I know I get excited about basically everything, but anyone who’s read this site before knows that when it comes to Batman/DC, I’m not afraid to call out crappy iterations and inaccuracies (cough Suicide Squad cough). But when I say that this trailer gives me more hope and more excitement for Batman than anything that’s come in the last 20 years, I really REALLY mean it.
I stayed up for the entire Fandome event, despite it taking place from 3am in Australia. Mostly, it was fluff and minor fan service, but right at the end came the panel with Matt Reeves. He spoke for a while on his version of Batman, and with every word my confidence in him grew. He really GETS Batman, in a way that so far no other director has. He gets the darkness, the corruption, the psychology, the noir detective aspect. He gets that the villains are just people who are twisted, like Bruce Wayne himself.
Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves both are huge fans of Batman, and honestly even in such a short trailer, their passion shines through clearly. A lot of people were against Robert Pattinson being cast as Batman. I have to admit I was a little hesitant, but from the beginning I could see his potential. It’s important to remember at this point that with every single casting of both Batman and Joker, tons and tons of people have lost their shit, complaining and saying how terrible it’ll be. And after almost all of the movies actually came out, everyone changed their tune. So honestly, hate him all you want; I’m very definitely on Pattinson’s side. And now that I’ve seen him in action, I have total faith in him. I genuinely think he could be the best live action Batman so far.
I’m going to start this with all the facts, and then I’ll break down the trailer, and then I’ll speculate on some theories I have for where it might go. So, without further ado…
What We Know:
During Matt Reeves’ panel, he gave quite a bit of information on the tone and setting of the movie; a lot more than I thought he would:
-It’s set less than two years after Batman first appears.
-Batman is still learning. He is flawed, inexperienced, and making mistakes.
-The movie will focus heavily on Batman’s detective side/skills.
-The corruption of police/government in Gotham City is a huge part of the story.
-Each villain will be explored; they’re not quite the fully-fledged characters we know.
-The characters will be easily recognisable to fans, but will be presented in a way that has never been seen before.
-The growing perception and reputation of Batman will be important to Batman himself and in the movie on a broader level.
Now all of that adds up, to me at least, to an incredible Batman movie. Combined with the trailer, I really can’t wait to see it. So, onto the trailer then…
From the very beginning, the trailer is dark and creepy. An unconscious person (or corpse) is being duct taped up by a masked man (who we can safely identify as Riddler).
The victim’s face is completely covered. There are low breathing noises, but I believe those are the Riddlers, as the body is not moving. On his face is written “no more lies” – A clear message from Riddler to Gotham City that the corruption and deception of the Government, Police, and Media isn’t going to be tolerated any more.
Then we cut to the crime scene after it’s discovered by police. We see Gordon (his rank in this movie is unknown, though it’s unlikely he’s Commissioner just yet) walk through, with all the police staring daggers at the camera behind him (clearly Batman). We get a look at the crime scene a little, as we hear Gordon’s voice.
During these shots, he’s speaking in rhymes that he’s clearly reading from the Riddler aimed at Batman:
“From your secret friend. Who? Haven’t a clue? Let’s play a game, just me and you.”
Then he asks if it means anything to Batman; which means even at this early stage, Gordon trusts Batman’s input.
Then we see a fairly public scene that Batman, without his suit, is watching in secret. We see, for the first time in a Batman movie, that Bruce Wayne does indeed put make-up on his eyes to wear the cowl:
After that, Batman rides into what looks like a potential Batcave, though the staircase around it is a little confusing. We hear Alfred say “you’re becoming quite a celebrity. Why’s he writing to you?” From this we know that Alfred definitely knows Bruce is Batman (in some iterations, Bruce keeps it secret from Alfred for quite a while before finally letting him in on it).
After that, we cut to what looks like a funeral, and see Bruce Wayne properly for the first time.
Then a car comes crashing through the doors, and comes to an ungraceful stop right next to the deceased person’s framed picture. A person comes out, tied up and holding what looks like a small tablet or large phone taped to his hand. There’s a green dot and a red dot on it, which I think means a phone call. Nothing concrete is known about this situation, so I’ll speculate further after this breakdown. The person also has a letter to the Batman taped to his chest.
After this, we finally get to see Catwoman (though Reeves stated that she’s not known as Catwoman in this movie) as she slides down a rope into a building and begins breaking into a safe.
