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Breaking Down Every Second Of The Batman's First Trailer

In August 2020, Warner Bros. created DC FanDome — an unconventional "immersive virtual fan experience." Throughout the 24-hour online extravaganza, participants were treated to sneak peeks, behind the scenes footage, and interviews. The concept of the DC multiverse was also introduced — establishing sorely needed continuity within DC's live-action franchises. One of FanDome's highlights featured an in-depth interview with director Matt Reeves concerning The Batman, a DCEU movie slated for release in 2021.

After nearly thirty minutes of emphatic, heartfelt discussion detailing his lifelong passion for Batman, along with the catalysts fueling his current project, Reeves rewarded salivating fans with a long-anticipated teaser. Although less than a third of the film has been shot, the studio managed to present some intriguing footage, set to Nirvana's eerie recording of "Something in the Way." The story already feels complete and cohesive, hinting at a somber tale centering around a young, unseasoned Batman, pursuing a homicidal Riddler wreaking havoc on Gotham. The gritty, noir tone and thriller-mystery plot are reminiscent of Chinatown and other '70s "street-grounded" films cited by Reeves as primary influences. Excited by what they've seen so far, fans across the internet have already spent countless hours deciphering every second of the trailer — including those of us at Looper. Here's everything you can see in the first teaser for The Batman, broken down moment by moment.

The murder of Mayor Don Mitchell, Jr.

Before Nirvana's somber melody is first heard, the trailer begins with unnerving duct tape sounds heralding a black screen. Crimson Warner Bros. and DC logos flash quickly past, followed by glimpses of a nearly unrecognizable Riddler crouched over a body in a posh uptown office. Wrapped in a bottle green trench coat, with his gloved hands gripping duct tape — and goggles protecting a face and head already covered in a dark mask, it is clear this is an unprecedented and unsettling onscreen interpretation of the Riddler.

In place of the goofy, slapstick character many have come to associate with Edward "Nigma" Nashton, the screen is haunted by a puzzle-obsessed serial killer who is cold, calculating, and terrifying — more akin to antagonists in The Zodiac Killer or Seven than Jim Carrey spewing silly puns in spandex. The viewer's initial disquiet is further reinforced by a gratuitous close-up of the face of the Riddler's victim, smothered in duct tape — upon which ominous blood-red letters spell out "No more lies," all while a wheezing exhale can be heard across the background silence.

Is that the victim's final expiration, or Riddler's victorious exhalation? Resolution is purposely ambiguous, leading to the first of many questions unearthed in this trailer — which, like any good mystery, sparks far more inquiry than it supplies satisfactory answers. After another black screen flashes, cue Nirvana and the rest of the teaser.

A weird figure of the dark emerges

As Nirvana's cover of "Something in the Way ” drifts through the speakers, the camera cuts to trailing behind a young James Gordon (played by the massively talented Jeffrey Wright) walking down an office hallway. Gotham City Police line the walls, casting furtive, nervous glances at the person behind him. Batman is on the scene, and it's clear his budding relationship with the police force is a tenuous one.

Reeves has pointed to Mike W. Barr's Batman: Year 2 as one of the primary comic book influences for this movie, so unlike many previous Batman films, the story for The Batman focuses on the early years of his vigilante career. At only a year and a half into his role as Batman, Bruce Wayne has yet to figure out his place in Gotham or how to implement the change he envisions for his city, not to mention whether to establish a positive working relationship with the GCPD.

Thus, at this point in time, Batman is more of an urban legend than a renowned caped crusader, and as a result, his appearance strikes fear into the hearts of everyone, even the "good guys." It's true that Batman remains an intimidating figure decades later, but at least members of the general public have learned to recognize him as a force for good — unlike the era examined in Reeves' timeline, when he was still just a violent weirdo in a bat suit.

Investigating a puzzling crime scene

Quick shots depict police investigators examining the crime scene, and sharp-eyed viewers will make note of a plethora of clues — one of the more notable being the victim's hand shrouded by a brown paper bag for some unknown reason. Perhaps it has been disfigured in some unsettling way, or it could have been put in place to hide a ring displaying some sort of family crest or other sensitive information.

