Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe took over the box office, the primary source of superhero movies came via DC Comics and Warner Brothers. Movies such as the 1970s era Superman films and the 19990s era Batman movies would do standalone trilogies and then recast and do them all over again, leading to multiple actors playing the iconic roles. With the rise of the MCU, Warner attempted a DCEU; however, the company is now returning to standalone stories with Robert Pattinson’s The Batman, and with the Twilight star in the Batmobile driver seat, this latest version looks to be darker than ever.
Viewers may be slightly confused this film, since it’s really part of the DCEU. Although the DCEU’s Batman, Ben Affleck (known affectionately as Batfleck), has retired from the role, there are still Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and The Flash films in the pipeline starring Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller, respectively. Those will have a different actor as Batman, bringing in the original 1990s era Michael Keaton (who starred in Batman and Batman Returns) to reprise his version of the role.
But The Batman is a standalone film. Pattinson (known as “Battinson” or “R.Battz”) is more akin to Christian Bale’s The Dark Knight or Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar-winning Joker. The Batman will be a story unrelated to the DCEU, The Suicide Squad movies, or James Gunn’s spinoff from The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker on HBO Max. That last part is essential, since the Battinson film will also have an HBO Max TV series spinoff, Gotham PD.
So if The Batman is utterly unrelated to what came before, what can fans expect? Here’s everything to know.
The Batman Trailer
The first trailer for The Batman arrived on Oct. 16, 2021, giving fans their first serious look at R.Pattz in the iconic role, including the hood, cape, and car. It also hinted at the plot being less a superhero story than a noir mystery in which a serial murderer is taunting the Batman.
The first trailer also gave fans a look at Batman’s primary love interest, Catwoman. However, for the second trailer, Zoë Kravitz’s take on Selina Kyle is put front and center.
The Batman Cast
Landing a titular superhero role is akin to winning the Hollywood lottery, and depending on the franchise, it can set an actor for life. Batman is one of those roles, and therefore the question of who would inherit the cape from Affleck was a big deal. But instead of going to an unknown or an up-and-comer, the role went to one of the best-known actors of his generation: Robert Pattinson. Pattinson has already starred in two massive franchises, first as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and then as Edward Cullen in the Twilight franchise. After the final film of the latter, he actively avoided blockbuster franchises, choosing more offbeat roles in indie films like The Rover and The Lighthouse.
But the lure of playing Batman was too great, and in 2019 it was announced director Matt Reeves cast Pattinson as a younger, more hot-headed version of Bruce Wayne than fans had seen before.
A cast of A-listers will surround Pattinson in the film. As noted above, Zoë Kravitz (Big Little Lies) will take on the co-starring role of Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. Andy Serkis (Black Panther) plays Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler, and Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) will play Police Commissioner James Gordon, a role he will reprise in the HBO Max series.
As for the villains, The Batman will introduce a plethora of them alongside the anti-hero Catwoman. Paul Dano (Swiss Army Man) takes on Edward Nashton, aka the Riddler; John Turturro (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) is Carmine Falcone; Peter Sarsgaard (Dopesick) is Gil Colson, the Gotham DA, who in Batman adaptations winds up being Two-Face, though it’s unclear if that will happen here. And finally, Colin Farrell plays Oswald "Oz" Cobblepot, aka the Penguin.
The Batman Plot & Spinoff Updates
Unlike most Batman series, the plot of this one turns Bruce Wayne’s Caped Crusader into more of a Sherlock Holmes detective. It’s also the first time a film adaptation has been set in what’s known as “Year Two,” when Bruce is now Batman, but still exploring what that means. The film is less an overarching plot and more episodic series of crimes that brings him face to face with Gotham’s various villains, who are all in the process of their own origin stories.
The TV spinoffs will likewise focus on a Gotham that’s changing now that the Batman has risen. So far, there are two in development. Gotham PD will star Jeffrey Wright and his police force working in a world where Batman could appear at any moment. And Deadline recently reported a second, Colin-Farrell-led series, The Penguin, was also in the works.
The Batman Premiere Date
The Batman was initially supposed to arrive in June 2021, but the filming delays of 2020 have pushed that back, first to October 2021, and then into March of 2022.
The current premiere date is set for March 4, 2022. The film will then debut on HBO Max 45 days later. Neither TV spinoff has a release date yet.