The Batman stepped out of the shadows with director Matt Reeves at DC FanDome on Saturday, where Reeves revealed details behind his noir-driven detective story before premiering the film's moody first trailer. The rebooted Batman, taking place in a separate continuity from Ben Affleck's war-weary Dark Knight, explores Robert Pattinson's vengeful Bruce Wayne in his second year as a costumed crime-fighter. Not yet the world's greatest detective or the symbol of hope for a Gotham City infested by crime and corruption, this early-days Batman must use all his strength and skills against unfledged versions of Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), the Penguin (Colin Farrell), and the Riddler (Paul Dano).
Reaffirming that The Batman is not an origin tale or an adaptation of any particular comic book story, including Year One, Reeves described the script he penned with Mattson Tomlin as a neo-noir styled after gritty '70s cop movies with "street-grounded stories."
Below are the key reveals from Reeves' appearance at DC FanDome, including more on the Reeves-produced GCPD spinoff television series now in development for HBO Max.
Batman: Year Two
"What's really important about this iteration is that a lot of the other stories are about how he had to master his fear, and master himself, in order to become Batman. And that in that Batman state, he's sort of his best self," Reeves said during his presentation. "For me, what was exciting was not doing that, not doing the origin, not doing what we've seen done so beautifully in other movies."
The Batman meets Bruce Wayne "in the middle of this criminological experiment," Reeves said, adding moviegoers will "see him in the becoming of Batman. [We're going] to see him make mistakes as Batman. To see him grow, and fail, and be heroic, and do all of the things that we associate with Batman, but in a way that felt very human and very flawed."prevnext
A New Approach
A fan of "character-based" movies, Reeves' deep dive into genre works brought a realization that there's a way to "do very emotional stories, but under the guise of these sort of great, mythic tales."
"In particular, what excited me — and the thing I related to in the Batman story — was that he isn't a superhero in the traditional sense," Reeves said. "You know, he might have a cape, but he can't fly. It's the ability to endure, and not only have the ability but the compulsion."
Reeves later said in place of "super-heroic powers," Batman wages his crusade with his "super-heroic focus and super-heroic drive."prevnext
What Drives The Batman
This Batman, like most iterations of the character, embarks on his crime-fighting crusade after witnessing the alleyway murder of his parents. Pattinson's "broken" and tormented Bruce Wayne is haunted by "that idea of being driven by your past, and by the things that you can't quite resolve in yourself," Reeves said.
The Batman isn't "about how he became Batman," Reeves added, "it's about the early days of how he is Batman." Moviegoers will "see him becoming what we all know about him, and see it in new ways."
"I felt like that was a way to do something that hasn't been done," he said. "And that was really what I was excited to be able to do in this iteration."prevnext
The Rogue's Gallery
The film will reveal the origins of the Gotham City rogue's gallery who — like this proto-Dark Knight — aren't fully-formed by the time we meet them in The Batman.
"In a weird way, this is the origin of a lot of our rogue's gallery characters," Reeves teased. "Selina isn't Catwoman yet — that's actually part of the journey. Oz [Cobblepot] is not yet the kingpin that he's going to become. He's the Penguin — in fact, he doesn't like being called the Penguin — and the Riddler is just emerging for the first time. So that's all incredibly exciting."
Describing his detective story as a thriller tethered to the cop world, Reeves revealed The Batman drew inspiration from gritty movies from the 1970s — namely Chinatown, The French Connection, and Taxi Driver.
"I hope is what's different about what we're doing is to try and do it in exactly that sort of manner and then, of course, the other things that are from the earlier history of the comics, like him being the world's greatest detective and how we got there," Reeves said. "Those things have been touched on, but I don't know that they've been central to the plot, as they are in this particular Batman. So there's a lot of things I hope that will be totally different."prevnext
Comic Book Inspirations
A lifelong Batman fan, Reeves looked to Darwyn Cooke's Batman: Ego to get into the mindset and the psychology of Batman.
"He's confronting the beast that is Batman and it's that kind of duality... about him confronting the shadow side of himself and the degree to which you have self-knowledge," Reeves said, adding his "broken" Batman acts out of a "heroic grounding" while being "driven by the parts of himself he doesn't yet know."prevnext
A Dark Knight
The film's first trailer depicts Gotham City cop Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) handing Batman a green envelope holding clues to a grisly murder, but the costumed vigilante is no friend of the police. Because the violent vigilante is early in his trajectory, the people of Gotham City have come to fear him — forcing Bruce to confront Gotham's perception of Batman.
"He's kind of a growing legend and I think there are some people who are wondering, 'Does he exist?'" Reeves said. "That legend is building day by day and has been since he made his first appearance about a year-and-a-half ago — we're in year two — so the public is afraid of him."prevnext
Gotham City PD
Reeves and Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter will flesh out the world of The Batman in a spinoff television series taking place during Year One, set to explore the depth of corruption that has permeated throughout Gotham City for decades — creating the need for a Batman.
"The idea is we go back to Year One, and Year One is the beginning of the emergence and is the first appearance of this masked vigilante that starts to unsettle the city," Reeves said. "You start to see the story through the point of view of these corrupt cops and one in particular, and the story is actually a battle for his soul."
The television series will unravel the history of corruption in Gotham City with new characters and familiar faces pulled from DC Comics, going into a level of detail "that you couldn't do in a movie," Reeves said. "[The series will] go into these rich places and [we'll] meet entirely new characters that Terence is going to be writing, and I'm incredibly excited."
The Batman opens in theaters on October 1, 2021.prev