The next iteration of Batman is on the way, reinventing the caped crusader for a new generation of fans, setting up a continuity independent of the mainline DC Extended Universe.
Robert Pattinson has been tapped to play billionaire socialite Bruce Wayne, who takes to the streets of Gotham City each night to fight its numerous criminal gangs and super villains.
A tantalising first The Batman trailer was released at DC FanDome over the summer, offering our first close look at the moody new blockbuster, which will pit Batman against his cunning rival, The Riddler.
However, production has not been easy on this latest outing, taking place right in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, causing some serious headaches on set.
Pattinson tested positive for COVID-19 during filming and was required to isolate until he could be given the all clear, which might have been the motivation behind a revolutionary change of plans.
While The Batman had reportedly been planning to use mostly real locations prior to the pandemic, alternative arrangements have now been put in place utilising the cutting-edge technology behind The Mandalorian.
Dubbed “virtual production”, the impressive technique enables visual effects to be realised in real-time, using a huge LED screen powered by an advanced video game engine.
Industrial Light & Magic chief creative officer Rob Bredow confirmed that The Batman had made use of these strategies, during this year’s virtual VIEW Conference, bringing together the brightest minds in VFX and computer animation.
For more information on how the technology works, check out Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian on Disney Plus, which goes behind-the-scenes on the hit Star Wars spin-off.
Read on for everything we know about 2022’s The Batman.
When is The Batman released?
The Batman had been due for release on 25th June 2021 in both the UK and USA, but has now been pushed back until 4th March 2022 as part of Warner Bros’ coronavirus delays.
As of January 2020, filming had officially started as confirmed by director Matt Reeves on Twitter, but was The Batman filming was halted due to the ongoing pandemic in March.
Reeves told Deadline in April that roughly a quarter of the movie has been filmed, meaning there’s still a sizeable amount of work to do before editing can begin.
— Matt Reeves (@mattreevesLA) January 27, 2020
Fortunately, work on The Batman was able to resume in September, after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP announced that major productions would be able to film in England as long as they operate in a tightly controlled “bubble”.
After a two-week hiatus following Pattinson’s run-in with coronavirus, filming once again got underway and is proceeding with help from The Mandalorian’s virtual production technology.
When is The Batman set?
The film will be set during the second year of the Caped Crusader, with Bruce Wayne in the midst of his crime-fighting days and finding his feet as a vigilante – so it won’t be an origins story.
In reference to The Batman’s iconic costume, director Matt Reeves explained that the reason Pattison’s costume will appear more rough and ready is because he’s still early into his career – “Year Two”, to be precise.
“It’s very practical, the idea is that [Batman] made it himself,” Reeves said at DC FanDome in August 2020. “It needs to look like he can move, but it’s still evolving. He’s in Year Two of being Batman.”
“It’s early and Batman’s still a vigilante,” the directed continued. “[Gotham’s people] wonder, ‘That guy sounds a little dangerous.’ He’s not yet the symbol of hope. He’s still a growing legend. People wonder whether he exists. It’s one of the things he will confront in the story.”
What is The Batman about?
The movie will be helmed by director Matt Reeves, best known for his work on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and its sequel, both of which were critically acclaimed.
Speaking at DC FanDome, Reeves said of the film, “What is good? That’s one of the interesting things, it’s about is learning how to be Batman.”
Speaking about the film’s plot, he said: “The whole idea is that this is all an experiment in the movie. The idea that we’re in Year 2, it’s the Gotham experiment; it’s a criminal, logical experiment, trying to figure out what he can do to finally change this place. And in our story, as he’s in that mode, that’s where you meet him and you see that he’s charting what he’s doing and he doesn’t seem to have any effect on what he wants to happen.”
Reeves also seemed to hint that the film would delve far more into the history of Gotham’s corruption – and how that might connect back to Batman’s origins after all, but in a new and unexpected way.
He continued, “And that is when the murders start to happen, and then the murders begin to describe sort of the history of Gotham in a way that only reinforces what he knows about Gotham, but it opens up a whole new world of corruption that goes much farther. But as that story starts to come out, without being an origin tale for him, it ends up being something that touches on his origins.
“So you start to describe this epic history of corruption in Gotham that you start to understand, ‘Well, where did my family sit in that?’ And in that sense… is a way to take a story, a point-of-view story, a mystery. It’s got, of course, action, and all that kind of stuff, but at the end of it, it’s incredibly personal for him even though it’s in the story where he’s trying to understand and unravel this mystery.”
He recently told Total Film that The Batman will be “totally different” to other movies starring the Caped Crusader.
“It’s not an origin tale, and you’re meeting him in the early days,” he said. “And for me, what’s really important about this iteration is that you know a lot of the other stories are about how he had to master his fear and master himself in order to become Batman. And that in that Batman state, he’s sort of in his best self.”