With Selina Kyle adequately teased, we go back to the funeral/hostage situation as Riddler talks in rhymes in voiceover; “if you are justice, please do not lie. What is the price for your blind eye?” During these words, we get a montage of shots, including a quick shot of the Penguin (who I did not recognise until my 30th viewing of the trailer):
The montage also shows a lot of action; a meeting behind a warehouse looks like it turns into a shootout, Selina and Batman meet and fight, Batman brawls with a room full of police, and the hostage from the funeral explodes with Batman standing in front of him.
What’s interesting about this is that in the initial shots of the hostage situation, Bruce Wayne is present (as in, without the Batsuit). I’ll explore this more after the breakdown.
We get to see Riddler again, a little clearer this time. The jacket he’s wearing is definitely green, and the mask looks to be handmade. He’s wearing glasses, which is generally not part of the Riddler’s appearance. It may just be part of the disguise though.
Now we cut to possibly my favourite moment, and definitely one of the most impactful (literally and figuratively) moments in the trailer. A group of thugs is facing down Batman.
The leader asks who he’s meant to be, and then attacks. In a series of vicious moves that were too quick for me to screenshot with any clarity, Batman utterly removes the man from existence. It’s unclear whether he literally kills him, but he’s certainly anything but gentle with the thug’s face (he hits the man 12 times, each one sounding hard enough to break bones. Yes, I counted). The atmosphere in the group of thugs changes instantly from smug machismo to pants-shitting terror, and just to make sure they get it, Batman introduces himself formally.
“I’m vengeance.” (okay, maybe not a formal introduction, but the thugs definitely understand who he is now.)
After that, we get literally three different angles of the Batmobile, just so we can enjoy its pure awesomeness:
Then a quick-cut montage of action and chaos ensues, some of which I managed to screenshot:
Batman gets shot in the chest point blank (don’t worry, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t die).
Batman flies up through the centre of a spiralling staircase using his grappling hook.
Batman chases Penguin in the Batmobile, with Penguin exclaiming “this guy’s crazy!”
Batman rises in front of the group of thugs, ready for more fighting.
Then, we get the title screen, and then we cut to a shot of the batcave with Batman removing his cowl. We hear the Riddler say “you’re part of this too,” to which Batman says “how am I a part of this?” Riddler’s answer is a mysterious “You’ll see.”
After that, the audience is treated to perhaps the most unsolvable riddle of all time:
Some Theories and speculation:
There is so much to unpack here, I could speculate for days. The most exciting thing for me personally is that Reeves stated that only 25% of the movie has been filmed; everything we’ve seen is only cut from a quarter of the whole thing. There is SO much yet to see, and even out of such a tiny amount of footage, the trailer is still absolutely incredible.
Firstly, I want to start with the crime scene moments. Batman and Gordon are clearly okay with working together by this point. I think there will be strong Year One vibes here, where Gordon is idealistically attempting to address the corruption of the police from within its ranks, and being met with aggression and disdain from his peers. In Year One, this results in actual beatings and outright bullying. In the movie, it wouldn’t surprise me to see just as much violence between the police and Gordon as there is out on the streets of Gotham.
Now, I really want to talk about the hostage situation, because as I mentioned before, there is a change from Bruce Wayne sans Batsuit to full-on Batman being there. What I think happens is that the phone in the hostages hand rings and Riddler begins a conversation with Bruce. Now I’ve looked closely, and in the last shot of the trailer, Bruce isn’t actually talking. The exchange between him and Riddler regarding Batman being “part of this” is voiceover. I think Riddler knows his identity, and once all of the funeral-goers have left (and knowing that the hostage will die), Riddler makes it plain to Batman that he knows who he is. I think that dialogue occurs in this scene instead of in the Batcave. He gives Bruce time to change into Batman, then poses him a challenge and/or threat, and then kills the hostage. It’s very clear that Riddler and Batman have at least some similar goals; they both want an end to corruption and deception, and they both want Gotham to be free of powerful criminals ruling over them. This is an interesting concept to play with, because Batman is still figuring out how to go about his mission; could Riddler pose a temptation? Might Batman believe they could team up, since they both want the same thing? Does Riddler know even more about Batman than even Bruce does (like, for example, who killed his parents…)?
