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Why Robert Pattinson is the perfect casting choice as the next Batman

It's official: Robert Pattinson will be the world's new Batman. Opinions vary as to the wisdom of this casting. Can he pull off the caped crusader's menacing scowl? Will audiences around the world believe him as the world's greatest detective? How will that mask look on his all-too-recognizable face? In a world overrun with mighty men and women, radioactive spider-people and Avengers of every stripe, how can this newcomer distinguish himself as worthy of our time, money, and devotion — especially when we all remember him best as a mid-'00s sex symbol for swooning teenage girls?

Let the naysayers cast their aspersions — we're here to argue on Robert Pattinson's behalf. In fact, he won't merely make an adequate Batman, nor will he just barely clear the bar of "surprisingly good." He's a surprising pick but this is an actor who has the experience, confidence, flexibility and charisma necessary to make his take on the Dark Knight of Gotham City one of the absolute best. Sit back and be convinced as we take you on a tour of Robert Pattinson's many qualifications for donning the cape and cowl.

Edward Cullen and Batman aren't really that different

Edward Cullen is a fantasy object for teenage girls, a Ken doll with fangs, a vampire who sparkles. If you were around for Twilight mania, you remember how ardently Edward's fans adored him — and on the flip side of that fanbase coin, how fiercely people hated the character and his world in turn. Many who pale at the concept of Pattinson stepping into the caped crusader's combat boots remember that last bit in particular. Edward, they rail, is a sensitive heartthrob who likes to play Debussy for his high school girlfriend. Batman is a vigilante who spends his time in Gotham City's grimiest alleyways, putting the hurt on all who'd harm the innocent. Never the twain shall meet. Right?

Wrong. Though some might shudder to hear it, Edward Cullen and Batman aren't really that different, and Pattinson's experience as the former could translate to playing the latter quite smoothly. Edward might not wear a cape, but he spends a lot of time fighting werewolves, a cabal of evil vampires, and even a gang of cat-callers with his own two sparkly fists. Batman might be a loner, but his chosen family of butlers, sidekicks, and feline-themed love interests are as much a part of his story as all the time he spends brooding solo. Both Batman and Edward are men with solemn duties, loved ones, and a preference for nighttime. Pattinson's experience as Edward isn't a burden at all — it's a tremendous asset.

He can genuinely scare an audience

Batman is a lot of things: father figure, eccentric billionaire, masked do-gooder, the originator of the Batusi. He is also, across the many decades, genres, and reimaginings that make up his fictional career, scary. Unlike Robin, the Bat-Signal, or Arkham Asylum, this has been a core part of the Dark Knight from the very beginning. The moment before he sees the bat that inspires him to become the superhero we know and love, he muses on the need to be able to "strike terror" into the hearts of "superstitious, cowardly" criminals. He's great at beating them up, untangling their riddles and even rehabilitating them now and again, but before all of that, he's looking to spook them out of pursuing a life of crime.

Robert Pattinson has the experience necessary to bring this fright factor to the fore. Most emblematic is his role in David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, in which Pattinson plays a cold-hearted tycoon on a downward spiral. Though some measure of sympathy is extended to the character, Pattinson knows he's playing a slimeball with power and he leans into the sheer nightmare of the character's life and surroundings. Menace radiates from him as he sits in his limousine, is heckled by protesters, and watches his fortune crumble. From the most mundane moments to the climax, you feel the cruelty and power radiate off Pattinson: Here is a man who could destroy you, and who just might do it. And that's exactly what a criminal needs to feel facing down Batman.

He can portray tenderness and vulnerability

If you keep up with comics-centric news, you've probably heard that Batman's in a bit of a rough place these days, romantically speaking. He proposed to Catwoman, who accepted — only to leave him at the altar without much of an explanation. The current series is delving into why she did what she did and whether or not there's a future for the crimefighting (and sometimes crime-doing) couple, with no clear answer in sight. But it all makes one thing clear: Batman's love life is as much a part of the character as his utility belt.