In addition to this quick clue, framed newspaper clippings line the office walls, all defaced in a manner similar to the victim's duct taped visage, with the word "LIES" written in what appears to be blood. From these clippings, one can deduce the unfortunate fellow who once owned this office was Mayor Don Mitchell, Jr., who's just won an unprecedented third term over an opponent named "Bella Real." Although she doesn't appear in the trailer, it's been confirmed this character will be played in the film by Jayme Lawson — so perhaps she has a vendetta against Mitchell which ultimately connects her to his murder.

Bella Real is either a new character being presented in a DC tale for the first time, or a cover for Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl — whom fans argue could still make a surprise appearance. Passionately citing the red herring-esque character name, while clinging to the fact that Barbara Gordon did run for political office in the comics, fans may very well be correct — or Bella Real is actually just a new character after all. Time will tell.

Hints of deep-seated corruption permeate the Gotham air

Additional nuggets can be mined from some of the other headlines plastered on Mitchell's walls, such as "Seawall Construction Stalled?" and "Maroni Drug Bust!" These both seem to have pertinent implications to the Batman plot, especially the latter. Salvatore "The Boss" Maroni has long been noted as the mob leader responsible for throwing acid in Harvey Dent's face — transforming an amiable, courteous district attorney into the villainous, mentally unstable villain known as Two-Face.

This strongly hints at the possibility this beloved character exists in Reeves' world, and may even make an appearance during The Batman – a theory further supported with the director hinting that Batman's "Rogues Gallery" served as one of his film's influences. The Maroni headline is also interesting, because it seems rather out of place alongside the mayor's other accolades. Why would Mitchell be the primary force behind a drug bust of a renowned local mafia figure, rather than the Gotham police department?

Since Reeves has made it clear this murder-mystery focuses on deep-seated corruption in Gotham City, perhaps the "lies" noted by Riddler will bring to light a connection between the former mayor and local mob bosses. The Maroni mafia are mortal enemies with their rivals, the Falcone family — so perhaps the mayor made a deal with Falcone to bust the Maronis and eliminate the gangster's black market competition in exchange for winning that "historic" third term. John Turturro plays the part of Carmine Falcone, so it will be interesting to see where his story arc leads.

Batman is presented with a mysterious card

Also found at the scene of the crime is an intriguing card planted on Mayor Mitchell's body by the Riddler. Its vibrant green envelope is a nod to the villain's iconic garb from the comics, and provides a reminder of the stark contrast between the character's colorful origins and Reeves' new noir interpretation. It is addressed specifically to Batman, which Gordon seems to find strange, prompting him to ask "Any of this mean anything to you?"

On the front of the card there's a colorful Halloween-themed image, complete with a playful skeleton, bat, and owl, asking "From your secret friend. Whoo?" The owl can most likely be interpreted as a pointed reference to the Court of Owls, a secret organized crime group with deep ties to Gotham's elite — including the Wayne family.

If the Court is connected to this film's plot, Bruce is likely to discover dark things concerning his family's past during The Batman, leading him to question his parents' potential implications in Gotham's repeated issues with corruption. The card's holiday theme may also be a reference to another inspiration for Reeves — Batman: The Long Halloween, a 13-issue comic book series centering around conflict between Maroni and Falcone. All of this would loop things back to the Maroni headline framed on Mayor Mitchell's wall.

Inside lie more riddles

Over Kurt Cobain's gloomy vocals, Wright's voice can be heard reading the rest of Riddler's intriguing card. "Haven't a clue? Let's play a game, just me and you..." Hand-printed inside, in the same childish scrawl seen on the outside of the green envelope, large, Riddler-esque question marks accentuate the inquiries — along with the query "What does a liar do when he's dead?"

The answer to this cryptic question is written alongside it as a series of mysterious glyphs that have yet to be deciphered — unless, of course, internet users like Reddit member Diorollsa20 and Erik Voss of New Rockstars are correct. According to their deductions, which would make Batman himself proud, the answer reads, "He lies still." This simple, dark pun matches Riddler's style, and provides insight into his brilliance and perspective — he sees a liar as still capable of perpetuating deceit after his death — unless, that is, the living do something to rectify it.