There’s also the matter of the Batcave. Looking as closely as I can in the very brief shots in which it appears, it seems as though the Batcave is located outside, or in an old subway tunnel, or something similar. The staircase above it is ornate, nothing like what has been seen in any other Batcave iteration thus far. There are rails along the ground that seem to end in a ramp… it is possibly still bellow Wayne Manor, but its design speaks to a greater purpose; a secret dock or transportation tunnel? It certainly looks far older than Bruce, so my only thought is that he’s taken over a space he found that was designed for something else, rather than simply building his workspace in a natural cave. I’m very interested to see what it is, but the lighting and space suggests to me that it’s outdoors; when I first saw the trailer I didn’t even realise it was the batcave. The other shots look more like they’re in a secret dark space, but that initial shot just looks so open and accessible.
One of the biggest inspirations on Matt Reeves for this movie was the comic “The Long Halloween”, by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. The comic is based in the Year One continuity, and is set shortly after that story ends, still during Batman’s early years. Both comics are heavy on the detective noir tone, and I’m a huge fan of both. Given the casting of the villains, it seems very unlikely that the movie will actually contain many actual plot points from the Long Halloween; but even the tone and themes are a great place to build a Batman story from.
I love that we haven’t seen any of Penguin at all, and only flashes of Catwoman. I know that that’s because only a quarter of the movie has been filmed, but I’m honestly hoping the Riddler will be the main villain anyway. I’ve always thought he would make a brilliant villain if done in a really dark, messed up way. He suits the tone Reeves is going for perfectly, and is definitely a great villain for Batman’s early years.
Also, this is a minor thing, but I have a theory on the scene where Batman beats up the thug. He’s seen towards the end of the trailer rising back to his feet, still facing them. I think he actually will give the full line of famous dialogue at this point; “I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman.” Not exactly a groundbreaking theory, but I would be very surprised if it wasn’t the case. I can’t remember where it first showed up, but I definitely remember it being in the 90’s animated series. Either way, I’d love to hear Pattinson say the full line.
We have yet to see Alfred, but we did hear his voice, and Andy Serkis is a great actor and I’m keen to see what he does with the character. I honestly can’t fault any of the casting; I really think it’s all spot on. Jeffrey Wright has gravitas and integrity, and I think he’ll be perfect as Gordon. Zoe Kravitz strikes the perfect balance between sensual energy and kick-assedness (I don’t know how else to say that).
Paul Dano has the look of a bullied, rage-filled genius; he looks perfect to emanate the same kind of destructive and toxic energy as a school shooter or bomber (sorry Paul). And his voice is just incredible; strong but tinged with frightening madness and uncontrolled emotion. I think other than Pattinson as Batman, Paul Dano absolutely has the potential to steal the show. I’m really hoping for the same kind of unhinged and disconcerting but still sympathetic performance that we got from Joaquin Phoenix in Joker. A character you understand, but still condemn.
The actual plot is mostly unknown, but we’ve got a lot of information about the tone and themes. I really love speculating, but I don’t like getting too deep into possible plot points or storylines because I don’t like approaching movies like this with specific expectations. I do think that Batman will make at least one huge mistake, something that rocks him and changes his outlook permanently (as in, turns him into the experienced and controlled Batman we all know). I also think the only villain to be caught and remain locked up will be Riddler (or that Batman will kill him), and that there will be at least one other villain appear in their pre-villain form (and my money’s on Harvey Dent). I also think Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne will either already be dating (as they were in Long Halloween), or will begin dating during the movie. I think that the Riddler will be the only person in the movie to find out Batman’s true identity, and will keep it to himself.
I’m really really hoping we’ll get some flashbacks that show Riddler’s messed up childhood and his transformation into the Riddler, but I won’t go as far as to say it’ll happen. I think Penguin and Catwoman can be done fairly briefly and organically, but Riddler really deserves some dissecting and exploration. Especially with an actor as talented as Paul Dano.
One final bit of speculation, and this is based on nothing but looks: there are only a handful of actors on the IMDB page that haven’t been assigned roles. Two of them, Max and Charlie Carver, look like they’d be perfect as Alberto and Mario Falcone. The two sons of Carmine Falcone feature in the Long Halloween, and Carmine has been confirmed as being played by John Turturro. In support of this theory, Max and Charlie are actual brothers. The other bit of speculative casting I’m going to go with is Mark Killeen as Harvey Dent. This is purely based on his face; he’s got the same handsome and chiselled look as Aaron Eckhart. Like I said, pure speculation, but it’s fun to think about what other characters may appear in the movie.
I absolutely can’t wait to see more, especially a second (and third) trailer after more footage is filmed! For now, I’ll leave it at that, and just say I’m so keen for it!