Details of Matt Reeves’ upcoming take on The Batman are beginning to see the light of day. In an interview with Esquire UK, the director spoke about the specific comics that inspired his take on the character, picking up the slack after the disappointing Ben Affleck era, and audience reaction to the casting of Robert Pattinson.
He also explained that Nirvana’s “Something in the Way,” which soundtracks the trailer, is more than just a grungy, downtempo mood-setter–it’s part of a broader storytelling mission.
“When I considered, ‘How do you do Bruce Wayne in a way that hasn’t been seen before?’ I started thinking, ‘What if some tragedy happened [i.e.: Wayne sees his parents murdered] and this guy becomes so reclusive, we don’t know what he’s doing? Is this guy some kind of wayward, reckless, drug addict?” Reeves said. “…The truth is that he is a kind of drug addict. His drug is his addiction to this drive for revenge. He’s like a Batman Kurt Cobain.”
Among Reeves’ influences were the critically-acclaimed 1987 comic Batman: Year One, which focuses on the superhero’s early years fighting crime in Gotham, in addition to gritty 1970s dramas like Taxi Driver, Chinatown, and The French Connection. In a MovieMaker Magazine piece on the film, Pattinson said he’s excited by how seriously Reeves’ project takes “the ‘world’s greatest detective’ aspect” of the Batman character and delves into noir.
Reeves also revealed that watching Pattinson in the Safdie Brothers’ thriller Good Time convinced the director he could tap into the anger necessary for the role. It turned out Pattinson was already a big Batman fan, and even wore the same suit Val Kilmer used for 1995’s Batman Forever.
“The people who were excited, I knew it was because they knew Rob’s work post-Twilight,” Reeves said. “The people who weren’t excited, I knew it was because they didn’t know Rob’s work post-Twilight.” He also explained that the eyeliner Pattinson wears under his mask was a very intentional choice. “I just loved the idea of taking off [the mask] and under that there’s the sweating and the dripping and the whole theatricality of becoming this character.”
Reeves also spoke candidly about following the Zack Snyder and Ben Affleck take on Batman, which made plenty of money but didn’t satisfy some fans and critics. He said that Affleck had been working on a script of his own, but that when Reeves took over, he wanted to uncouple the character from the other Justice League members and do something standalone.
“I respect that the DC Universe has become an extended universe and all the movies were kind of connected. But another Batman film, it shouldn’t have to carry the weight of connecting the characters from all those other movies,” Reeves explained. “I didn’t want them in there.”
In other The Batman news ahead of its March 4 release date, a fiery new poster appeared January 26 showing Pattinson, as well as Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman, Paul Dano’s Riddler, and a radically transformed Colin Farrell as The Penguin.
In the MovieMaker feature, Reeves spoke about drawing on the Zodiac Killer as inspiration for The Riddler, and likened Batman and police officer James Gordon to “Woodward and Bernstein” as portrayed in Alan J. Pakula’s All the President’s Men. Kravitz said thatKlute, a 1971 crime thriller also by Pakula, “kind of became a Bible for me” during the filmmaking process.
Some fans have expressed frustration that this new film will be rated PG-13 and not R, though it certainly seems like Reeves and co. have made a uniquely heavy take on Batman. If nothing else it’s got nearly every other superhero flick beat when it comes to run time.