This type of behavior also matches the Ed Nigma that Batman fans have come to know from the Arkham games — let's just hope Batman doesn't have to hunt for hundreds of Riddler trophies in order for Reeves' movie to end, or it could wind up being a several-hour affair! Then again, based on what's been revealed of The Batman so far, that might not be such a bad thing after all.

The Gotham PD holds a post-murder press conference

Next in the story as revealed so far in the first teaser for The Batman, we see what appears to be a massive press conference concerning Mayor Mitchell's murder being held by the Gotham City Police Department. Speaking at the press conference is Commissioner Pete Savage, played by Alex Ferns, flanked by a cluster of GCPD officers, a distraught-looking Gordon, and a crying woman dressed in black — likely Mayor Mitchell's grieving wife. The smug-looking man off to the left is Police Chief Mackenzie Bock, as played by Chernobyl's Con O'Neill.

This canon character hails from the DC comic book series "No Man's Land" — in which he's depicted as a rogue anti-hero and Dirty Harry type who goes by the nickname "Hardback," earned for his voracious reading appetite. In the "No Man's Land" storyline, Bock also splits with the Gotham City Police Department, only to form alliances with criminals like Oswald Cobblepot in an effort to aid a post-apocalyptic Gotham. This sets an interesting context for O'Neill's character, who has never appeared onscreen before.

Meanwhile, throughout the press conference, a shadowy Batman watches silently from afar, complete with smudged black eye makeup and a gaiter pulled up to obscure his face.

Bruce takes a somber motorcycle ride to the Batcave

After spying on Bock's press conference from afar, Batman departs on a motorcycle, riding through a cemetery before pulling up to a cavernous, damp, poorly lit space littered with various pieces of computer tech and fabrication equipment. It appears to be an underground room akin to a proto-Batcave — with the barely visible words "Wayne Terminal" etched into the overhead stone archway.

This brings up yet even more questions concerning The Batman's evolving plotline and character arcs. First, what is this space — some sort of abandoned subway station once operated by the Waynes? Does its damp appearance link it to the "stalled seawall construction" mentioned in one of the newspaper clippings defaced on Mayor Mitchell's walls?

Bruce would certainly have the power and disposable wealth to stop construction potentially interfering with his secret base of operations. Plus, an abandoned subway linking to an underground network beneath the city would certainly be an ideal way to travel throughout Gotham in a stealthy and efficient manner. If Batman is responsible for blocking public operations related to waterways, the seawall mentioned could also be a reference to Reeves' Chinatown inspiration — since its plot focuses on the shocking history of California's disputed water rights laws and the war over access to its supply.

A very explosive funeral procession is held

A cunningly crafted rear shot of Batman removing his motorcycle helmet in the Batcave cuts to a front shot of a grim-looking Bruce Wayne attending Mayor Mitchell's funeral, taking place inside what appears to be Gotham City Cathedral. Suddenly, a black SUV crashes through the church doors, almost killing a young boy standing directly in its path. Thankfully, Bruce acts in time to save the boy — who appears to be Mitchell's grieving wife's son.

The car is covered with the letters "DOA" written in spray paint, which seems to be Riddler's idea of a sick joke referencing the medical term "dead on arrival." Out of the vehicle steps an unfortunate soul with a cell phone taped to one hand, an explosive device strapped to his neck, and a yellow envelope addressed to Batman duct-taped to his chest.

At this point in the trailer, Andy Serkis' voice as Bruce Wayne's father figure and faithful manservant Alfred Pennyworth can be heard asking, "Why is he writing to you?" Batman is then seen in the now-evacuated church attempting to save the doomed man while a bomb-disarming robot stands by, only for the bomb to violently explode in a massive fireball — throwing Batman backwards in the process. Director Matt Reeves has noted that the corruption in Gotham City will lead to troubling implications for Bruce and the Wayne family legacy, which may be why the Riddler is addressing Batman in his puzzling writings.

The Catburglar is spotted at the scene of the crime

Like the Joker, Catwoman is a quintessential character in any Batman development story — unlike Joker, however, it has been confirmed that Selina Kyle will be a pivotal part of this film. Played by Zoë Kravitz, who makes an unforgettable splash in the first trailer for The Batman, Catwoman is first glimpsed breaking into a safe at the Mayor Mitchell crime scene.

