film could easily be labeled “Tetris meets ‘80s action movies’

“I just wanted to have a good time with it,” said Reeves of the tone he was going for. “It’s not meant to be realistic. We’ve sort of strayed from the original intent of the film.”

But aren’t superheroes meant to be realistic? After all, who isn’t dreaming of being able to save the world one day? Reeves may have just given us the answer to that question as he revealed that although this is indeed a Batman film, it’s also a fantasy:

“I always think of it as a bit of a fever dream,” Reeves said when asked if he was going for pure escapism or trying to portray a real world problem. “We’re not really talking about reality here. We’re in a dream world. We’re not really talking about the present day. This is the present day that we’re in, but it’s also a bit of a fever dream. It’s like a nightmare that you’re having, where the reality around you is sort of melting away, and you’re living in a fantastical world.”

While Christian Bale has certainly proven his ability to play gruff, dark, and emotion-filled roles, his performance as the jolly, heart-warming, and infinitely more articulate Willy Lomax in “Looper” was a welcome return to form, displaying the kind of lighter side that makes the Dark Knight so lovable.

As for which version of the character fans will most want to see: Oldman’s or Bale’s? It seems the answer may just be “both”. The Butler has been featured in all four of the previous films, but he’s only ever played one role. Does he get to do so again, or is Reeves bringing us yet another departure?

A new ‘Butler vs. Joker’ teaser was released last week, but it doesn’t give us much to go on. All we know is that it will be set in the Batman universe and see the return of Christian Bale’s Alfred. The teaser ends with a tantalizing image of the actor in a gray suit and black shoes. It doesn’t reveal much, but it’s certainly enough to get fans excited. Will Alfred or the Joker be getting the best of this round? Stay tuned.