The Batman is a 2022 film directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and starring Robert Pattinson (Twilight, Tenet) as Bruce Wayne / The Batman. The film is a reboot of the DC Films superhero action-adventure franchise that began in 1989 with Tim Burton’s film Batman.
The film also stars Zoë Kravitz (Big Little Lies, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) as Selina Kyle, Colin Farrell (The Gentleman, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them) as Oz “Penguin” Cobblepot, Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood, Prisoners) as The Riddler, and Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale, Westworld) as Police Lieutenant James Gordon. The Batman debuted in theaters on March 4, 2022.
The Batman Plot and Themes
Unlike Batman Begins (2005) directed by mega-director Christopher Nolan, The Batman is not an origin film. We do not see Bruce Wayne’s parents murdered, nor his journey to learning how to fight criminals, nor the first time he dons the cape and cowl.
Rather, The Batman takes place during the lonely vigilante’s second year fighting crime in the gritty, neo-noir streets of Gotham City. His only allies appear to be his trusted butler Alfred Pennyworth, played by Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), as well as Lieutenant Gordon.
The film largely focuses on corruption in Gotham City’s politics and institutions and how this intertwines with Gotham’s criminality. In fact, the plot revolves around the emergence of The Riddler, a new serial killer working to take out and expose the political corruption in the city.
Development of The Batman
Originally, Mr. Jennifer Lopez / Ben Affleck was set to write, direct and star in The Batman. At this point, it was meant to be a continuation of the character he portrayed in the films Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League.
However, Affleck stepped down as writer-director, at first remaining on board the film as producer and star. When Reeves took over directorial responsibilities, he completely re-worked the story and script and essentially severed its connection to any prior incarnations of Batman on film. By 2019, Affleck completely stepped away from his involvement in the film.
Matt Reeves co-wrote the script with Peter Craig. Grieg Frasier (Dune, Star Wars: Rogue One) worked as the film’s Director of Photography. The Batman was produced by several production companies including Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Films, 6th and Idaho, and Dylan Clark Productions. And the film was distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Reeves cast Robert Pattinson as the new Batman and this news leaked to the press by May 2019. The actor had only auditioned for the role five days before the leak was reported. Pattinson had been chasing the role for a long time.
At first, Jonah Hill was negotiating to play the role of The Riddler. However, he was unable to reach an agreement with Reeves and co. and stepped away from the project. This created an opening for Paul Dano to step in.
Further reading about the development of The Batman.
Sources and Influences on The Batman
Gritty, 1970s noir-type films heavily influenced Reeves’s new incarnation of The Batman. These films include Chinatown, The French Connection, Taxi Driver, and All The President’s Men. He also drew inspiration from newer serial killer films like Zodiac, Se7en, and The Silence of the Lambs. The Batman draws liberally from genres like suspense, thriller, horror, noir, action, adventure, and comic books films.
Matt Reeves also drew inspiration from a number of different Batman comic books for The Batman. These include Batman: Year One (1987), The Long Halloween (1996-7), Ego (2000).
The Batman Release and Box Office Reception
The Batman premiered at Lincoln Center in New York City on March 1, 2022. It was released to the world three days later. Unfortunately, the film was already delayed twice due to COVID-19. Its original release date was supposed to be June 2021.
The Batman had a reported budget of approximately $175 – $200 million. And to date, it has grossed over $770 million globally. This makes it one of the most successful films of 2022 to date. It is also the second highest-grossing film of the year.
Read more about the development of The Batman here.