Whether she is working independently or in cahoots with other criminal parties — such as the Riddler, Falcone, Maroni, or the Court of Owls — remains to be revealed. Don't be surprised, however, if this kitty prefers to forge her own path rather than throwing in with other powerful parties. Later in the trailer, Catwoman has an altercation with Batman, which longtime fans recognize as the equivalent of flirting for these "frenemies."

Reeves has stated the audience will see not just Batman, but all of his film's iconic characters during the infant years of their character development — which means they will all be unrefined, and still in the midst of attempting to discover their true natures. In addition to witnessing the evolution of the "world's greatest detective," the Cat-Bat dance in Reeves' world will be fresh, Selina may not even have formally ironed out her Catwoman identity yet, and Oswald Cobblepot hasn't yet embraced the moniker "Penguin."

A meeting takes a wrong turn at the Sanitation Depot

The Batman teaser trailer then leads to a rainy night outside a building bearing the sign "Gotham Recycling: City of Gotham Sanitation Eastside Depot," with Oswald Cobblepot (played by a wildly transformed Colin Farrell) standing alongside other criminals in an apparent meeting — while Batman once again watches from afar. Farrell's prosthetics and makeup make him look so vastly different, in fact, that Jeffrey Wright reportedly confused his co-star for a complete stranger.

Cobblepot's meeting at the sanitation depot is an even further implication of corruption involving Falcone, as the docks in that area are one of his primary "business" locations. In another interesting twist, this part of Gotham is also home to Crime Alley — the very location where Thomas and Martha Wayne met their untimely demise, ultimately leading their grieving young son to adopt his vigilante Batman persona years later. If the Waynes were somehow involved in Gotham's corruption, they may well have had enemies with dark motives for having them shot when Bruce was a child.

After a few other images flash past, the trailer cuts back to a shootout back at the Sanitation Depot between two groups of men, one of whom is an enraged Cobblepot. What exactly leads to this bullet-ridden altercation has yet to be seen — but everyone knows mob bosses don't meet at sanitation centers to kill germs.

Batman shares his vengeance with street thugs

Bruce Wayne mastered multiple martial arts in his quest to become Gotham's greatest defender, making him quite a mess to tangle with in a corner. This is a lesson a group of street thugs in the first teaser for The Batman learn the hard way when they threaten him with steely glares and dangerous implements. Interestingly, they all have painted faces reminiscent of Dia de los Muertos, with two in particular posing a passing resemblance to the Joker and Two-Face.

This arguably offers another reference to the archetypal villains, and begs the question — do these tough guys know who Joker and Two-Face are, and are they paying homage to them with their makeup in a manner similar to the Joker's Gang from the Arkham series? Whatever their origins, one of the thug has the audacity to ask Batman "The hell are you supposed to be?" Before he can say "Ha," Bats destroys the street thug's arm and face with a rapid-fire series of joint locks and punches — which continue long after his would-be opponent's jaw can be heard breaking as he collapses to the ground in agony.

While the rest of the gang watches in terror, with iPhones recording and eyes brimming with awe, Batman rises from the ground and growls, "I am vengeance." Reeves' vision for The Batman offers a unique take on the established mythology of these characters in a number of ways, and this sequence is a good example of how: Such raw displays of Batman's barely contained rage are rarely seen in live-action adaptations, instead mostly restricted to the comic books or animation. It's quite a sight to behold, and will make it difficult for fans to wait until The Batman's 2021 release date for more.

Viewers witness the creation of the Batsuit

Robert Pattinson's Batsuit as seen in the first teaser for The Batman resembles modified riot gear, which sounds like material Bruce Wayne would have easy access to in the early years of his crimefighting career. The bat symbol on his chest appears to be forged from a gun, which could the very one that killed his parents, à la the plot of Detective Comics #1000. The bat on his suit also appears to have retractable blades, leading fans to speculate that the two halves may serve as functional Batarangs — a literal expression of the way Bruce Wayne used the murder of his parents to turn himself into a weapon against evil.

