Bat-mas is almost upon us, boys and girls. It’s that most wonderful time of the year, where an actor is revealed as the new Batman. This is decidedly different than when we get our first images and then trailer, which is more akin to Kwanza and Boxing Day, respectively.
While some outlets are claiming that the lead actor in the upcoming, as-yet-to-be-titled (though probably titled The Batman), Matt Reeves Batman flick is Robert Pattinson, others are saying that it’s actually a two-man battle for the cowl between the decedent Hufflepuff and Nicholas Hoult, AKA Dr. Hank McCoy. Each man is poised to wrest the Mantle of the Bat from Ben Affleck’s cold, dead hands, so as the announcement draws near, let’s take a moment to look at our potential Dark Knights.
When it comes to casting, the Batman franchise is no stranger to controversy. Batfleck and Heath Ledger are more recent examples of fan outrage, but it pays to recall that this goes back as far as the first Batman of the modern times. When it was announced that Michael Keaton would be playing the titular crusader, angry fans went as far as writing over 50,000 letters to the studio protesting the casting. True dedication to your fandom is paying postage to complain.
Fortunately for us, we don’t have time to look for postage stamps or figure out what to do with them. Hell, we don’t even have to worry about whether or not someone has actually been announced as a fictitious character before the e-petitions go flying and keyboards go clacking, which brings us to our first contestant, Robert Pattinson. Considering the foregoing, Pattinson should consider himself in good company, given the fact that there’s already a petition in circulation to have him replaced in a role that he doesn’t officially have.
While Cedric Diggory from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is likely Pattinson’s breakout role, he became a household name when cast as the coruscant nosferatu in the vampires vs. werewolves themed fantasy series Underw-…Twilight. Though the franchise did big bucks at the box office, it drew the ire of many an onlooker and, if you ever watched interviews of Pattinson as he promoted the films, likely the star himself. Despite the fact that Pattinson has been consistently working since the final film in the Twilight Saga was released in 2012, in the years since, he’s shied away from larger movies and stuck to decidedly more indie fare.
Enter the Dark (Knight) Horse candidate, Nicholas Hoult. Hoult’s breakout role is likely as Hank McCoy, AKA Beast, in the 2011 X-Men soft reboot, First Class, a role he still holds to this day. Hoult has been in a string of hits since then that include Warm Bodies and Mad Max: Fury Road.
With this iteration of the X-Men likely wrapping up with this next installment, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Hoult will be free to take on another franchise. While the actor is by no means the worst part of those films, their waning popularity carries as much baggage as the Twilight films did for Pattinson a few years ago.
What we know about the Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes, Cloverfield) helmed Batman film is that the director has stated that he’s looking for a younger actor to play the part. While Hoult and Pattinson fit the bill for that at 29 and 33, respectively, it is interesting that Pattinson is slightly older than Christian Bale when he began playing the role at 31.
Other than that, we know very little about the film, aside from Reeves’ desire to highlight elements of Batman that have been muddled through on the big screen, such as his intellect and detective skills.
The questions raised by the ages of the leading candidates are just as interesting. With a film like Joker in existence, we don’t know if this film will be part of the DCEU, whether or not it will take place in the same era and if the chosen actor will even be playing a younger version of the one portrayed by Ben Affleck. Reeves could even get super crazy (he won’t) and have his Batman be a Lazarus Pit reincarnation of the Ben Affleck version in order to have him meet the DCEU’s successful characters Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Shazam. While I’m not a betting man, I’m still certain that last scenario was floated by someone at Warner Bros.
While I do believe both Pattinson and Hoult have the requisite acting talent to play the part and they both generally look the part, where Pattinson has a leg up in my regard for him getting the role is with Christopher Nolan. Having recently been cast in Nolan’s unnamed upcoming film, I find myself relying on Nolan’s talent scouting abilities to inform my preference. While I haven’t loved all of his movies, everyone I’ve seen is technically well-done and well-acted, with only one exception that isn’t worth going into here. He does not work with bad actors.
All of that said, I prefer Pattinson for the role. He looks the part, has the acting chops and has been blessed off on by the godfather of the previous iteration of standalone Batman films.
In terms of what I’d like to see, I think Snyder nailed the look and feel of a Batman in combat during the warehouse scene in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I want more of that, but decidedly less…murdery, so Batman: Arkham Asylum, essentially. While Hoult has done action, what I described is more visceral and intense than what either actor has done to date.
I also believe that Reeves is right to focus on the detective aspects of the character. The bummer is that Nolan took a lot of the good early career material for himself. Between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Nolan used Batman: Year One and Batman: Long Halloween, both of which were great examples of detective stories. Although, that element was mostly absent when the stories made the leap from comic page to the big screen.
People believe this movie will take place in the 90s and are citing that as evidence that this will be a Batman more stripped of technology and forced to rely mostly on his “world’s greatest detective” skills, but such a belief ignores that fact that, even in the 80s, Batman had “wonderful toys.” So again, we really just don’t know.
“And sometimes, the best that we can do is to start over.” Given that Nolan mined some of the best early batmaning material already, I suggest one of three things, adapt Batman: Year Zero by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, adapt an episode of Batman the Animated Series (my personal recommendation is “Heart of Ice”) or create an original tale. I like the first two options because there’s great material there, but with the third option, I really enjoyed what Reeves did with the Apes franchise, so the idea of being surprised by his original work is too good to pass up.
Regardless of the direction they go, I’m excited for the announcement of the actor because this project seems to have been gestating far too long and the reveal will feel like real traction. Also, down the line, I’m going to sign my own petition to bring a new Robin to the big screen for the sequels. It’s been far too long. Logan gave the world a great template for how to bring a young character into stories like this.
Directed by Matt Reeves, The Batman (working title) is scheduled for release on June 25, 2021.
What do you think? Who do you want as the next Batman? What kind of flick do you want to see Reeves and Co deliver? Let us know your thoughts down below or on twitter @lrm_exclusive and @sirjonesiest.
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