Closing out the DC FanDome virtual event was another of the most anticipated movie panels of the day. Director Matt Reeves took the virtual stage for The Batman.

Reeves set the stage by explaining The Batman is incredibly layered as a story: Part detective story, part mystery, part character study, he hopes it will reveal a Batman we’ve never seen before as it’s set very early on in Bruce Wayne’s career as Batman – he’s only in his second year of being the Caped Crusader. For example, while Batman being the world’s greatest detective isn’t a brand-new element to live-action movies, it’s not one that’s been explored in-depth and this movie will show how Bruce Wayne gets there. Little nods to the fact he’s still figuring things out are scattered all throughout the movie, such as the fact his cowl has tears in it; he’s not yet learned how to make it durable.

That newness to being Batman is what drives much of the tension of the story. The citizens of Gotham, for example, see him as a vigilante. “If you were in a city and there was a guy who dressed up as a bat and stepped out of the shadows and beat those guys up, I think we’d think, ‘Gee, that sounds a little dangerous,'” reasoned Reeves. In his version of Batman’s early story, Batman has not yet become the symbol of hope for the city he later becomes. Reeves assessed it bluntly: “The citizens are afraid of him, quite frankly. His legend is growing.” It’s part of what Bruce will confront in the story; we’ll see him make mistakes and grow from them. His version of Batman is much more green than the veteran crimefighter we’re used to seeing.

Just as Bruce Wayne is evolving into becoming Batman, so, too, are the petty criminals of Gotham City growing into becoming the formidable villains of Batman’s rogues’ gallery. In particular, Paul Dano plays a version of the Riddler that no one has seen before, says Reeves. Likewise, Zoë Kravitz’ iteration of Selina Kyle/Catwoman is exciting for the same reason. “It’s always about trying to square with what is new. That’s the exciting process of making a Batman movie, finding a way to make it your own and the actors their own but also to connect to fans so they go, ‘Oh, that’s my Selina!'” Reeves explained. The growth of all of the characters adds to the tension. “The whole movie is a snowball. You can feel the momentum building and building.”

But the evolution of crime and justice between Gotham’s villains and Batman didn’t come out of nowhere. The deeply corrupted city of Gotham had already laid the groundwork for the swelling of crime, which is exactly how it dovetails with HBO Max’s Gotham PD series, which Reeves is also overseeing. The idea is that the series will go back to Year One, to the emergence of the masked vigilante who starts to unsettle the city. You experience this from the point-of-view of the corrupt cops of the city and it becomes a battle for their souls. Who will remain good and who will ultimately become a crooked cop?

And now, some fun facts that Matt Reeves revealed:

  • Rob Pattinson helped design his own costume
  • Christian Bale told him to make sure he could go to the bathroom in it
  • A square in Liverpool is the shooting location for Gotham Square
  • The Batsuit, Batmobile and Batcave were all being worked on before Reeves even finished the script
  • The story is inspired by 70s street movies like Chinatown, Taxi Driver and The French Connection

And finally, the thing we were all waiting for, the first-look teaser trailer. And it…is epic:

Considering only 25% of the movie has been shot, that is an impressive teaser trailer. Real impressive.

The Batman is in theaters on October 1, 2021.

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