What's On film exclusive: In conversation with the stars of The Batman
Including whether we might get a Batman streaming series…
Due to hit cinemas in March this year, The Batman promises to be a caped crusader story that is fundamentally different from anything we’ve seen on the big screen before. It will stand alone, a full bat span away from all the other DC Universe releases. And from the trailers, it certainly feels like director Matt Reeves’ vision of the billionaire vigilante is a much darker, more conflicted, human take on the costumed detective. As well as being more emo than a trip to the city to see a marching band. The Batman is a year two story, which means we join the hero in his formative years beneath the cowl, where he’s finding his feet, finding out who he can trust, and indeed who he truly is.
What’s On was able to secure a regional exclusive, talking to some of the talent from both sides of the camera. This is what they had to say:
Matt Reeves (Director)
What’s On: Matt even from the trailer, this feels like a saga that’s building, can we look forward to a series of Matt Reeves Batman movies? And if so how many more could we expect?
Matt Reeves: From the beginning, I wanted to create a standalone Batman universe – ‘a Batverse’ that could be definitive in its own way. And in doing that, we created a world that feels super expansive … this iteration feels fresh and new and different, something you haven’t seen before. And there was a point, with the movie where the script was getting longer and longer, and I thought, this would have been an amazing series about year two Batman, but they were like — you gotta do the movie first, so I was wrestling it down but I always felt like there were paths that you could take, getting into more detail with all of these characters, where you can focus on them in a really rich novellistic way that streaming is totally suited to do. So we have plans for that as well, but I can’t tell you how much of it will come to fruition, that depends on how the audience connects.
Robert Pattinson: Bruce Wayne/Batman
WO: Traditionally Batman has to balance external foes with an internal battle, both inside his own mind and the ghosts of his family history, should there ever be a resolution for this character, can he find peace?
RP: It’s a difficult thing to accept, that at the end of your character’s ark, you’re never going to be OK. But in some ways that is kind of what Batman’s journey is. I think with this story, he’s unclear what his purpose is, he truly believes he can change the fate of Gotham — but he’s dismissed by everyone, and the people of Gotham are just as scared of him as they are of the criminals. The most he can hope for in this story is that he starts to believe he can have an impact on the city, and improving his own life in a healthy way. Because where we begin with Bruce (Wayne) it’s a very destructive road he’s on, he’s accepted ‘ok I’m probably going to die doing this, but if I don’t do it, I’m dead anyway”.
Andy Serkis: Alfred Pennyworth
WO: Has there been anybody in your life that you see as an Alfred, a sort of semi-parental figure that’s been able to give you sage advice?
AS: Probably more friends than parental figures, certainly a particular older friend of mine — who at a certain point my life was instrumental in guiding me. I didn’t draw from that relationship, but thinking about it now, I can certainly relate to it.
WO: We could probably all do with an Alfred right?
AS: 100 per cent
Jeffrey Wright: James Gordon
WO: In the world of Batman, James Gordan is one of caped crusader’s closest confidantes, in this particular movie where are we at in the ark of their relationship?
JW: This is a year two story for Batman, a post origin story, so we’re on the ground floor of the building of their relationship. What I appreciated about Matt’s script is that he’s kind of peeling off these assumptions that we make about the characters, and Gotham and their relationships — the first scene we shot was one where Gordan and Batman are walking into the room with all of these cops, and it’s a whole window into the story for me because, it raised in my mind some questions that could be taken for granted: “Who is this guy in the weird animal suit? It’s strange that Gordon is with this guy, with all these alleged associates of his? Immediately we begin to ask these questions, and in this instance they are asked through the eyes of Gordon’s colleagues in the Police department. All of these assumptions are being reconsidered and particularly, although the relationship between Batman and Gordon is somewhat established, it’s still new and maturing, that’s where we are at the beginning of the film and we see where it goes.
Peter Sarsgaard: District Attorney Gil Colson
WO: Peter your character is an original in the DC Universe. If I could ask you to respond to this question, in terms of how your character would see the answer: What’s the biggest problem in Gotham, is it street crime, corruption, or that orphan vigilante?
PS: I mean it would be pretty disingenuous, but he’d probably say that it was corruption *ominous silence*
John Turturro: Carmine Falcone
WO: One of the cocreators of your character, once said that he based the character on Don Corleone, did that inform your portrayal of the role?
JT: Not really, but I could see from the comic that he really influenced it, but no, I didn’t want to stuff my cheeks with cotton.
Dylan Clark (Producer)
WO: You’ve worked with Matt Reeves now on a number of big big projects, what do you think are the key strengths for the relationship between you two?
DC: We both grew up with the Z channel, it’s just dumb things like this, we just have similar cultural touch points — we both like the muscularity of stories that deal with men, but we’re not afraid of the intimate, emotional moments. The best movies always have those dichotomies inside of characters. We both are empaths, so we always tried to find the best in the worst of the worst people. A lot of movies miss that step, of trying to find out why that bad guy is how he is. I don’t have the ability to do the things he does, I just sit there and marvel at his direction. Everything is in service of character and emotion and theme.