The emerging cast for The Batman is a perfect answer to Justice League's troubles and the Caped Crusader's departure from the DCEU. After the rapturously received The Dark Knight trilogy concluded and Christian Bale's successor was revealed as Ben Affleck, it's perhaps fair to say that fan excitement over big-screen Batman dipped. Ultimately, Affleck was more successful in the role than many had predicted, but his two feature DCEU appearances in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League aren't fondly remembered.
Both movies were notoriously polarizing and dogged with controversy. Bat-fleck's showdown with Henry Cavill's Superman will mostly be remembered for the infamous "Martha" moment, and fans are currently campaigning for the release of Zack Snyder's original cut of Justice League, having been disappointed by the theatrical version. Just like Joker, Matt Reeves' The Batman is seemingly taking a standalone approach, free from the restrictions of a cinematic universe, but Bruce Wayne will still be seeking redemption when he returns to the cinematic realm.
Finally, after a lengthy period of pre-production that culminated in Affleck's eventual departure, The Batman is starting to come together and casting announcements are arriving in rapid succession. In a hugely positive sign, the current list of names involved is not only generating plenty of excitement among fans, but also acts as the perfect start to Batman's post-DCEU era.
Big Names In Unexpected Roles
The Batman's casting strategy has been many things, but predictable isn't one of them. The talent assembled, or reported to be attached, thus far includes a strong contingent of big Hollywood names headed up by Robert Pattinson. Uniquely, however, the actors linked to each role are generally quite far from what fans might've expected, and only Zoe Kravitz (who previously voiced Selina Kyle/Catwoman in The LEGO Batman Movie) could feasibly be described as a safe pick.
In Pattinson's case, the actor achieved household name status as a teenage heartthrob in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the Twilight saga, but has since mostly stuck to low-budget indie fare in an attempt to shake his vampiric reputation. As such, few could've predicted that Pattinson would be a serious consideration for arguably the most coveted role in comic book movies, and the announcement certainly raised some eyebrows. Crucially, however, Pattinson's casting also piqued interest. Although The Batman will be a new challenge for Pattinson, those who have seen his recent work will know that the actor's range isn't limited to endless brooding and sparkling in the sun, and this makes his casting as Bruce Wayne both risky and highly intriguing.
This anticipation is the opposite of what occurred after Ben Affleck's confirmation as Batman. Back then, fans' reservations were largely based off the actor's failed starring role in Daredevil, and while those same detractors may not be sold on Pattinson due to his Twilight history, the new Bruce Wayne is, unlike Affleck, an untested proposition as a blockbuster superhero.
Similar arguments could be made for other cast members. Jeffrey Wright will be most familiar to audiences for one of his highly intelligent, studious characters - Westworld's Bernard, The Hunger Games' Beetee or Dr. Narcisse from Boardwalk Empire. Wright might've had a limited role as Felix Leiter in recent James Bond offerings, but who would've put him as the next Commissioner Gordon - the all-action cop hero of Gotham City? Colin Farrell is reportedly now in talks for the Penguin, a character no one would've associated with the Irish actor but that, strangely, seems to fit quite well. That ethos perhaps sums up The Batman's casting so far.
A Young Cast - But No Origin Story
No one needs to see another Bruce Wayne origin story (although an alley scene flashback is still almost guaranteed) but the last 3 Batman movies have focused on an older, grizzled Dark Knight nearing retirement. After The Dark Knight Rises rounded out Christian Bale's career in vigilantism, Ben Affleck took a similar tack and offered a version of the superhero inspired by the aged Batman seen in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel.
It's clear from The Batman's casting that Matt Reeves' movie will see a far younger Batman near the outset of his taking to the streets, but with Pattinson, Kravitz and Riddler actor, Paul Dano, all in their early-mid 30s, this is very far from an origin story. If Warner Bros. are looking at Andy Serkis for Alfred and Farrell for Penguin, this too would hint at an early-era Batman world. Such relatively youthful casting seems to solve the conundrum of how to start a new Batman movie franchise without starting at the very beginning and treading over old ground.
This fresher-faced cast also helps place The Batman at entirely the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the DCEU. In truth, Pattinson is actually no younger than Christian Bale or Michael Keaton were when they were first cast in the same role, but where those actors could often portray beyond their years, Pattinson retains a distinctly youthful quality, particularly within the public consciousness. Consequently, The Batman's youthful cast also differentiates the upcoming film not just from the franchise's immediate history, but also from the previous 1990s and 2000s efforts, all without delving into prequel territory. This isn't Gotham, after all.
Both The Batman & Its Cast Have Something To Prove
If the Batman movie franchise can survive George Clooney and Bat-nipples then, frankly, it can survive anything. Nevertheless, the Caped Crusader does have some making up to do after his disappointing stint in the DCEU and, for the first time in a long time, Bruce Wayne has something to prove. This sort of cinematic quest for redemption can often bring out the best in a film production, lighting a fire underneath those involved. For proof of this, just look how Christopher Nolan fired back with Batman Begins after the Batman & Robin debacle.
Interestingly, The Batman's need to prove itself is reflected in its cast. As previously mentioned, Robert Pattinson will no doubt be hoping to finally kill off the teenage vampire tag in his return to mainstream cinema. Kravitz and Dano, meanwhile, find themselves in potentially career-making roles, with The Batman representing their most prominent Hollywood castings to date. If Colin Farrell is confirmed as the Penguin, he too will have something to prove after personal issues limited his casting opportunities in recent years, before 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and this year's Dumbo heralded somewhat of a comeback for the actor. Similarly, Andy Serkis remains pigeon-holed by some as a motion-capture guy, despite a wonderful turn as Ulysses Klaue in the MCU, and taking on the part of Alfred Pennyworth could cement Serkis as a live-action talent as much as a mo-cap one to a casual audience.
With a cast motivated to break stereotypes or succeed outside of their comfort zone and a Batman film seeking to recover a damaged franchise, there won't be a lack of drive on the set of The Batman.
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