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The Untold Truth Of Robert Pattinson's The Batman

The release of filmmaker Matt Reeves' "The Batman" marks a new chapter written in the cinematic history of the "Batman" franchise. Starring Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader, the movie features a stacked cast of supporting talent that includes Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, and Colin Farrell.

Reeves and Pattinson present a fresh take on the legend of the Dark Knight for the next generation of audiences. Indeed, there is a certain prestige related to "Batman" movies that elevate them above the typical superhero popcorn fare. Fans hope for not just lots of fun action and adventure but also something intellectually stimulating. And from what we have seen and heard about the movie so far, Matt Reeves seems intent on delivering all that and more. 

From interviews to teasers, there are plenty of lesser-known facts about "The Batman" out there. Let's take a look at some of the most interesting.

It originally starred Ben Affleck

It is no secret to anyone that the DC extended universe (DCEU) is in a bit of a mess right now. Being too eager to catch up with the MCU did not work in the DCEU's favor, and past attempts at setting up a DC cinematic universe have led to mixed results to say the least. "The Batman" in its initial stages was part of the fallout from those early attempts at world-building.

Back in the mid-2010s, Ben Affleck was attached to star in, write, and direct a standalone "Batman" movie that would take place within the DCEU. The actor had already ironed out a script for the film while he worked on 2017's "Justice League." Unfortunately, Affleck's experiences on the sets of "Justice League" and in his personal life proved so draining that he decided to step away from the DCEU for the time being (via The New York Times).

Warner Bros. scrambled to fill the hole left by Affleck, and his standalone "Batman" movie was reconfigured into a new project helmed by Matt Reeves with a fresh actor taking on the role of the Caped Crusader. For his part, Reeves described the script Affleck had written to Esquire as "a totally valid and exciting take. It is almost James Bond-ian, but it wasn't something that I quite related to." And so Reeves set to work retooling "The Batman" from the ground up to better suit his personal vision for a new standalone "Batman" franchise.  

It's inspired by the comics

Comic book movie directors often fall into one of two categories: They try to remove as many traces of the comic book world from the movie as they can, as Bryan Singer did with the first two "X-Men" films, or they embrace the comic book source with glee like Sam Raimi did with his "Spider-Man" movies. In the case of "The Batman," Matt Reeves seems to be trying for the best of both worlds.

The filmmaker has often spoken about wanting to ground the world of the Caped Crusader in the gritty real world and move away from the over-the-top Bat-shenanigans from the comics and cartoons. But he has been equally vocal about his appreciation for the Caped Crusader's comics legacy. Some of the comic series that Reeves has praised and credited with inspiring "The Batman" are "Year One" (1987), "The Long Halloween" (1996–97), and "Ego" (2000).

Reeves took bits and pieces of "Batman" mythology to craft the story for his film, which explores a young Batman in the early stages of his career being confronted with multiple enemies as he tries to work out the new threat to Gotham posed by Paul Dano's Riddler. So rather than getting yet another origin story, audiences get a fresh "Batman" adventure directly based on the character's rich history from the comics but set in the real world.

Jonah Hill almost played one of the villains

Being a part of the "Batman" universe is considered a badge of honor even among "prestige" actors, and the Dark Knight is a guaranteed money-spinner at the box office. Those two aspects of the franchise collided when news leaked that Jonah Hill was in talks to play one of the main villains in "The Batman." It was never made clear which villain Hill was asked to play, with some sources suggesting the actor could have had his pick of playing either the Riddler or the Penguin. Hill remained in negotiations with the studio over his role for a few months until news came that they had come to a deadlock, and Hill had left the project.  

The actual reasons behind the actor walking away from "The Batman" were never made public, but Variety film reporter Justin Kroll claimed that the issue was that Hill wanted to be paid more than Pattinson for his role. In the end, Paul Dano took over the role of the Riddler, while Colin Farrell was roped in to bring a new version of the Penguin to life.

The shoot was very difficult

There are a lot of expectations riding on "The Batman" from both fans and the studio. And any pressure the cast and crew of the movie felt before became insanely compounded once the actual shoot for the project began. Principal photography kick-started in January 2020, and the shoot for "The Batman" rapidly got underway, only to screech to a halt mere months later with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

After months of forced inactivity, the shoot began again under very strict new rules designed to keep infection at bay. Despite the best efforts of the people on set, COVID-19 cases did pop up from time to time. The biggest concern for the studio was when the star of the movie, Robert Pattinson himself, came down with the infection and had to be quickly cleared for isolation and other preventive measures.

Fortunately, Pattinson recovered from his illness after a time and resumed shooting, but it wasn't the only incident that proved detrimental to his health while shooting "The Batman." The actor revealed during an interview with GQ that he broke his wrist while playing the role of the Caped Crusader even before the pandemic had begun. The actor also admitted feeling very alone and mentally stressed while making the film because "the nature of the shoot was so kind of insular, always shooting at night, just really dark all the time."  

