The wait is almost over for one of the most hotly-anticipated movies in years. ‘The Batman’ opens in cinemas around the world on 4th March 2022, and bat-mania has once again swept the nation.
Director and co-scripter Matt Reeves brings a singular vision to the Batman universe in this fantastically dark and absorbing action-noir.
We caught up with the cast as they embarked on their UK media blitz to promote the film, with cast members Robert Pattinson (Batman), Zoe Kravitz (Catwoman), Paul Dano (The Riddler) and Jeffrey Wright (Jim Gordon) in attendance, discussing the making of the film, and how they brought their iconic comic characters to life on the big screen.
Congratulations, everyone on ‘The Batman’! It’s a very good film! How does it feel now that fans can finally see ‘The Batman’ and the iconic characters that you all portray?
Zoe Kravitz: It’s scary! It’s rare to be a part of a film where the actual release of the film is just as intense as the making of the film! And it’s exciting! And you know, we all poured our entire hearts into this film, and I really hope that they hopefully like it.
Robert Pattinson: Yeah, it was such an unusual shoot! I mean, the fact that it was such a long process. I think Matt Reeves has been working on this for five years. I was basically attached, for like three years. The shoot was, like, 15 months, basically. It feels very surreal! Just seeing the posters out – like, it is actually happening! And it’s starting to feel a little bit more real now. And also, I really liked the movie!
I’m glad. Because every character is an iconic character that has been portrayed before, but you’re doing it in your own way.
Yeah, I think every film that’s come before our film has been done in its own way. And it’s been a film for that particular time. And what really excited me about this script and Matt’s vision was that he was making a Batman for now, and really, kind of honouring the history of the franchise from 1939. And infusing this film with a relevance to 21st century Gotham that I think is really exciting. And I think it’s going to be thrilling for fans because it’s modern – it’s now but it’s also based in the origins of the characters – which is around mystery in detective work, and all of that good stuff.
So for you Paul, how was it portraying such a character as The Riddler?
Paul Dano: It was great. I mean, Matt gave us a gift with an incredibly beautiful, fully realized singular script. That was the foundation. And he’s doing a couple things – offering us the chance to do something that’s maybe a bit more real and grounded, and personal and emotional, and psychological, while also fulfilling the sort of archetypal duty that you have when you are entering a mythology. And I think somehow those two things have been married together.
And that was certainly the hope with this Riddler, that any contact with reality might actually make him more scary. But also still, it’s Gotham and he’s the Riddler. So even if Matt referenced the Zodiac Killer or something, I was always like, okay, but you know it’s ‘The Riddler’! So it was a challenge, but a pleasure and I feel relieved that we’re getting to release the film now, because I love it. And I think I’ll be sad in a few weeks when I go, ‘Oh, well, I guess I have to move on with my life’!
You just mentioned grounded – I think that we can see from the film that we’re seeing Bruce Wayne more – we’re seeing him out in the world without his costume on, which we haven’t seen before. And for you, how was that? How was that change?
Robert Pattinson: I mean, from the first read of the script is was a pretty drastic departure from the traditional way Bruce Wayne’s portrayed, like a society playboy. Again, he’s very much in control of the three aspects of his personality – his Bruce Wayne, the public-facing playboy (kind of a little bit), and The Batman. Since his parents death he has just weathered away, and he hasn’t worked on himself at all, apart from in this kind of obscure way, where you think the only way he can survive is creating this alter ego, which he wants to live in more and more and more and more.
And I think he doesn’t have an enormous amount of control over what’s happening to him when he puts that suit on. And he genuinely believes he’s another person when he puts it on. And he’s addicted to it. And then so when the red light comes on, it calls him out. I mean, it’s almost like he’s more afraid of his identity being revealed than dying, which is kind of because I guess it’s almost worse than death.
I felt like, throughout watching this film, the whole cast could have been the Robin to your Batman…
Robert Pattinson: That’s how I felt! (laughs)
I really like the relationship between these characters and the Batman. Robert and Jeffrey how did you guys work on that together?
