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The Secret Tease Everyone Missed In The Batman Trailer

The Batman is coming.

After months of anticipation, DC FanDome has finally unveiled the first real trailer for Matt Reeves' 2021 reboot, starring Robert Pattinson as a certain wealthy orphan-turned-vigilante. Surely enough, the trailer is chock-full of small, easy-to-miss details and creepy clues about the dark tidings ahead. That's appropriate, for a few reasons — for starters, Paul Dano's Riddler appears to be the film's primary antagonist, and that's a dude whose entire shtick is about clues. Furthermore, while most previous film depictions of Batman have veered away from his origins as more of a costumed detective than an outright superhero, much to the annoyance of fans — remember, this guy first appeared in a publication titled Detective Comics, for crying out loud — The Batman seems poised to fully embrace these roots, making it a very different kind of Batman movie. In a 2019 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Reeves described the film as "very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale."

This means that, most likely, the film's story will involve a deep mystery, which audiences will presumably unravel alongside the Dark Knight himself. Hidden inside the trailer, there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it clue that very well could signify that Pattinson's Bruce Wayne is about to have his entire world turned sideways, in a way that forces him to question everything he has devoted himself to.

The Riddler always leaves clues, and this one is a doozy

The DC FanDome trailer for The Batman opens on a crime scene: a green-jacketed serial killer, presumably the Riddler, has murdered Gotham's mayor. Bloody notes are strewn about, seemingly linking the mayor to lies, crime, and corruption within Gotham City. And, perhaps most integrally, a small green envelope has been left at the scene, featuring one of the villain's trademark riddles scrawled in a greeting card and addressed directly to the Batman. Now, here's the thing, as pinpointed by Giant Freakin Robot: featured on the front of the card is an owl, with a skeleton behind it. In an ordinary superhero film, you could perhaps write this off as an in-joke, a random occurrence, or perhaps just a set designer who really likes owls. In The Batman, though? This is a detective story, featuring the Riddler as the villain, so presumably, every single little clue matters. The choice to feature an owl on this card is, almost certainly, intentional. 

Now, taking this into account, pay attention to how the trailer ends, with the Riddler's voice telling an unmasked (and seemingly traumatized) Bruce Wayne, "You're a part of this, too." What does this all mean? Well, for fans of the comics, it's easy to see how these two moments could be inextricably linked, even without knowing exactly what the Riddler's endgame might be. Because owls have a special meaning in Gotham, and the Wayne family legacy might not be as spotless as Bruce thinks it is.

A Court of Owls haunts Gotham's streets

Frankly, bringing a new version of Batman to today's audiences, amidst the growing anger that people feel toward billionaires, means confronting some of the inherent class issues in Batman's origins. From a certain point of view, Bruce Wayne is an ultra-privileged billionaire who uses his wealth and power to beat up poor people, instead of addressing systemic inequalities at the source (there are plenty of stories that show him doing exactly that during his day job, but the internet is no place for nuance). When examined closely, these issues undermine Batman's whole crusade — a concern brilliantly addressed in Sean Murphy's White Knight comics, as Screen Rant explains — and that seems to be a topic Reeves is not going to shy away from. 

How so? Because it sure looks like this Gotham has a little "Court of Owls" problem. First introduced in 2011, the Court of Owls are a creepy secret society, comprised of Gotham's wealthiest and most powerful families, who wear equally creepy owl masks. Since the 1600s, these families have controlled Gotham behind the scenes, enforcing the atmosphere of crime, inequality, and corruption that makes it such an infamously bloody city to live in. When targeted assassinations are deemed necessary, the Court uses orphaned children, raised to become "Talons," to carry out their mission. 

Before you ask: no, Thomas and Martha Wayne weren't in on this Owl business. In fact, the comics depict them at odds with the Court's whole conspiracy, as Polygon explains. However, the Wayne family's power and influence still inextricably link them to this whole nightmare, and one Talon even believes himself to be Bruce Wayne's previously unknown little brother. So, if the Court of Owls are part of The Batman's plot, Pattinson's young Batman is about have his entire M.O. upended in a big way. 

The Batman will hit theaters on October 1, 2021.