It might expand the universe

Nowadays, whenever a new superhero movie gets made, one of the first questions that get asked is if it's a standalone flick like 2019's "Joker" or part of a larger cinematic universe. Notably, Matt Reeves himself has stated that he wants to keep his Dark Knight separate from the DCEU.

But there is room for hope that "The Batman" will eventually expand into a larger cinematic universe where Robert Pattinson's Caped Crusader meets other superheroes from DC. For example, "The Flash" officially makes DCEU part of a multiverse where heroes from different realities can interact. Then there were the photos leaked from the sets of "The Batman," which appear to show partygoers dressed up as Superman and other DC superheroes, indicating that other major DC characters have some sort of presence in its universe. 

Finally, there is the tie-in novel "Before the Batman: An Original Movie Novel (The Batman)" that has already been released. The novel is aimed at a younger audience, and it is not confirmed how much of it is canon to "The Batman." But the book does make mention of both Metropolis and Lex Luthor at certain points, indicating that Superman's home city and arch-enemy both already exist in that world in some capacity.   

The Riddler's motivation is explored

One of the biggest reasons fans are excited about "The Batman" is Paul Dano's new take on The Riddler. Previously, the character was played to campy heights by Jim Carrey in "Batman Forever." The trailer for "The Batman" emphasizes that Dano's Riddler is a far more grounded character who brings actual menace to the big screen.

Several clues littered throughout the promos for the movie indicate that Riddler already knows about Batman's secret identity. But even more hints are given in the tie-in novel — "Before the Batman: An Original Movie Novel (The Batman)" — as to the Riddler's motivations and his connection to both Batman and Bruce Wayne. In the book, it is stated that before becoming Riddler, Dano's character was an orphan named Edward Nashton.

From a young age, Edward was teased for his lowly status in society and obsession with puzzles. Watching Bruce Wayne grow up near to him, Edward became increasingly jealous of the rich and privileged youth. While studying to become a forensic expert, Edward uncovered a vast web of corruption entrenched deep in the highest offices of Gotham that had rotted the city from the inside, with the Wayne family involved in the conspiracy in some manner. Thus, Edward holds Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego Batman responsible for the crumbling state of their city.

It's based on '70s cinema

For some reason, filmmakers who take on the "Batman" franchise love to base their movies on increasingly older crime cinema. When Christopher Nolan was making "The Dark Knight," one of the most obvious sources of inspiration for him was the 1995 action-drama "Heat," right down to the opening scene with the bank robbery.

After that, filmmaker Todd Phillips went a decade further back while looking for inspiration for 2019's "Joker." A huge Martin Scorsese fan, Phillips' movie pays homage to and closely follows the character beats from both 1982's "The King of Comedy" and 1976's "Taxi Driver" (per Esquire). With "The Batman," Matt Reeves continues the journey back in time as he looked for inspiration from action and crime drama from the early '70s.  

As the filmmaker tells Esquire, he looked to not just movies from that era — including 1971's "The French Connection," 1974's "Chinatown," and "Taxi Driver" — but music as well. Specifically, Kurt Cobain's song "Something in the Way," which can be heard playing over the trailer for "The Batman." Reeves even compares Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne to the legendary singer, explaining, "[Bruce] is a kind of drug addict. His drug is his addiction to this drive for revenge. He's like a Batman Kurt Cobain."

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There's real-life inspiration

The Riddler is one of the most colorful villains in Batman's rogues' gallery — a cackling, conceited criminal who likes to show off his intellect by leaving a trail of clues and puzzles for the police and Batman. But the version of the character played by Paul Dano that shows up in the trailer for "The Batman" is anything but colorful or playful. 

Instead, this Riddler dresses up in drab green work clothes that prioritize efficiency over style and brutally kills his victims as part of a mysterious agenda to expose the deep-rooted corruption in Gotham city. Fans were quick to notice the similarities between Dano's Riddler and one of the most infamous real-life serial killers known as the Zodiac Killer, who was noted for taunting the police with codes and puzzles relating to the crimes he committed. 

"The premise of the movie is that the Riddler is kind of molded in an almost Zodiac Killer sort of mode," Matt Reeves confirmed in an interview with MovieMaker.com, going on to add, "In the wake of the murders, [Riddler] reveals the ways in which these people were not everything they said they were, and you start to realize there's some kind of association." So it seems while the latest Riddler is following the Zodiac Killer template, his goals are more far-reaching than simple personal gratification.

It was inspired by previous Batmen

There are few characters in cinema that have been played by as many distinguished actors over the years as Batman. From Adam West to Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, and Robert Pattinson, each new actor has changed the mythology of the character in significant ways and had a lasting impact on pop culture.  

Naturally, it can be hard to put a new spin on the character without taking into consideration what previous actors have done with the role. But that is exactly what Matt Reeves wanted Pattinson to do. "Even Matt was like, don't watch the other [Batman films]," the actor revealed during an interview with GQ. "But I was like, I've already seen all the other movies, and they're incredibly familiar to me, and I like all the other movies." 