Robert Pattinson: I mean, it’s kind of funny, because the story has pretty big stakes, like, the mayor gets killed and stuff, but I love their relationship in ‘The Batman’. He isn’t even known as Batman in the city yet. I mean, he’s literally just some guy with an outfit on. And Gordon’s saying like, ‘I just kind of like him’. And it’s kind of like he’s really out on a limb here.
Jeffrey Wright: Yeah, I think one of the questions that we asked at the beginning (and we asked the audience to ask), is ‘why this cape and cowl’? We don’t assume that it’s heroic. We don’t assume that it’s represents all of these things that we’ve come, over time, to know Batman to be. But we see it as odd. And that relationship is as well… between Gordon and Batman, there’s an oddness. You’ve seen the scene that we shot (actually on the first day) of the two of them walking into this crime scene filled with cops. And, you know, they’re looking at him through a strange lens and wondering, not only who he is, but Gordon, why are you with him?!
So immediately, they’re isolated together, I think, out of a type of desperation and a utility. And we drive on from there through this detective work, which again, goes back to the origins of Detective Comics, and is what Matt wanted to celebrate. Which is ‘Batman is the world’s greatest detective’. And in this case, Gordon as a cop on the streets.
One of the things I loved about this film is how physical it all was. I mean, Catwoman! Was there a lot of training to do?
Zoe Kravitz: Yeah, it’s rare to have a character whose physicality is equally as important as anything else that you’re going to do. And we had an incredible stunt choreographer named Rob Alonzo, who was so interested in who these people were, and where they were emotionally and found really interesting ways to infuse that into the stunt choreography. And I did watch plenty of cat videos, feline videos, and, you know, I loved the mystery behind the way they moved and their smoothness – and really wanting to find ways to just bring that elegance and that confidence to the character.
Robert, did you immediately say yes to this role? Or did you have to take time to consider the role? It’s a big shift from things that we’ve seen you in recently.
Robert Pattinson: It was definitely a yes. I mean, there’s something about the nature of the part that has been around for such a long time. And the fact that it has been reinterpreted a few times as well, it shows it has had so many layers and so many ways you can kind of play it, even though you’ve got half your face hidden. And it’s kind of bizarre, but you can put him into so many different genres and contacts. And also just the legacy of the people who’ve been involved – I mean, it’s a massive privilege. And when you put on the suit for the first time as well, you’re like, yeah! Like you can feel it.
Zoe, you gave Catwoman, a very human side. How was it for you to tackle such an iconic character?
Zoe Kravitz: It was intimidating. I think the hardest part is forgetting that there are these iconic characters. I think that really was half the battle, you know, and I think in order to really honour who these characters are, and play them as three-dimensional people, you can’t think of them as Catwoman. You can’t think of them as someone iconic. You just have to play a human being in a situation and hope that it all flows together.
Paul, was there a piece of music that helped you get into the character. Or another film that Matt Reeves suggested that helped you better understand what he wanted you to bring to the film by way of your character?
Paul Dano: Yeah, there was a few things, but Matt wrote the Nirvana song, ‘Something in the Way’ into the script, which is in the trailer for the film, which I found to be an incredibly potent, powerful piece of music… the lyrics, the vibration of it. And that coupled with what he had later in the film, and Aaron Copland’s ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’, which was used in sort of an ironic way because it’s this almost quintessential American heroic sound. And so putting those two things together was sort of okay, like the ‘Something in the Way’ is the essence here, but I’ve got to bring some of ‘this’ into it as well. So he gave those to me to toss into the script.
Jeffrey, in this film, Batman and Gordon are almost partners. Do you feel the character of Jim Gordon has more depth this time around?
