The more glimpses I see the more I find myself thinking about just what the new Batman flick will turn out to be, as the interpretations of the character over the years have been so varied that it’s hard to nail down just what the tone of the upcoming offering will look like. One thing that always sparks debate when the caped crusader takes to the silver screen is the man that’s going to be behind the cowl, and with the latest production, we get the considerable talents of actor Robert Pattinson taking on the role. Looking over his body of work, I can in no way deny that Mr. Pattinson has the chops to pull off any part that he puts his mind to playing, I’ll even bite the bullet and give him props for doing his best with a certain sparkly bloodsucker as much as it pains me to do so. But there’s just something about having him cast in this role that doesn’t set quite right with me, and looking back at my own collection of comics and graphic novels I think I’ve figured out just what that is.
Looking at anyone who’s stepping up to play Batman we can’t help but compare them those that have come before, trying to predict, or in some cases lament, how they’re going to stack up against the competition. Anybody who dons the iconic bat suit is bound to be put up against the classic portrayal of Michael Keaton or the gritty take that Christian Bale brought to the party, with even Ben Affleck and Adam West, and Val Kilmer being thrown into the mix by some, but not Clooney, NEVER Clooney. Every one of the men that tackled the part brought their own slants to the role, with each of them being unique and having their own merits and inevitable flaws along the way. But with each of the respective actors that stepped up to the plate I got a very a distinctive feeling from all of them, and that’s that they all felt like they could actually be Bruce Wayne, and with Pattinson, I just don’t get that.
I totally get that with Batman the real persona we’re dealing with is the vigilante crimefighter, with Bruce being the mask that died years ago along with his parents. But with Keaton, Bale, and even Affleck, I still got the impression that they all understood who Wayne was, getting the vibe of the somber, driven, and obsessed man that Bruce has become. Each captured the fact that Bruce Wayne is a distinctly flawed and broken individual when put up against “normal” society, but they also brought the feeling that he was very much aware of this, didn’t care in the least, and had totally become the identity of the Bat while completely forsaking himself. Their portrayals were almost soul crushing if you think about it, one man’s single-minded pursuit of what he thought justice should be while putting aside his own life for that ideal. Bruce turned his back on everything about himself to try and bring order to Gotham, utterly believing that he was the only one that could do so in a corrupt world gone rampant. They check off both aspects of the character in so many boxes, and that’s what’s missing from Pattinson for me.
From the peeks I’ve seen and the overall vibe I get I think the man is more that capable of pulling off the part of Batman, but where I worry is that he doesn’t strike me quite right for the character beneath the cape. Bruce is brooding, forged by a harsh world, and broken down from childhood, and in a way let the darkness consume and remake him to come our different on the other side, and Pattinson doesn’t bring that. What I get from Robert Pattinson is someone who has always stood against the corruption around him without becoming part of it or letting it take root in his soul, a man that’s looked at Bruce for years and thought no matter what happens I won’t let it drag me down to that level of singled minded obsession. No, I don’t get Bruce Wayne at all from Robert, I get Dick Grayson, and I think that’s the part he should have and the film they should make.
Over the years, we’ve had plenty of our fair share of Batman rehash stories, a boy seeing his mother and father gunned down in front of him only to become hard-bitten and seek his own brand of vengeance in the name of justice. It was done in the 60s, the 80s, the 90s, and the 2000s, and it’s the same mold they’re trying to squeeze Pattinson into now. I think they’re missing a great opportunity here to take the character in a fresh new direction for movie audiences, and they have someone onboard that is more than capable of making this part his own.
Imagine, if you will, Alfred coming into the Batcave to find Bruce a bloodied mess and half hanging out of the Batmobile, cradling Wayne in his arms as the man that was like a son to him takes his last breaths without so much as uttering a word. Now picture an older Dick returning to Gotham after a falling out with Bruce followed by a long absence, weary of the world but feeling obligated to track down Wayne’s killer none the less. We could have the drama of the parting of ways between Bruce and Dick from years earlier told through flashbacks, as well as Grayson taking up the cape and cowl and struggling to live up to the mantle. We could see Dick going down the dangerous road of becoming something that he always feared he would be, losing himself and being consumed by the persona and weight of the Bat. Imagine the character dynamics we could get when he sees Barbara Gordon for the first time in years, perhaps wheelchair bound just as she became in the comics and maybe partly blaming Dick for not being there and abandoning her and Gotham. And what a scene it could make when he finally comes to terms what he’s doing and becomes the Batman, visiting the maximum-security wing of Arkham Asylum to pump the Joker for information, the clown prince immediately knowing that something’s off and staging a mid-credits prison break to confront the man that has taken up the identity of his old foe in an inevitable sequel. Obviously, I’m going off on a wild fanboy tangent here, but I hope you get the point of the argument I’m trying to make, and yes, I know exactly who I would have kill Batman, and it’s Damien Wayne in the Talon guise come to claim Gotham as his own backed by his mother Talia. By embracing Pattinson as Dick Grayson rather than Bruce Wayne they could open up a whole new realm of story possibilities we haven’t seen yet, while still pulling in a great fanbase that would be anxious to see a familiar favorite in a new role. It could be an intriguing twist on a franchise that’s been retooled and redone far too many times as it is, presenting unexplored opportunities with a brand-new Dark Knight.
In the end, something like this will probably never be done on the big screen, relegated to DC’s animated universe if at all, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily. But with someone as talented as Pattinson in the lead I think it could be pulled off if done right, and by that, I mean very dark and gritty, with less over the top action and a strong noir detective vibe. I’m still going to check it out as I’m a huge a Batman fan and want to see what they do with latest interpretation, so hopefully I’ll be able to revisit the topic and bring you my thoughts on it then to see if they’ve changed. Until then I’m going to keep an open mind and just enjoy the hype, so let me know what you think about my idea or if I’m just being a wishful fool. As for now, I think I might have to go watch Keaton and Jack tear it up again, as I’ve just put myself in the mood for some great nostalgia. But before I’m done, let me ask you one question. Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
The Batman is currently filming and on hold with an October, 2021 release date.