Recently there’s been a rumour swirling about online that Robert Pattinson is being tapped to play the Bruce Wayne in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Now before we all lose our collective minds either from sheer frustration or jubilation, it’s worth noting two things. Firstly, this is indeed a rumour and neither Pattinson, Warners or any party has confirmed or denied this rumour yet. Secondly, the film is set to come out in 2021, which means between the time of our reportage to the film’s actual release, a number of changes could happen.
Keeping that in mind, we couldn’t help but wonder what the world would look like with Robert Pattinson as Batman. Won’t lie, a myriad of horrible things came flooding into minds upon pondering the prospect but as we began to earnestly take a look a Pattinson’s career, the prospect may not actually seem so bad. We definitely have some reservations but we can definitely see some potential as well. So here’s why we think Robert Pattinson’s Batman might not be the worst thing in the world.
Before we get into Robert Pattinson’s past, I think it’s important we address the giant sparkling elephant in the room, The Twilight Saga. It’s easy to knock on his comically bland performance and whispery voice before labelling him a bad actor but if you’re honest with yourself, it’s not entirely his fault. The Twilight Saga had shitty scripts adapted from shittier novels.
Before Twilight, Pattinson was best known for his role as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and frankly, he was a fan favourite. I remember because all throughout the year of the film’s release, people went on and on about how Cedric’s death was such a bloody tragedy. So the guy clearly had charisma back then.
But hey, maybe you’re hesitant to take a chance with him because of his part to play in Twilight? Maybe he’s forgotten how to act and now leans on his pretty boy looks to carry him through his roles? His co-star Taylor Lautner has most definitely resigned to that with films like Abduction before killing any chance of a meaningful career with Ridiculous 6. It may come as a surprise that post-Twilight series, Robert Pattinson has actually been making some serious strides in his career.
Believe or not, he hasn’t touched the tweeny romance genre after his stint in The Twilight Saga. In fact, he’s been dipping his toes into everything from post-apocalyptic dramas to biographical pictures to crime films. He’s wisely done his best to distance himself from his previous life as Edward Cullen, expertly avoiding typecasting. In the film The Rover, he plays a shadow of a man. For all intents and purposes, he plays a mentally challenged hillbilly trying to survive the end of civilization.
I found his role as Reynolds in Rover apocryphal. The only thing I’d say is that he makes too clear an effort to adopt the idiosyncrasies of his character with his head twitches and facial contortions. Overall, I see an admirable effort on his part to mature as an actor and that is worthy of commendation. The Rover was released in 2014, come 2016 we’d see him truly come into his own.
In films like The Childhood of a Leader and The Lost City of Z, we see him play strong supporting roles. The first one from Childhood being a future version of a little boy named Prescott. While the majority of the film is centred around the boy’s younger days, Robert Pattinson still manages to actualize the growing megalomaniacal nature of his younger counterpart, even with the brief screen time allotted to him. In the Lost City of Z, he did well as the grizzle and jungle-wearied Corporal Henry Costin who goes on an expedition to find a hidden city. Again, his time there was brief as well.
Right, so let’s recount what we’ve discussed so far. We know he’s capable of doing transformative performances, with Rover being his best one so far. He’s also comfortable doing dramatic roles as seen in his more recent films. If we’ve established one thing at least, is that he’s not an inherently bad actor. Furthermore, his strong jawline, sharp features and chiselled body wouldn’t discount his role as a young Bruce Wayne. Ultimately, an actor’s performance is a synergetic process, it requires the performer’s capacity and also the director’s vision and guidance.
Director Matt Reeves has proven himself in the past to be capable of crafting emotional and intricate dramas revolving morally complex, if not compromised characters. I’m namely talking about his time on the most recent Planet of the Apes trilogy. The man co-wrote and directed both Dawn and War of the Planet of the Apes so there’s little doubt of his directing capabilities.
He has stated that his take on Batman is going to explore the character’s detective side. It’ll also be focusing on a younger Bruce Wayne, following his journey as he comes to grips with his new identity as the Dark Knight. While Reeves hasn’t necessarily has had much experience in the realm of crime dramas, the man certainly does know how to create a compelling character arc, evidently with the character Caesar in his Apes films.
Personally, I think Reeves has the right idea of what a solo Batman film should be. Less focused on world-ending threats and more on Gotham’s underbelly.
A while back, there was a rumour that Reeves’ The Batman would be loosely based on Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One comic book. That would be the ideal source material for Reeves to draw inspiration from, seeing that the comic deals with Bruce Wayne struggling to take his place as Gotham’s defender. He’s green, he hasn’t yet won the trust of Commissioner Gordon. Bruce Wayne struggles to find meaning after the loss of his parents and in a single, solemn moment, he finds it.
Year One Batman is meant to be a sort of readers’ introduction to the world of the character. This is perhaps a role that could compliment Pattinson’s acting repertoire. He’s a burgeoning actor playing the role of a burgeoning Batman! Reeves has stated that his version of the character would undergo a “transformation arc” from rookie vigilante to the world’s greatest detective.
The role requires youth, vulnerability and an actor capable of performative range. Robert Pattinson would definitely fit the bill here from looks to the parts he’s played recently. His previous involvements in dramatic parts would qualify him for Reeves’ vision of a young Bruce Wayne.
Are there a number of things we are concerned about? Frankly, yes. Pattinson is a lot less experienced than say, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck when they took up the role of the caped crusader. There’s also the risk that he may conflate menace for melancholy, giving us an emo broody Batman. But as long Reeves has a solid idea of what he thinks Batman should be, then it’s safe to say that Pattinson will not be straying too far off the path. So, take heart and know that if Robert Pattinson is the face of Batman, it might not be such a dark one after all.