The Batman is not an origin story for Batman (Robert Pattinson), but an origin story for Gotham City rogues Riddler (Paul Dano), Penguin (Colin Farrell), and Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), says filmmaker Matt Reeves. Like The Long Halloween, named by Reeves as one of the comics that influenced the original story of the movie, The Batman questions if the costumed caped crusader's presence inspires the colorful supervillains he comes to fight. At a Q&A following a screening of The Batman on the Warner Bros. lot, Reeves expanded on his approach to the Batman rogue's gallery in his expanding Batverse:
"[The Batman] is the origin story of every rogue's gallery character you come across," Reeves said (via SYFY WIRE). Like The Long Halloween, Reeves' film is about the early years of Batman, whose crusade inadvertently sparks a rise of costumed criminals.
"When I began this, I thought: 'Wow, I have a responsibility to understand everything,' including takes of the character that I don't necessarily understand or like, I just needed to understand it all — I think we all did when we read the comics," Reeves said. "And as I did that … the notion of what it is to project this image of vengeance — this idea of being a masked vigilante in the city — that it could have effects that were not intended. And [Batman is] trying to figure out why, after two years of this, crime is not going down. And it never occurs to him that he could be at least part of it. And that did absolutely come from the comics."
In The Batman, live-streaming serial killer Edward Nashton (Dano) is not yet the Riddler; mid-level mobster Oswald "Oz" Cobblepot (Farrell) not yet the Penguin; and elusive cat burglar Selina Kyle (Kravitz) not yet Catwoman. Cobblepot's rise to infamy will continue in the spinoff series in the works at HBO Max, where Reeves is building out his rebooted Batverse with another series about the Gotham City PD.
Starring Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Paul Dano as Edward Nashton/the Riddler, Jeffrey Wright as GCPD's James Gordon, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone, Peter Sarsgaard as Gotham D.A. Gil Colson, Jayme Lawson as mayoral candidate Bella Reál, Andy Serkis as Alfred, and Colin Farrell as Oswald "Penguin" Cobblepot, The Batman opens exclusively in theaters on March 4.