Director Matt Reeves spilled some seriously major details about The Batman during the DC FanDome event on Saturday. Over the course of The Batman panel, Reeves not only touched on his approach to this particular Batman story, but also what makes this movie different from previous Batman iterations while also adding something new to the Caped Crusader’s on-screen depiction.
One of the biggest talking points to emerge from Reeves’ interview with Aisha Tyler at DC FanDome was that The Batman will not be an origin story. We know the impetus behind Bruce Wayne’s decision to become Batman, we know about the pain of his childhood; it’s all be said and done in numerous movies and TV shows. So how can The Batman change it up? Well, according to Reeves, it begins with Bruce’s humanity, as well as his fallibility. Since The Batman takes place in the second year of Batman’s work as a vigilante in Gotham, we’ll still see those early stumbles as he develops his skills but it’s not quite beginner level. As Reeves put it:
“He isn’t a superhero in the traditional sense. He might have a cape, but he can’t fly. He’s like you and me. But if he has a superpower it’s the ability to endure. And not only the ability but the kind of compulsion [to do so]. So that idea of being that driven by your past and by the things that you can’t quite resolve in yourself, like, he’s a very alive character. To me, to tell a version of Batman where, again, it wasn’t about how he became Batman, but it’s about the early days of how he is Batman and he is so far from being perfect and we see him sort of becoming what we all know about him and see it in new ways. I felt like that was a way to do something that hadn’t been done and that was really what I was excited to be able to do in this iteration.”
Reeves continued to discuss how The Batman isn’t exactly the origin story we think it is later in the panel. At one point, Reeves began discussing how The Batman will weave together an exploration of the history of corruption in Gotham with Bruce’s work as Batman at this very early phase of his vigilantism. As we saw in the first teaser trailer, the crimes being committed in The Batman test Bruce and expose his own origins in a new way.
“The other question is: What is good? One of the things that I think is interesting is learning how to be Batman. This is all an experiment in the movie. The idea is that we’re in year two of the Gotham experiment. It’s a criminological experiment. He’s trying to figure out what he can do that can finally change this place. In our story, as he’s in that mode where you meet him and you see that he is charming but […] he’s not having any of the effect he wants to have yet, that is when the murders start to happen and then the murders begin to describe the history of Gotham in a way that only reinforces what he knows about Gotham. It opens up a whole new world of corruption that went much farther. But as that story starts to come out, without being an origin tale for him, it ends up being something that touches on his origins. So you start to see that as it starts to describe this epic history of corruption in Gotham, you start to understand, ‘Well, where did [Bruce Wayne’s] family sit in that?’ In that sense, I think all of that is a way to take a story that is a detective story, a very point-of-view story, a mystery, it’s got action and all that kind of stuff, but at the end of it, it also is incredibly personal for him. And even though it is this story in which he’s trying to understand and unravel this mystery.”
Reeves also answered a fan question related to The Batman‘s exploration of the Dark Knight’s early days as a vigilante and how the city of Gotham will perceive him at this point in the story. As Reeves explained, the citizens of Gotham don’t necessarily see him as the beacon of hope he eventually becomes in later years. Instead, the relationship between Batman and Gotham is much different in The Batman.
“Because it’s still early and because [Batman] is a vigilante, which means he takes the law into his own hands, […] he’s not yet the vision of the character that he becomes where he becomes a symbol of hope for the city. He’s early in the trajectory. So, they’re afraid of him, frankly. He’s kind of a growing legend. I think there are some people wondering, ‘Does he exist? How exactly does he exist?’ That legend is building day by day and has been since he made his first appearance about a year and a half ago as we’re in year two. So yeah, the public is afraid of him. I mean, that’s one of the things I think he will confront in the course of the story and that Rob has to deal with in playing the character, which is the idea of how he’s perceived.”
So, one of the big takeaways from Reeves’ DC FanDome comments on The Batman story is that, even though this movie doesn’t directly deal with Batman’s origin story, what happens will force our hero to confront his own origins and relationship with the history of Gotham. It’s a clever path around Bruce Wayne’s well-trod origin story, to be sure. It should also hopefully hint that Reeves has given some careful thought and consideration to making his take on Batman as unique and interesting as possible. Sure seems like we’re in good hands on this one.
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Allie Gemmill is the Weekend Contributing Editor for Collider. You can follow them on Twitter @_matineeidle.