Batman Producer Addresses Robert Pattinson Casting Backlash

Veteran Batman franchise producer Michael E. Uslan advises detractors upset with Robert Pattinson’s casting in The Batman to trust the vision of director Matt Reeves.

“My position is this: trust the filmmaker and give the filmmaker, and the filmmaker’s vision, the benefit of the doubt. Then wait ’til you see the movie,” Uslan said at Germany’s CCXP Cologne convention.

“And then once you see the movie, judge the hell out of it. But I think that’s really the formula going forward. I couldn’t be happier, I couldn’t be more enthused, as a Batman fan, that Matt Reeves is the filmmaker in charge and has selected Robert Pattinson to be his next Batman.”

Uslan shepherded Batman blockbusters headlined by big-name movie stars Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck — but the latest actor donning the cape and cowl of the Dark Knight must always be the Robin to the real star.

“The star of the Batman movies is Bruce Wayne. Batman is the star. Batman is who everyone wants to see, along with the supervillains, so how does a filmmaker make the choice of which actor to cast? And I think the real key question for fans, and for all of us to focus on, is the filmmaker,” Uslan said.

“So we’ve seen the genius of Tim Burton, we have seen the genius of Christopher Nolan. The question becomes: is there a filmmaker who you see has a knowledge of a character, has an understanding of a character, a passion and a love for the character? Does that filmmaker have a vision for the character? And if so, does he or she, do you believe, know how to execute that vision? And if you can answer those questions successfully, then for me, my role is to become the world’s number one cheerleader. And you have to trust in your filmmakers.”

Reflecting on the casting of Mr. Mom and Beetlejuice funnyman Keaton as Burton’s moody caped crusader, Uslan noted the decision famously ignited “an uproar like the world had never seen before.”

“And understand, this was before computers and before social media, and before there were comic book conventions all over the planet. Just in mainstream media, this became the hottest, most controversial topic all over,” Uslan said.

“The fans were up in arms: ‘How can you have a comedian play Batman? You guys are gonna revert it back to the 1960s show, you’re gonna destroy Batman.’ Until they saw the movie and saw what Tim Burton’s vision was, and how he executed it. And then the fans never wanted anyone else to be Batman.”

Similar fits of fury — and a subsequent amount of eating crow — followed when franchise inheritor Nolan rebooted the Joker in The Dark Knight and Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises.

“Then we jump a little bit ahead of time. We have a new filmmaker in by the name of Christopher Nolan. And word goes out that for The Dark Knight he is casting Heath Ledger as the Joker. The fan reaction was berserk,” Uslan said of the Brokeback Mountain star.

“’How dare you cast some gay cowboy to play the Joker? He’ll destroy the character forever!’ And then of course after they see the movie, they never want anyone else to be the Joker. And it repeated again with Anne Hathaway, when it was announced she would play Catwoman, because she was not the obvious choice. People were thinking maybe Angelina Jolie or somebody, and ‘oh, she’s the girl next door, she could never do it.’ And then she did this brilliant, brilliant job.”

The worst reaction wouldn’t hit until summer 2013, when Warner Bros. and Man of Steel director Zack Snyder unveiled their pick for a rebooted Batman to star opposite Henry Cavill’s Superman in a crossover sequel: the immediately controversial “Batfleck.”

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“Ben Affleck, when it was announced he would be Batman, I thought they were really gonna surround the studio with pitchforks and torches,” Uslan said. “So then Robert Pattinson is announced, and the controversy on both sides breaks out all over again, so it’s a repeated formula.”

Reeves’ The Batman opens June 25, 2021.