Jeffrey Wright: Oh, well, I don’t know. He’s always Gordon. I think Matt was really clever in activating him. And in activating Gordon, I think he wanted to elevate again, the core elements of this film. Yes. You know, it’s a Batman film. Yes, there’s all that… you know, kinetic energy and all of that, but he really wanted to make a film that was layered and plot driven and focused on mystery. And this detective work being centred, allowed him to do that and also to pay homage to the films that he mentioned that he first loved.
He (Director Matt Reeves) and I are similar ages – I first fell in love with, you know, the Sidney Lumet stuff, French Connection, All the President’s Men that kind of golden age of American cinema in the 70s. So, I wouldn’t say that Gordon has more depth, but I think he does certainly have more to do in partnership with Batman in this film, which was exciting for me. And it serves the interests of the character, but I think also the interests of the film. And also, it really goes back to the core of what DC is about, so I think fans are gonna dig it. I think it’s right at the heart of things.
Rob when you were filming, what scene did you feel like you were really Batman? Or maybe there’s one moment during the shoot where you really had to stop and take note.
Robert Pattinson: Yeah, I mean, there’s definitely some! There was one moment where they were shooting on… they built like a whole eight blocks of Gotham out in Leavesden Studios. And there was one day when there are a lot of people playing cops and civilians around and I was walking across the street and the cape was blowing in the wind. It was just interesting, because they’re all English. And, just hearing stuff like… ‘You alright Batman!’ So that was probably the day I would say!
Paul, the Riddler costume is so radically different from anything we’ve seen before. But what were the influences? And how much input did you have in creating the costume?
Paul Dano: Well, there was a lot there on the page. And Matt certainly had some real life influences, like the Zodiac Killer. But what was cool about it is when you see the film, where Edward… who he was inspired by, but then maybe not having the same resources to make his costume. So we did work on it together, that stuff’s incredibly important, because you kind of try to also imbue it with the energy – like Rob saying that when you put on the suit – and so you know, I needed that mask to carry some of the character for me, because, you know, is a he’s a lot! So finding the right mask, and what that allows to come through for the character, somebody who was totally powerless to be able to feel powerful, but also for me, it allows something to come through that I don’t know if the same thing would without the mask.
And then we try this thing with the cling wrap because I thought I didn’t want to shave all the hair off my body because he should still be able to go out in the world and be some invisible guy. So I thought about the DNA I was just trying to cover – all these homegrown details without the resources. And I think it’s an effective costume. I think it’s fairly upsetting. Yeah!
What do you think of Selina Kyle’s style in the film outside of the Catwoman costume?
Zoe Kravitz: I think it’s awesome, right? I think the wigs were so fun. And the idea of her working in this kind of underground industrial club was really, really cool. And, you know, because we’re meeting Selina so early in her story, I think what we were really interested in doing is finding ways to kind of hint at the kind of latex Cat Woman suit that we know and love and finding ways to infuse bits of that into her into her style. And she is kind of playing this character all the time. And yeah, it’s so fun. I mean, it’s really strange putting on latex at seven in the morning every day. Some people do it!
Jeffrey, Jim Gordon is always the incorruptible cop in the middle of a world full of evil and greed. Would you say that he’s more faithful to truth and good, than to the duty imposed by his badge?
Jeffrey Wright: What’s wonderful about Batman as an idea is that they’re all human. They all exist in a city fashioned after New York City back in 1939. It’s a grounded thing. So they have their flaws and their strengths. I think Gordon represents a certain idea, or ideal about integrity and optimism and kind of, you know, in the midst of everything falling apart, you know, kind of rectitude. I do wonder and it’s explored in the comics to an extent in some of the contemporary stuff in an interesting way, who he is when the doors are closed, in his private world. But I don’t think he is an allegiance to institutions, I think his is an allegiance to the possibility of the integrity of institutions – but it’s more about this idea that in a simple way, you know, we can do better than this. And it’s not for an individual sake, it’s for the sake of the collective – and I think that’s what kind of makes him you know, an attractive figure in the midst of all the other things that are happening with the corruption and decay of Gotham.
‘The Batman’ is in cinemas everywhere from 4th March 2022.