We all knew it was ‘Twilight’ for the Bat-Fleck, months ago. Looks like the successor has now been selected to lead Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN’.
Readers: Meet ROBERT PATTINSON, the new Bruce Wayne/Batman. He will probably be fronting this new take on the Warners/DC property. It is thought the pitch is a 30s style pulp thriller: Maltese Flacon meets Raiders of the Lost Ark. Therefore also, logically, one suspects, divorced from the recent Justice League version (despite Aquaman and Wonder Woman still playing in that universe?).
This news has been rumoured for a while now but it seems to be officially confirmed, today, save a few final details (contract, press conference etc). Nicholas Hoult is thought to be still in the race and would be excellent; but, unless we hear otherwise: Assume that Robert Pattinson IS Batman! We congratulate this young man on being cast as one of the truly great heroes on film. He is the second Brit to take the role, after Christian Bale. He’s young but not THAT young. The average age for taking on the part is early to mid/late thirties. Val Kilmer was cast aged 34; Robert is 33 and will be 35 by the time this hits cinemas..they have similar big hair, too..bodes well, 25 years apart..history repeats?
There will of course be sceptics and cynics who will troll the hell out of this. He’s too young/pretty/untested in action etc. That’s fine, he can handle it and will have been warmed by the studio in advance. It’s fair to say that one might think it a stretch to picture this kid beating up a gangster, even if he hits a Gym for a year and gets ripped. But then, Batman is a fantasy. Yes, a human. mortal character. But also the social fantasy of being Mr Suave Man about Town AND the brooding romantic AND a bad-ass who can frighten the underworld.
It’s why Michael Keaton was so good: one believed him as an obsessive and in turn, as a man driven to don a Bat-suit as the other option was all out madness of an even more sinister and destructive kind. This Bruce Wayne could have become the Joker: THAT is how much of a complex knife edge he was on and one look to camera was all it took to see such texture, all thanks to a consummate actor of Keaton’s calibre in the lead. Yes, he DID convince in the action as best he could (rubber suit limitations, permitting) and had done sufficient prep in the Gym /KickBoxing/Snowboarding/Horse riding et al; but it’s the psychology of the thing that nailed the ‘take’ for the Batman of 1989-92.
That was Tim Burton’s idea: ‘it’s those eyes; you SEE the Batman IN Michael’s eyes’.
It’s also why Jon Peters then took that template too literally in trying to cast Superman (‘Sean Penn..he has the eyes of a killer: he’d be a great Superman!‘). To be fair, Peters produced the 1989 Batman and Warners wanted them to repeat a formula..just not THAT literally! I do like Peters, though. Easily dismissed by cinema snobs, the man nonetheless had a great commercial savvy in the 1980s/90s when Warners was mastering this super-hero genre, decades before Marvel’s current stronghold.
Keaton will forever be one of the greatest ‘Bat-men’ as he effectively launched the cinematic iteration (not counting the Lewis Wilson series from the 1940s), Adam West having owned the television counterpart. Val Kilmer was to my mind, just as good, in different ways; more convincing as Billionaire and balletic in action scenes.
George Clooney could have been great but sadly, he was in the cape for Batman and Robin. Christian Bale was definitive on all fronts: from the raw physicality and danger of the character to its softer more sensitive vulnerabilities and theatricality. I guess Bale was ‘my’ Batman in that, whilst I am excited for any new take on the character, the ‘story’ of this series ends for me at a Cafe in Florence in 2012..
Ben Affleck of course got hell, online, before, during and after his sadly short lived tenure. I was not thrilled on his announcement in 2013. But that was because I had come to see Ben more as Director than actor and I did not buy the idea of his brooding in a corner or convincing as the urbane, charming, playboy billionaire. I was both right and wrong. Affleck is the definitive physical personification of comic book Batman onscreen. That said? his Bruce Wayne was a nouveau riche pup, with tie pin and stubble to match.
The saddest thing of all is that Ben the writer/director did not realise his vision of ‘his’ Batman movie. It would have been outstanding and indeed, I’d have understood his standing down from playing the title role IF he had taken creative control on the DC universe, as was mooted, initially. It will forever be one of the great missed opportunities of Cinema and I will always enjoy watching the Batman scenes in JUSTICE LEAGUE (Yep, you read that correctly: I am defender of that ‘take’: not as good by any stretch as ‘Endgame’ but left me feeling happier by miles).
It’s early days and one can only speculate as to how Pattinson will play the Bat. But here are some gratuitous tips. Robert: you are most welcome 😉
- Channel that TWILIGHT brooding darkness. Remember also you are an actor with over a decade’s worth of additional looks, moves, emphases: use ALL of those!
- Think of certain other actors you have worked with lately. Two movies with Pierce Brosnan (happy birthday, btw!). He was considered for Batman in 1989 and 1995 and his Thomas Crown is very Bruce Wayne. Spookily..it’s around this time, 25 years ago, that Pierce was announced as the fifth onscreen 007..maybe Pierce can pop up in Gotham City as Alfred or Commissioner Gordon?
- Make sure they put a zipper/fly in your Bat costume and allow you to turn your head in the Cowl.
- DO NOT OVER-DO THE BAT VOICE. Watch Kevin Conroy in the animated series: he nails it! Just do not growl or husk.
- Borrow From Keaton: borrow the slightly awkward off duty Bruce/Batman personality confusion and the sense that, pushed the wrong way? YOU could have been the Joker, instead.
- Borrow From Kilmer: ALWAYS look the part; graceful and elegant movements as Bruce and a distinctive choreography as Batman.
- Borrow from Clooney: OWN that tux/coat combo as Bruce and just convey moments of tenderness amidst the madness (with Alfred; love interests etc).
- Borrow from Bale: You understand and embrace the absurdity of your own life as both Bruce and Batman as both are facades in service of a goal.
- Borrow from Affleck: FERAL FIGHTING STYLE! Criminals must be scared the moment you invade their habitat. Also show the determined detective’s drive and the scars that go with the life.
- Batman = The intense, earnest, Monastic focus of a Superman/ Captain America, cloaked in the playboy persona of peak era Tony Stark glib billionaire. Fused to: 007 + Gatbsy + Sherlock Holmes + Dracula + Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, via Rochester in Jane Eyre + Teddy Roosevelt + ANYTHING YOU WANT TO MAKE IT TO MAKE IT YOUR OWN!
We wish Mr Pattinson and ALL involved with ‘THE BATMAN’ the very best of luck. More on this as and when the news starts filtering through.
JAMES MURPHY IS A BILLIONAIRE PLAYBOY AND CEO BY DAY. But at night? He frightens criminals on the streets by writing movie reviews 🙂