“I hope what’s different about what we’re doing is try and do it in exactly that sort of manner and then of course the other things that are from the earlier history of the context of him being the world’s greatest detective and how we got there,” he added.
Ben Affleck was originally due to star in the film, but after the divided response to Batman v Superman and Justice League, he’s hanging up his cape and cowl, leaving a Batmobile-sized hole in the DC Extended Universe.
In a The New York Times profile, he stated he decided not to go through with it after reportedly showing a friend the script.
“They [the friend] said, ‘I think the script is good. I also think you’ll drink yourself to death if you go through what you just went though again’,” Affleck told the publication.
In a previous interview with Nerdist, Reeves revealed he wants the movie to live up to the successes of those past: “I thought, ‘Well, there’s been some terrific Batman movies,’ and I don’t want to be part of a long line of Batman movies where this is just another one. I feel like they’ve been really distinctive.”
He added that his intension is to create a version of Batman 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.”
Who will play Batman?
In May 2019 Variety reported that The Lighthouse star Robert Pattinson would play Bruce Wayne, the billionaire playboy with a dark origin story and a secret nighttime, crime-busting hobby.
Deadline had previously reported that Pattinson was up against fellow British actor Nicholas Hoult, star of X-Men and more recently Tolkien. They later reported Pattinson had been chosen over Hoult and that a deal was to be agreed in the coming weeks.
It’s unclear if Pattinson is signed up for more than one film – he told Variety that he didn’t “know anything” about potential sequels – though it’s hard to imagine he hasn’t been pinned down for additional movies.
The Twilight star revealed in September that he’s not intimidated to play one of the most iconic superheroes in film history, telling Total Film (via The Sun): “There’s a slightly different feeling when you know lots and lots of people are going to watch something you’re working on.”
“I weirdly enjoyed it during Twilight, the idea that you can mess it up,” he added. “I guess I felt confident. I wanted to be on the big stage.”
First-look images of Robert Pattinson’s Batman
Warner Bros shared a series of first-look images ahead of the August 2020 DC FanDome panel – showing Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne for the first time.
Pattinson’s Bruce looks almost gothic, with various torturous and conflicted expressions as he apparently struggles to find his place within Gotham’s eco-structure – and begins to build within his early-stages Batcave.
— Warner Bros. Pictures (@wbpictures) August 22, 2020
Who is in the cast for The Batman?
Paul Dano has been cast as classic antagonist The Riddler/Edward Nashton, a role which Superbad’s Jonah Hill had previously been in talks for. Dano joins Pattinson and Big Little Lies star Zoe Kravitz, who has landed the iconic role of Catwoman, both confirmed by director Reeves on Twitter.
— Matt Reeves (@mattreevesLA) October 17, 2019
Interestingly, Kravitz was previously turned down for the role of Batman’s feline frenemy in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, with the role going to Anne Hathaway instead, though she did end up playing the character anyway – she voices Catwoman in The Lego Movie and its spin-off The Lego Batman Movie.
— Matt Reeves (@mattreevesLA) October 14, 2019
Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) has landed the role of Commissioner Gordon (played by Oscar-winner Gary Oldman in the Dark Knight trilogy), with director Matt Reeves confirming the long-rumoured casting in a tweet as well.
— Matt Reeves (@mattreevesLA) October 30, 2019
And the castings just keep on coming. Apparently, following Hill’s withdrawal the casting for rotund villain The Penguin has gone in a slightly different direction, with Colin Farrell set to bring Oswald Cobblepot to life instead.
Lord of the Rings star Andy Serkis will play the key role of Batman’s butler Alfred Pennyworth, a part popularised by Michael Caine in Nolan’s movies but more recently played by Jeremy Irons in Batman v Superman and Justice League, as well as Douglas Hodge in Joker.
— Matt Reeves (@mattreevesLA) November 13, 2019
This will be something of a reunion for Serkis and Reeves, who previously collaborated on Reeves’ critically-acclaimed Planet of the Apes movies.
Joining them are Peter Sarsgaard and newcomer Jayme Lawson, who had been rumoured to be playing Harvey ‘Two-Face’ Dent and Batgirl respectively.
However, as filming began on the picture, the rumours seemed to be cleared as it was revealed Sarsgaard would be playing Gotham DA Gil Colson, while Lawson joins as mayoral candidate Bella Real.
That doesn’t mean they couldn’t still turn out to be the villain and female Caped Crusader, as neither of the characters are well established in the DC Comics universe.
And if you thought that was enough Batman castings, or even Batman villains, think again! Reeves has also revealed that Transformers, Barton Fink and The Big Lebowski star John Turturro will play mobster Carmine Falcone in the Batman.
