If you only know Robert Pattinson from The Twilight Saga, then news that he’s going to play Bruce Wayne in Matt Reeves’ The Batman probably came as a bit of a shock and then disappointment. “The sparkly vampire is going to play the Caped Crusader? NOT ON MY WATCH,” a fanboy angrily reacts, unaware that Pattinson has taken the notoriety from the much-maligned Twilight franchise and turned it into career opportunities to work with amazing directors. When we look at who we want young actors to become, we should look at Robert Pattinson.
Yes, Pattinson is a very handsome man, but so are a lot of young actors. What sets Pattinson apart is that he understood Twilight for what it was–a stepping stone to something better. While he was content to play the heartthrob from 2008 to 2012 with roles in movies like Water for Elephants, Bel Ami, and Remember Me, after he was finished with Twilight, he took the freedom that franchise afforded him and decided to work with auteurs.
Following The Twilight Saga, he worked with David Cronenberg twice on Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars. He teamed up with Animal Kingdom helmer David Michôd on the brutal revenge thriller The Rover. He worked with acclaimed director James Gray on the adaptation of The Lost City of Z and turned in a celebrated performance on Good Time. He can be seen in theaters right now in Claire Denis’ bonkers sci-fi movie High Life and his film with The Witch director Robert Eggers, The Lighthouse, is about to premiere at Cannes. Oh, and he’s about to start work with some scrappy up-and-comer named “Christopher Nolan”.
You don’t get this far just because you’re a pretty face and starred in some vampire romance movies. You get this far because you’ve got the acting chops and the professionalism that talented directors want to work with you. I don’t know what Matt Reeves’ take on Batman will be, but I do know that Robert Pattinson has the skill to pull off a role because he’s been proving it for almost a decade now. Twilight didn’t demand much from him, but it didn’t demand much from anyone in that cast other than the need to look pretty and be melodramatic. Pattinson has been proving he can do more ever since.
I also like that Pattinson isn’t immediately who you would think of as playing Batman, which provides a nice bit of fresh energy to the long-running series. While Christian Bale was slightly younger when Batman Begins arrived (Bale was 31, Pattinson is 33), his Bruce Wayne came off as older than his early 30s. If you’re going to reboot Batman, then don’t go with any half-measures. Don’t go with some Oscar-nominee in his late-30s, early-40s who seems like they can be gruff. Go with someone who will bring something unexpected and exciting to the role.
If you’re upset that Pattinson is Batman, you’re just letting the rest of us know that you only know him from the Twilight movies. If that’s the case, take some time this weekend to watch Cosmopolis or The Rover or The Lost City of Z or Damsel or Good Time or High Life and reappraise Pattinson. There’s no need to be behind the curve on this terrific actor.