Sharp-eyed DC fans have noted that the quills lining the Batsuit's forearms resemble those sported by the Talon — a villainous assassin who serves the Court of Owls. If so, this is another interesting implied connection between the Court and the corruption infecting Reeves' Gotham.

It also appears the creation of the Batsuit will be part of the film's plot, as viewers get glimpses of Bruce assembling the suit under dim red light. During his FanDome interview, Reeves also mentioned the important role feedback from the cast played in costume design. Pattinson in particular took cues from Christian Bale to ensure his incarnation of the iconic suit allows him to easily use the restroom when needed — proving that Batman is not only a badass, he's also highly practical.

Violence erupts between Batman and the GCPD

Tension between Batman and Gotham's police force is a repeated theme from canonic DC material — in which it takes years for Batman to cultivate a sense of trust with James Gordon during the latter's ascension to commissioner of the force, while the majority of the GCPD remains skeptical at best. Once Batman has his trust, Gordon remains a tireless conduit between Gotham's police enforcement and the shadowy vigilante who goes outside the law to fight crime.

This aspect of their relationship is suggested in the trailer, in which Gordon is shown de-escalating a fight between Batman and a group of officers. However, the peace doesn't last — a later scene shows Batman escaping up a stairwell via the use of his nifty grappling hook, as gunfire rings around him from police officers below.

Batman's conflict with the Gotham City Police Department may have something to do with his unveiling layers of corruption within the police department, which would lay the foundation for a spinoff prequel series slated to air on HBO Max. The as-yet unnamed show is inspired by Batman: Year One, and will expand upon the film's examination of corruption in Gotham City, Gordon's relationship with his fellow peace officers, and his blossoming bond with Batman.

The director's vision for the Batmobile is unveiled

It's not a proper Batman movie without the Batmobile, and this trailer delivers glances of Reeves' vision for this quintessential vehicle. Thoughtful design has granted Reeves' version of the Batmobile with gorgeous body lines reminiscent of classic, old school Detroit muscle cars — and powered by a gloriously insane, rear-mounted turbine engine spitting white-hot flames and fed by what appears to be massive twin turbos.

The frame has been modified into a race-quality tube chassis, wrapped in a custom, paper-thin, sheet metal body with a vented front hood — which spews flames for some reason, even though combustion takes place in the back. Whatever, this ride doesn't have to make sense, it's as hot and angry as young Bruce Wayne's unbridled wrath — and as hot and bothered as gearheads and Bats fans around the world after seeing it briefly in action.

Cobblepot also gets fired up when this street beast trails in mad pursuit, causing him to exclaim, "This guy's crazy!" Yes he is — and so is that car.

Batman is faced with a troubling enigma

The latter part of the first teaser trailer for The Batman reverberates with the Riddler's voice. "If you are justice, please do not lie!" Riddler's heard saying. "What is the price for your blind eye?" This rhyming taunt is another clue implying Batman will have to take a long, hard look at issues close to home — like his own family's corrupt past. That's just a theory, however — the audience will have to wait and see what exactly Batman may be ignorant of.

This epic trailer comes winds down with a dramatic crescendo accompanied by a crimson-red movie logo, complete with Reeves' unique Batman symbol. Shortly following is a shot of Batman back in the Batcave, where his eyes are locked on computer screens as he removes his cowl. While the Batmobile lurks in the background, Riddler's voice can be heard yet again, claiming Batman is "part of this too." Batman asks in return, "How am I part of this?" — to which Riddler cryptically replies, "You'll see."

This self-aware, psychological dive harkens to other noted influences from comic books, including Darwin Cooke's brilliantly insightful Batman: Ego. Bruce Wayne's tired, haunted eyes, surrounded by smudged black eye makeup, pierce the screen with all the melancholy anger fans have come to expect from screen depictions of the World's Greatest Detective. The year "2021," with the twos replaced by Riddler-esque question marks, flashes across the screen, followed by the declaration, "Only in theaters. Currently in production."

That's an awful lot for fans to unpack in just a few moments of footage, yet it's just enough to leave Bat-fans craving more. For those yearning to see the Dark Knight back on the big screen again, 2021 never felt so far away.