Sometimes he's with Selina Kyle, arguably his most important love interest. Sometimes it's ace reporter Vicki Vale. Sometimes it's villainess (and mother of his son, Damien Wayne) Talia al Ghul. But there's usually someone around to see the softer side of the man behind the bat, and that tenderness matters. Pattinson's experience in Twilight is key here, but so too are his roles in romantic movies like Remember Me and Water for Elephants. Pattinson knows how to bring out the sweetness in a hardbitten man, and how to show that the two aspects need not be in conflict. His Edward fought to protect what and who he loved, and at the end of the day, for all his gloom, so does Batman. Even if he does get jilted every now and then.

He's not afraid to put his own spin on an iconic character

Batman has been interpreted as everything from a groovy 1960s hep cat to a bloody-knuckled vigilante who brands the men he puts behind bars. Yet he remains a character so iconic, culture-defining, and beloved that putting one's stamp on him is no mean feat. People have Batman tattoos, Batman collections, and careers defined by being "that guy who drew Batman," even if it was only for a handful of years. He's a legend, and in the age of omnipresent fandom, someone a lot of angry people are prepared to go to war over.

Good thing Pattinson's already tackled a role like that. Before the Twilight films became a phenomenon, Pattinson spoke candidly about the intimidation factor present in playing Edward Cullen. "Even in the synopsis," he told reporters in 2008, "it's like, 'Edward is the perfect being. He's so witty and beautiful, and so crazy, he's funny, he'll open doors for you.'" Sure, Batman doesn't long to drink the blood of nubile love interests, but the principle applies. The best Batmen are those played by actors with the experience and confidence necessary to make the role their own. Pattinson accomplished that while Twilight mania was at its apex, and now millions of people retain fond memories of his particular spin on Edward Cullen. We're willing to bet the world will feel the same about his take on Batman.

He'll nail Batman's sardonic sense of humor

Batman isn't popularly thought of as a funny character, especially alongside bona fide jokesters like Plastic Man and Booster Gold. But when the situation calls for it, he can drop a zinger with the best of them. Recall the Batman from Justice League Unlimited: There, Batman was a master of the sardonic quip, and, by the end of the series, likely one of the most consistently funny characters on the show. He's a sharp man with no patience for mediocrity and sometimes the best way to get through isn't a punch, but a well-placed diss.

The DC movies could use a dose of comedy, excoriated as they've been for being po-faced and bleak. But aping Marvel's quick-witted silliness might lead to films that feel like pale imitations. Instead, why not let Batman lean into his particular brand of devastating sarcasm — especially since Pattinson has a wonderful track record with that sort of humor? Despite Queen of the Desert's generally lackluster reception, reviewers highlighted Pattinson's portrayal of Lawrence of Arabia as a "sharp-tongued, sardonic figure who can see through the pretensions of his bosses and colleagues." Batman could benefit from a little of that, and Pattinson's the man for the job.

He can brawl like an action hero

Superhero movies are action movies, and their lead actors need to be able to throw down with the biggest, buffest bad guys. We're there to see Captain America pull off impossible boomerang bust-ups with his shield. We want to see Iron Man deliver a rocket punch right into Thanos' big purple jaw. We dissect the hows and whys of Captain Marvel's photon-powered acrobatics because they're just that dazzling to witness. When it comes to the cape and cowl, we want to see punches thrown.

You might be thinking to yourself, well, Pattinson has no experience in that. You'd be wrong, first off, in attributing that to his time spent as a teen heartthrob. Twilight featured about as much violence as it did smooching, climaxing in an all-out battle royale in Breaking Dawn – Part 2 in which vampires were beheaded and wolves ripped each others' throats out. So even if we're just talking in terms of Twilight, Pattinson has proven he can get punchy with the best of them — but he's added to his action experience in recent years as well. Good Time, a neo-grindhouse thriller in which he plays a stone-cold gangster, and The Lost City of Z, a turn-of-the-century adventure, stand in testimony to this. Pattinson combines a leading man's charm with a superhero's athleticism. And isn't that Bruce Wayne in a nutshell?

He understands what it's like to have a secret identity

An unanswerable question lies at the heart of Batman's characterization: is Bruce Wayne or Batman the mask he truly wears? Some incarnations explore this conflict more than others — Christian Bale's Batman, for example, went wholeheartedly into the idea of a Batman who plays Bruce Wayne up as a foolish playboy who likes a model on each arm and the latest car in the lot. Other imaginings see less of a split between the two personas, as in Batman: The Animated Series, where he leans on public perception of him as ridiculous but still, at the end of the day, identifies as Bruce Wayne first and Batman second. The gulf between the two personas remains, however, and every Batman actor must bridge it.

