Batman, the masked and caped superhero, has made at least 20 appearances on the big screen, from his cinematic debut in 1943’s Batman serial starring Lewis Wilson, the 1966 movie adaptation of the camp Adam West TV series, to Tim Burton’s gothic 1980s and 90s interpretations and Christopher Nolan’s 21st century The Dark Knight trilogy.
The most recent have been DC Universe versions and even Lego adventures.
You might think that’s enough, but fans would disagree, particularly as Matt Reeves’a take on the story, with Twilight heartthrob-turned-indie-darling Robert Pattinson donning the famous cape, promises to bring something entirely new to the table.
Here’s what you need to know of the new Batman movie:
When will 'The Batman' be released?
Following rewrites, changes in director, a recasting of Batman himself, and finally pandemic postponements, The Batman will finally release in UAE cinemas on Wednesday, March 3.
It premiered in the US on March 1, and will hit cinema screens in other countries on March 4.
We should perhaps begin with who’s not involved. You may remember, back in the mists of time, Ben Affleck was due to co-write, direct and star in his own Batman film as part of the DC Extended Universe. This isn’t that film, and it’s unlikely we’ll ever see it.
Affleck stepped back from directing in January 2017, initially saying he would still play Batman. War for the Planet of the Apes director Reeves was brought on board but didn’t feel he could work with Affleck’s script and wanted to cast a younger actor as Batman.
In August 2018, Reeves announced his own script was almost complete. With Affleck in rehab and mid-divorce it looked unlikely he’d be reprising the role, and in January 2019, his departure was confirmed, although he will be starring as Batman in The Flash, which is slated for release in November.
Pattinson was unveiled as the new Batman in May 2019 – Reeves claimed he’d written the part with the actor in mind, but was unsure he’d accept after turning his back on blockbusters since his high-profile role in the Twilight saga.
Further casting announcements quickly followed, including Jeffrey Wright (James Bond’s Felix Leiter) as James Gordon, Paul Dano as The Riddler, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman and Colin Farrell as The Penguin.
Andy Serkis is the latest big name to take on the mantle of Batman/Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth.
What’s it about?
Ostensibly, Batman is the tale of an orphaned billionaire who deals with the trauma of his parents’ murder by dressing up as a bat and fighting crime with the help of an array of expensive gadgets.
Reeves has promised to bring something different to our screens. The director has cited influences from horror to film noir, the last days of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain and the Batman comic Year One. That doesn’t give much away in terms of plot specifics, but does suggest we may be getting the darkest big-screen version of this darkest of superheroes.
Reeves has also confirmed this will not be another origins story. We won’t be seeing the events that led to the creation of Batman, but instead join him in Gotham, where he's already in the early stages of his crime-fighting career.
Pattinson has said his Batman will focus on the character as detective – one of Batman’s many alter-egos is “the world’s greatest detective”, but this is often overlooked in favour of bombast on the big screen.
The new film is set 20 years on from when Wayne's parents were murdered, and while it does away with the well-trodden origin story, the narrative still winds around his own family history in a highly satisfying way.
Pattinson's Batman is dragged into a murder case involving the mayor of Gotham, The Riddler (Dano), The Penguin (Farrell) and Catwoman/Selina Kyle.
Finally, The Batman will not be part of the DC Extended Universe, but a stand-alone film outside it. The last time DC released such a stand-alone film was 2019’s critically acclaimed, audience-adored, Oscar-winning Joker. Let’s hope history repeats itself with The Batman.