Calling all the other interpretations of Batman "really good," Pattinson declined to name a favorite among all the previous actors who have portrayed the Dark Knight. But he did single Christian Bale out for particular praise, calling his version of the Batman voice "iconic" and admitting it was almost impossible not to try to imitate the actor's growl for his own take on the character.  

Colin Farrell's transformation stunned his castmate

One of the most unexpected choices Matt Reeves made with "The Batman" was casting Irish heartthrob Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin. Fans wondered whether the actor's dashing looks would be a good fit for the portly supervillain, but Farrell's actual features are practically unrecognizable under mounds of prosthetic makeup in his role. 

Not only has the actor been fitted with a suit that makes him look heavier than he is, but his facial features have also been heavily reworked to give him a scarred, beefy look much more in line with a gluttonous villain than a male model. After watching Farrell in his new avatar, fans took to social media to express their shock at his transformation. As it turns out, even a castmate who saw Farrell up close on set was taken in by his convincing prosthetics.   

Jeffrey Wright, who appears as Commissioner Gordon in "The Batman," declared he was unable to recognize Farrell when the latter was dressed up as his character on the sets of their movie. "Colin walked onto set one day," Wright told SiriusXM. "And I walked right past him [without recognizing him]." It's not just the look — Farrell appears to have changed his entire body language and manner of speech while playing Penguin in the trailers for "The Batman," proving Reeves knew what he was doing when he cast the actor in the role.  

It's influenced by the cartoons

"Batman" live-action movies have the rare distinction of getting critical acclaim in terms of Oscar nominations and wins in addition to being money spinners. But despite the prestige associated with the movies, many hard-core fans argue that the best stories about the Dark Knight are the ones told in the animation medium, specifically "Batman: The Animated Series" and its spinoff shows and films.

One such animated film that has stood out from the rest is 1993's "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm." The movie is often cited by fans as one of the best "Batman" movie ever made, where the Caped Crusader is pushed to the brink not just physically but psychologically by the appearance of a new, blood-thirsty vigilante in Gotham known only as the Phantasm. "Mask of the Phantasm" does a deep dive into the mental state of Bruce Wayne and the struggles that push him to become Batman. 

This is something Robert Pattinson thinks connects the animated feature to his own upcoming film. "Batman is someone more ... unstable," the actor told Premiere France (via Game Rant). "If you read between the lines, it's actually very sad ... In my opinion, the only other [film] to achieve this is the animated film 'Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm.' When I saw it, it clicked: being Batman is a kind of curse, it's a burden ... I don't think we've ever really seen that in a live film."

Catwoman gets her origin story

We have seen many versions of Catwoman on the big screen over the years. There's Selina Kyle as played by Michelle Pfeiffer, a mousy secretary who becomes the overtly sexy thief after a near-death experience. There's Halle Berry's Patience Phillips, who gets a power-up from a magic cat that turns her into the whip-wielding anti-heroine. Finally, there's Anne Hathaway's take on a poised and experienced Selina Kyle, who has been operating as an expert cat burglar in Gotham for years. 

Now Zoe Kravitz is ready to make the character her own in "The Batman" as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. With so many versions of the famous Gotham siren already familiar to audiences, Kravitz has her work cut out for her. But the actress believes she has an ace up her sleeve with regards to her role — she gets to enact Selina's emotional journey to becoming Catwoman.    

"To see a person like Selina really get in touch with her power and become Catwoman? That's a journey that I'm really interested in exploring," Kravitz explained to Total Film. "We haven't quite seen that yet. We usually meet Catwoman, and it's either a very quick transformation – an overnight thing – or she's already there. And so to find the emotional journey that brings her to the place where she is making the choice to be this person is what I'm really excited about."

It was always meant to be Pattinson

When it was first announced that "The Batman" would see Robert Pattinson in the lead role, a certain section of the fandom was outraged. There were claims made that the actor — best known as Edward the sparkling vampire from the "Twilight" series — simply did not have the physicality to take on the role of the Caped Crusader.

But for Matt Reeves, the choice was a simple one, especially after he saw Pattinson in 2017's critically acclaimed movie "Good Time," in which the actor plays a lowly criminal trying to get his brother out of jail. "I watched 'Good Time,'" Reeves told Esquire, "and I thought, 'Okay, [Pattinson's] got an inner kind of rage that connects with this character and a dangerousness, and I can feel this desperation.' And I became dead-set on [Batman] being Rob." 

While Reeves imagined Pattinson as the lead while writing "The Batman," he had no idea if the actor would want to give up doing indie movies to get back into blockbuster filmmaking. As it turned out, Pattinson is a huge "Batman" fan and was looking for a way to be a part of Reeves' project. The actor jumped at the chance to audition for the role — he wore the Batman suit with nipples originally worn by Val Kilmer in "Batman Forever" during his audition, and the rest is history.