By Nick Romano
January 29, 2020 at 08:29 AM EST
  • Movie

The Batman begins. The next Hollywood blockbuster incarnation of the Dark Knight started filming this week with Robert Pattinson, the Twilight teen dream turned indie super star of The Lighthouse and Good Time, taking the lead role of Bruce Wayne, the billionaire businessman who fights crime under cover of night as Batman. Much has been kept close to the vest — or in the case of Bats, close to the cowl — but we continue to unearth pieces of intel, some of which come by way of director Matt Reeves, the filmmaker behind the Planet of the Apes prequel films.

Here’s what we know so far.

What is The Batman about?

No formal plot synopsis has been revealed by Warner Bros., but reports going around at the time of Pattinson’s casting suggested this won’t be an origin story. (We’ve had plenty of those already.)

Andrew Toth/Getty Images; DC Comics

“It’s very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale,” Reeves told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published in January 2019. “It’s told very squarely on his shoulders, and I hope it’s going to be a story that will be thrilling but also emotional. It’s more Batman in his detective mode than we’ve seen in the films. The comics have a history of that. He’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, and that’s not necessarily been a part of what the movies have been. I’d love this to be one where when we go on that journey of tracking down the criminals and trying to solve a crime, it’s going to allow his character to have an arc so that he can go through a transformation.”

Reeves and Warner Bros. both confirmed the film will also feature a number of notable Batman villains, including Catwoman, Riddler, and Penguin.

Actor Colin Farrell teased the story has “a really beautiful, dark, moving script, really gorgeous,” which aren’t words we typically associate with the dark and brooding Batman.

Who stars in The Batman?

Reeves released the first look at Pattinson in the Bat suit through footage from the actor’s screen test. Aside from the Lighthouse star, the director bulked up his main cast with a star-studded ensemble.

Pulling from Batman’s hefty rogues gallery, Zoë Kravitz of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and HBO’s Big Little Lies will play Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman, a role famously portrayed on the big screen by Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, and Anne Hathaway. Farrell, another face from the Fantastic Beasts movies and was recently seen in Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen, will star as Oswald Cobblepot, a.k.a. the Penguin. Love & Mercy‘s Paul Dano will also play Edward Nashton, a.k.a. the Riddler, and The Night Of‘s John Turturro will play mobster Carmine Falcone.

Among the good guys are Westworld‘s Jeffrey Wright and Reeves’ Planet of the Apes cohort Andy Serkis. Wright, also cast in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the Watcher in the Disney+ series What If?, will play Gotham City Police Department Commissioner James Gordon. Serkis, who’s currently set to direct a sequel to Venom, will play Bruce’s butler Alfred Pennyworth.

The Looming Tower‘s Peter Sarsgaard was also previously thought to play villain Two-Face, given a cryptic tweet from Reeves that featured, well, two faces. But Warner Bros. confirmed the actor will instead play Gotham D.A. Gil Colson, a new character created for the movie — or so he says. “I’m a district attorney and I’m basically a politician that has trouble telling the truth,” Sarsgaard told Stephen Colbert on The Late Show. Jayme Lawson of Farewell Amor was also confirmed in the role of mayoral candidate Bella Reál.

Who is involved behind the scenes?

Reeves tapped some names from his Planet of the Apes team to assist on The Batman, including production designer James Chinlund, film editor William Hoy, VFX supervisor Dan Lemmon, and executive producer Dylan Clark.

Cinematographer Greig Fraser (Warner Bros.’ upcoming Dune film); film editor Tyler Nelson (an assistant editor on Gone Girl), SFX supervisor Dominic Tuohy (a VFX supervisor on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), sound mixer Stuart Wilson (The Rise of Skywalker); costume designers Jacqueline Durran (1917, Little Women), Glyn Dillon (Star Wars franchise), and David Crossman (Star Wars franchise); hair designer Zoe Tahir (No Time to Die); and makeup designer Naomi Donne (1917) are also involved.

Will The Batman connect to the other movies in the larger DC universe?

Perhaps the answer depends on what you mean by the DC universe. If you’re thinking of a general DC universe where it’s presumed that other superheroes from DC Comics exist within the world of The Batman, then yes. If you’re thinking of the specific DC Extended Universe (DCEU) that originated with Man of Steel, probably not.

In July 2017, Reeves said on The Business podcast with host Kim Masters, “I have a vision for a way to do something with that character that feels like it resonates with me personally. When they approached me, what they said was, ‘Look, it’s a standalone. This isn’t part of the Extended Universe.” The director later clarified over Twitter, “Just to be clear: Of COURSE Batman will be part of the D.C. Universe. Batman will be BATMAN…”

On a micro level, J.K. Simmons played Commissioner Gordon in Justice League, while Wright plays him in The Batman. Jeremy Irons played Alfred beginning in Batman v Superman, but Serkis plays the character here. And, of course, Pattinson follows Ben Affleck’s Caped Crusader following Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League. It feels more like Joker, which starred Joaquin Phoenix in a very much standalone effort, and less like Aquaman, which branched off of Justice League. When asked, specifically, if The Batman connects to Joker, Pattinson said, “It’s kind of a different world.”

Since the polarizing critical and fan reception to Batman v Superman, Justice League, and Suicide Squad, Warner Bros. have been reworking plans for the DC movie slate. The consensus seems to be, yes, it’s connected, but if you look too much into it, you’ll probably find inconsistencies.

When will The Batman hit theaters?

Easy answer: June 25, 2021.

Will there be sequels?

According to reports, Pattinson signed a three-picture deal to play Batman beginning with this movie. Reeves, during the earliest stages of development, told Fandango in 2017 that he has “ideas about an arc, but really, the important thing is just to start… you have to start with one.”

This article was last updated on March 11, 2020.

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