A little over a year ago, director Matt Reeves took the virtual stage at the DC FanDome to unveil a reinvented Batman universe centered on Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne. The pandemic has wreaked havoc The BatmanRelease date, but finally, on Saturday, just months before the DC comic book hit theaters, Reeves returned to FanDome to show off a new full trailer for the film that gives a shadowy but clearer look at how a younger Bruce Wayne deals with the rise of Riddler (Paul Dano), Penguin (Colin Farrell) and Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz).
Place in Gotham City, The Batman finds Bruce – complete with throwback Batmobile, a faster Bat-Bike and a costume that could be made of weapons? – Mapping the waters of a crime-ridden world. At the top of the film, The Riddler appears to be on a murder blast, and as Reeves and co-writer Mattson Tomlin have often said, the serial killer streak is likely to use Batman’s detective skills.
“Nobody has ever grounded it that way Year one does, ”Reeves said at the FanDome panel, referring to Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s influential comic strips. “To go into a young Batman directly, is not an origin story, but refers to his origin and shakes him to the core.”
For Pattinson, what fascinated him about this version of the character was “the demarcation of when he is Batman and when he is Bruce. In other versions, he really knows what he’s doing when he puts on the habit. He’s a little out of control. He didn’t really define what Batman is. He puts it on every night. He does not sleep. He’s becoming such a strange creature. “
From there we got a lot of insight into this new Batman style, which is very different from the widescreen spectacle of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and Zack Snyder’s more mythical version of the character. Reeves shoots his Batman in extreme widescreen format and in blatant, almost black and white film quality. When a ray of sunshine or a splash of fire breaks through later in the trailer, the entire image can be consumed by oranges – whatever this film delivers, there will be no shortage of penetrating images.
The drama, while gritty, is made up for by the villain’s madness. Having two crimelords and a femme fatale in Selina Kyle right away (ahem) gives the film the same feel as Batman: The Animated Series. This may be intentional: Tomlin told Polygon that BTAS was primarily his path to Batman, and Reeves is currently planning a spiritual sequel to the series starring JJ Abrams and original creator Bruce Timm.
If there’s little in the trailer, those are clues about the bigger picture of this film and a potential new franchise. We don’t know much about this new Bruce or the villains’ motivations or the direction the plot is ultimately headed. But here’s what we know: this is not your grandpa’s bat signal. “It’s not just a phone call,” Pattinson’s Batman says in the trailer. “It’s a warning.”
The Batman hits theaters on March 4, 2022 and in theaters only.