With every new announcement and rumor, the cast for The Batman reveals so much about what the movie will be. Matt Reeves’s take on Batman hasn’t even started shooting yet, and it won’t be released until June 2021, but that hasn’t stopped fans from getting wildly excited about every new piece of information.
After Ben Affleck’s short run as Bruce Wayne came to an end when the Zack Snyder leadership of the DCEU was halted by Warner Bros., it seemed inevitable that Batman’s future would go in a far different direction from what had previously been planned. The reveal that Robert Pattinson would take on the lead role only further cemented that idea. While Pattinson has blockbuster experience thanks to the Twilight series, he’s spent the past decade focusing on auteur-driven indies and experimental fare that’s helped to remold his reputation as one of his generation’s finest actors. The news that Pattinson was our new Batman was a true surprise, and frankly, so has every other piece of casting related to the project.
So far, a few names have been confirmed for The Batman while others remain rumors or in early talks according to the trades. Zoë Kravitz was announced as the new Catwoman while Paul Dano will play the Riddler and Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright will take on the part of Commissioner Gordon. Then there are the rumors that Colin Farrell will play the Penguin and that Andy Serkis is in early discussions for the role of Alfred Pennyworth.
These are big-name actors of both critical and commercial clout. Kravitz starred in Big Little Lies, one of the most popular HBO series of the past few years, while Dano has made a name for himself as an actor, writer, and director with films like Wildlife. Colin Farrell's currently a muse of Yorgos Lanthimos who can swing back and forth between esoteric indie movies and Disney blockbusters like Dumbo, and Andy Serkis is, of course, one of the true revolutionaries of acting and its intersections with technology. We still don't know much about the film in terms of story, style, and themes, but there are elements we can gleam and draw further speculation from through these casting stories.
The Ages of Batman & Catwoman
Pattinson and Kravitz are around the same age - 33 and 30 respectively - which fits in well with Reeves wanting a younger take on the character. Granted, Pattinson is actually older than Christian Bale was when he got the role, but he was never played as a youthful figure when he was Batman and there was always a sense of him feeling older. Readers seem to prefer Bruce as a slightly older figure and many felt Pattinson was too young for the part, but there's much creative potential to gleam from a take on Bruce where he's trying to find himself as Batman while scouring the streets of Gotham - especially if those villains he faces are of a comparable age. Paul Dano is also 35 and each of them could easily play younger if needed.
The Penguin Is Already Established In Gotham
While Pattinson and company are decidedly youthful figures, Colin Farrell is 43, making him a good decade older than his new adversary. Farrell is an unexpected choice for the role of the Penguin, especially considering the actor reportedly previously considered for the part was Jonah Hill. Bringing Farrell on board suggests The Batman will slow the Gotham underworld as partly ruled by Oswald Cobblepot, an established player in the city's criminal games. It also seems unlikely that this Penguin will borrow from Danny DeVito in its speculative grotesqueness and will have more in common with the well-dressed gangsters of the comics.
The Batman Has Multiple Villains
The decision to have Batman go up against a full slate of iconic villains is one that’s been discussed since the project was in its earliest stages, with many speculating that the story could be based on or borrow heavily from Jeph Loeb’s The Long Halloween. In that comic arc, which takes place during Bruce's early days as Batman, he works with Harvey Dent and Jim Gordon to track down a mysterious killer named Holiday, who murders people on major holidays, one every month. This leads him to confront the biggest names in Gotham's crime world, from Scarecrow to Poison Ivy, the Riddler, Calendar Man, and the Joker.
It's an interesting change of pace for The Batman to focus on multiple villains rather than one or two, which has been the accepted model for comic book movies for some time now. It implies a soft reboot of sorts for DC, one where they can reintroduce a new age of Gotham to audiences and do so in one fell swoop with as many characters as possible. If this is their approach then there are some major gaps to be filled in terms of casting. Will Poison Ivy or Calendar Man show up? Will we see more of Gotham’s major crime families like the Maroni and Falcone clans? Is it possible Joker will turn up, and if so, will it be a brand new actor or can Warner Bros. convince Joaquin Phoenix to sign up for a franchise?
The Batman Isn't In The DCEU
The most obvious revelation to take from these casting announcements is that the film does not seem to be part of the DC Extended Universe. With Jeffrey Wright now in the role of Commissioner Gordon and not J.K. Simmons, it's a little harder for DC to slot in Pattinson after Affleck and pretend it's business as usual. Of course, this news is hardly unexpected. Talk of a reboot for the franchise has been plentiful since Justice League underperformed and rumors began swirling that Affleck wanted out of the role. Warner Bros. seems happy to eschew their original plans for a franchise and simply pick and choose the elements that worked best to carry on in whatever shape the story takes from now on.
That means Aquaman, whose film made over $1 billion, will still be there, as will Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, and a couple of figures from Suicide Squad, but no Batfleck, no Jared Leto as Joker, and no Jeremy Irons as Alfred. It messes up any plans for a super contained continuity, but that was never DC’s strong suit and it’s far better for them to experiment more with their formula rather than try to copy Marvel. The Batman gives them a fresh slate to show the world what DC is capable of.
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022