Director Matt Reeves took reigns of The Batman from a much vexed Ben Affleck. The idea to bring a spin-off movie for the caped crusader was born after DC’s Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Affleck wanted to act and direct the chapter himself but soon made an abrupt exit. After the BvS failure, his last straw came with the epic Justice League disaster.
WB then trusted Reeves to relaunch The Batman in live-action cinema. He changed adversity into an opportunity. He recast Robert Pattinson in the lead and chose to tell the tale of a noir Batman. Reeves’ production studio 6th & Idaho is now in a multi-deal contract with WB to create a spin-off world for The Batman.
The Dark Knight Legacy
Interestingly, what Matt Reeves intends to shoulder and compete with is the legacy of his predecessors Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan. Snyder tends to spin a mystical world with real moral obligations of its various characters. Gods Vs Gods, Meta-Human Vs Symbiotes, Superhuman Vs otherworldly creatures all wrapped in a conflict of just and unjust.
The cinematography has a darker, more natural tone that is now known as the Zack Snyder filter to the cinematic world. Many cinematic savants expect Snyder’s Batman to be the grittiest iteration of all time. However, till the Justice League: Snyder Cut releases, the character arc of his caped crusader remains in limbo.
Watch: Zack Snyder Talks about Batman Vs Superman
Speaking of limbo, director Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy was meaningful on various levels. First and foremost, the success of his trilogy gave DC the dark tone to build upon its entire DCEU Universe. Nolan also showed that the superhero genre has the potential to be more in terms of its storytelling and narratives. The realism he portrayed thrilled the audience and kept them on the edge of their seats.
His character justifications, the deeper psychological takes, motivations, or the lack of it, further added misery to the agony of the watchers. Nolan was successful in telling a tale that mirrored real-life in more ways than one. He deliberately put his audience in dilemma — whether to root for the bad guy or not.
No wonder, the same dilemma was at the core of Joaquin Phoenix’s Academy Award winning performance as Todd Phillips’ Joker.
Watch: Christopher Nolan Talks About Dark Knight Trilogy
Christian Bale as the Dark Knight was a man of pain, burdened by the loss with a heart full of angst coupled with an alter ego of a protector. Bruised by the anarchy at a young age, Bruce believed in Gotham city. Nolan made him relatable too; Bruce was backed by military weaponry, trained by Ra’s al Ghul in the League of Shadows. So when Batman rises against any threat, his viewers know the moral and physical stakes.
And not only Bale but the trilogy ensemble consist of adept performers viz Liam Neeson as Ra’s al Ghul, Heath Ledger as Joker, Tom Hardy as Bane, Michael Caine as Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucious Fox, Anne Hathway as Cat Woman, and Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon to name a few!
The trilogy cast put together performances that etch the characters in unique ways to the audience — say Ledger’s Joker laugh or Hardy’s Bane voice. These small nuances and improvisations had a deeper impact on the audience.
Stringing these performances with Bruce Wayne’s origin story – Nolan told the genre-defining Dark Knight tale. This ensemble ideology is just one of the feathers Matt Reeves has picked up on from his predecessor’s cap.
Matt Reeve’s The Batman Ensemble
Conversely to Christopher Nolan, Matt Reeves’ is a tale of a younger Bruce Wayne, going back to DC’s roots, straying away from the predecessor’s shadows. He told Yahoo,
“I just felt like well, what I’d love to do is to get a version of this Batman character where he’s not yet fully formed. Where there’s something to do in this context with who that guy would be in this world today and to ground him in all of these broken ways. Because at the end of the day, this guy is doing all of this to deal with trauma in his past.”Matt Reeves on Batman 2021
Robert Pattinson’s casting fits the bill. Reeves has also brought in Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, Paul Dano as The Riddler, and most mouthwatering of all, Colin Farrell portrays The Penguin.
Reeves seems to have picked up on Nolan’s mantra ‘a prestigious cast for a prestigious film.’ Nolan’s casting was akin to his vision of the crime drama. Reeves picked a cast that is fresh to the franchise business except for the lead. He has picked actors who might not look much like the comic book counterparts but are backed with their amazing character performances. And surely can bring the nuance to their characters that can make lasting impressions.
The Batman is not only spiraling another trilogy but a larger universe. This means that the setting of Gotham is equally important. Matt Reeves’ 6th & Idaho is creating a Batman spin-off world on HBO Max to give viewers a taste of what’s to come.
In DC Comics, Gotham is a metaphor for New York City.
Nolan shot his Dark Knight in London, NYC, and Chicago. And if rumors are anything to go by, Reeves is set to resume the halted production of Batman in Chicago. The thought of a similar landscape makes sense to give a familiarity with the DC universe. Now that’s the second feather from Nolan’s cap. Fingers crossed!