— Matt Reeves (@mattreevesLA) November 22, 2019
Previously, Falcone was played by Tom Wilkinson in Christopher Nolan’s Bat-movies.
In January 2020, it was reported by IMDb Pro that Chernobyl and Taboo actor Alex Ferns had joined the cast as Commissioner Pete Savage.
And in March 2020, The A.V. Club reported that twins Max and Charlie Carver had also joined the cast, though there is no confirmation on what roles they’ll be playing.
Then in August 2020, yet another big name was added to the cast list, with Dunkirk and The Eternals star Barry Keoghan announced as Jim Gordon’s partner in the official video description for the first trailer.
Keoghan’s character name has not been announced, although there is some speculation that he could be playing comic book character Stan Merkel, an officer in the Gotham City Police Department who was Gordon’s original partner before being killed off.
What does Batman’s costume look like?
“It’s very practical, the idea is that [Batman] made it himself,” Matt Reeves said at the virtual DC FanDome in August. “It needs to look like he can move, but it’s still evolving. He’s in Year Two of being Batman.”
Prior to the trailer’s release, he previously teased some footage in February 2020, showcasing Robert Pattinson’s costume as Batman.
— Matt Reeves (@mattreevesLA) February 13, 2020
Fans are already speculating that the bat insignia is made from a gun – specifically the same gun used to kill Bruce Wayne’s parents. In the comics, Batman melts down the gun and uses the metal for his chest plate, so this will be a new take on how Bruce incorporates the gun into his costume.
— Sean Fewster (@SeanFewster) February 14, 2020
Is there a trailer for The Batman?
There certainly is, and it’s a pretty epic affair. We get our first-look at Robert Pattinson as The Batman in an Easter egg-filled clip.
— The Batman (@TheBatman) August 23, 2020
What do Catwoman, The Riddler and the Penguin look like?
In the trailer, we not only got our first glance at Pattinson’s Batman, but also Paul Dano as the film’s primary villain, The Riddler (armed with duct tape, and somehow making it incredibly menacing).
Speaking about the film’s antagonist, director Matt Reeves said at the DC FanDome: “Paul Dano plays a version of the Riddler that no one has ever seen before. What he is doing is going to blow people’s minds,” he added.
We also got first-look glances at two other antagonists: Catwoman and the Penguin.
First up, Colin Farrell (yes, believe it or not, that’s Colin Farrell) is completely unrecognisable as the Penguin.
While Zoe Kravitz wears what looks like an early iteration of the iconic Catwoman costume, suggesting that she, like Pattinson’s Batman, is in the earlier stages of her career.
What is the Gotham PD prequel about?
It looks like we’re getting a spin-off television series about Gotham PD, providing a prequel to the events of The Batman.
“The Gotham PD series will go into the corruption of the Gotham Police Department,” Matt Reeves said at the DC FanDome in August. “It goes back to Batman Year One… we’ll see these characters from a perspective we’ve never seen before.”
According to reports, director Reeves has also signed on for a full trilogy of Batman films, so assuming the first film is a success, we could be seeing Robert Pattinson’s Caped Crusader for a while yet.
What other Batman films have there been?
The Dark Knight is one of the most-depicted superheroes in cinema, with various iterations of the character played by different actors cropping up over the last few decades.
Excluding 1940s serials, the first time Batman turned up on the screen was in a spin-off from the popular 1960s TV series starring Adam West, with Batman: The Movie released in 1966 and remaining a cult classic to this day.
Following this the character was adapted by Tim Burton for 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns, where he was played by Michael Keaton opposite foes like Jack Nicholson’s Joker, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman and Danny DeVito’s Penguin.
After Burton and Keaton departed (though Burton remained as producer) Joel Schumacher took over for the Val Kilmer-starring Batman Forever (1995) and its sequel Batman and Robin (1997), which starred George Clooney after Kilmer had scheduling conflicts.
Following the poor critical and commercial response to the film (which is still remembered as one of the worst-ever superhero movies) Batman didn’t return to screens again until Christopher Nolan’s reboot origin story Batman Begins, which starred Christian Bale and sparked two critically-acclaimed sequels – 2008’s The Dark Knight and 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises.
Following that trilogy the character was rebooted again for Warner Bros’ connected DC universe, with Ben Affleck cast for 2016 crossover movie Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Affleck’s Batman also appeared in villain-based spin-off Suicide Squad (also in 2016) and 2017 team-up movie Justice League, the poor performance of which ended up inspiring Affleck to hang up the cape and cowl for good.
2017 also saw the release of comedy spin-off The Lego Batman movie, which saw Will Arnett reprise his role as Lego Batman from The Lego Movie for a critically-acclaimed, fourth wall-breaking riff on the Batman franchise.
The Batman will be released in October 2021. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.