Pattinson's life as a highly visible actor with high-minded ambitions makes him a fantastic candidate already — but he's also shown a particular interest in exploring that aspect of being a public figure. In Robert Pattinson Battles Fame and Fear to get a New York Street Dog, a short film for GQ, Pattinson explores the contradictions of his life through, well, trying to be Robert Pattinson as he attempts to get a hot dog. He isn't just acquainted with having a double life, he's actively interested in examining it through film. What better metaphor through which to do that than playing a guy who dresses up as a bat to change the world according to his vision?

He knows how to commit to a role

Is there any character that calls for intensity more than Batman? Any actor seeking to portray him needs to look buff, sound smart, emote through a mask, get through the media blitz, and stay humble and perky throughout the entire gauntlet while fans bang down your door with questions about comics that have been out of print for decades. But it pays off: The most committed, dedicated, persistent actors get the best results in the outsize world of comic book characters. Heath Ledger is likely the most famous example of this phenomenon in action, having conjured his terrifying interpretation of the Joker through, reportedly, deep study, a "Joker journal," and meditation.

This level of commitment to the craft is something Pattinson has demonstrated time and time again over the course of his career. There is, of course, the fact that he went through the rigamarole that is being part of both Harry Potter and Twilight, two of the most demanding and passion-inspiring franchises around. But beyond that, everyone he's worked with, from directors to fellow actors, have highlighted his persistence. Claire Denis, who directed Pattinson in High Life, initially wanted a Philip Seymour Hoffman type for the role of Monte but changed her mind upon seeing Pattinson's passion. Pattinson "is just the sort of actor I love," she told The Hollywood Reporter, "because he is like a man with another man inside himself, craving for something." Now, who does that description remind you of, if not a certain Dark Knight?

He can carry a masculine movie

The initial reaction to Pattinson's casting has made one thing very clear: Many people still think of him as a "girl movie" actor. Never mind the years that have passed since Twilight, never mind that he made his debut in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a story with appeal across genders if ever there was one. No, to so many, he will always be Edward Cullen until he dies. He might as well, according to this way of thinking, pack it in forever and accept his fate as a sort of neo-Fabio. Once you don the sparkles, apparently, there is no going back.

Except that he has proven, time and time again, to be a versatile actor. And not just versatile, but particularly good at channeling the sort of masculine, gritty, movie-carrying energy doubters might not believe he's capable of. The last few years alone have seen him take the lead in everything from High Life, a science fiction horror story set in deep space, to Damsel, a Western in which he plays a cowboy staking his claim on the frontier. No, those movies didn't devour the zeitgeist the way Twilight did, but they happened, he was great in them, and he's more than proven he can gunsling and quip with the manliest men. Pattinson isn't just capable of channeling masculine charisma, he excels at it. We're betting his take on Batman is the proof that will silence all the doubters permanently.

He has the Batman jawline

Batman has to look good. All superheroes do, of course, but Batman... well, he needs to look good while almost entirely encased in leather. Wonder Woman can let a tear roll down her cheek. Superman can laugh uproariously. Even Iron Man can lift the helmet whenever he wants, and the director can always avail himself of an in-helmet view. Not Batman. Whoever plays Batman has to get his acting through an inch of kevlar and a voice-distorting growl — and, of course, with only his mouth visible.

Who better to accomplish that Herculean feat than an actor who's also got quite a bit of experience modeling? He knows how to imbue a still shot of his face with emotion. He knows how to convey an entire fashion line's worth of messaging with a single look. And not to be shallow, but the dude who plays Batman should have one heck of a jawline. Take one look at him and it's apparent — he's got the kind of bone structure that could strike fear into the hearts of baddies everywhere. Though Pattinson initially faced difficulties as a male model as he aged out of a more androgynous look and into his undeniably masculine features, this is something that could benefit him massively as Batman. Batman needs a lantern jaw, and Pattinson's is ready for its closeup.