Spoiler alert: If you haven’t already seen The Batman movie, we highly recommend you do so before returning to this article
The latest Batman film, aptly named The Batman (2022), provides viewers with a unique portrayal of the Dark Knight. We get to witness a darker and moodier iteration of the fan-favourite superhero.
This version of Batman is portrayed by none other than Robert Pattinson, the same actor who portrayed Edward Cullen in the Twilight (2008-2012) series of films. The moody nature of Pattinson’s depiction of the character is a welcome change during certain aspects of the film.
That being said, there are certain scenes in The Batman where we see parts of Edward Cullen’s character sparkle through, just like his skin in the sun. Bruce Wayne and Edward Cullen are two completely different characters. Despite this, they share a common interest in the need to protect certain aspects of their life. For Bruce, this is his need to protect the city of Gotham. For Edward, this is the need to protect Bella.
To take a deeper look at Robert Pattinson’s portrayals of both characters, it is a necessity to take a look at his acting style. An actor’s acting style can be analysed and broken down into a number of categories, two of which include character actors and personality actors.
A character actor is someone who is able to completely change their personality in order to adapt to a different role. An example of a well-known character actor is none other than Leonardo DiCaprio. No matter if you talk about his legendary performance as a stockbroker in The Wolf of Wall Street or his Oscar-winning performance as a frontiersman in The Revenant, he is one of the best to do it.
On the other hand, a personality actor is someone who reverts to the same classic character in each film. The perfect example of this type of actor is Adam Sandler. Sandler often finds himself starring in comedy films as the lead actor where we get that feel-good ending. To add to this, Sandler often inspires the casting process throughout his films and we see the same actors show up in his different films.
You can find more information about character and personality actors here.
At first glance, it feels hard to place Robert Pattinson in either one of these categories. Maybe it’s because we instantly identify him with Edward Cullen, almost how we immediately recognise Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. Funnily enough, Pattinson’s distinct acting style manages to link elements of Edward and Bruce together in a unique way.
Robert Pattinson’s moody acting style which was first publicised in Twilight may actually be the perfect match for this version of Batman. To inspire his tough upbringing, Bruce Wayne was orphaned at a young age due to the death of his two parents. He did inherit his families wealth, ultimately leading him down a path to fight crime in honour of his parent’s legacy. Since this film is quite early on in Bruce Wayne’s journey of becoming Batman, we can assume that he hasn’t figured himself out both emotionally and physically.
When Robert Pattinson was revealed to be the next actor for this Batman film, he was criticised for not wanting to ‘bulk up’ for the role. Previous Batman actors in Christian Bale and Ben Affleck gained a lot of muscle for their portrayals. As mentioned in his interview with GQ back in 2020, Pattinson discussed his thoughts on gaining muscle while depicting a superhero.
I think if you’re working out all the time, you’re part of the problem. You set a precedent. No one was doing this in the ’70s. Even James Dean – he wasn’t exactly ripped.Robert Pattinson
Throughout the film, we also find out that Bruce Wayne hasn’t fully figured himself out from a mental perspective. It’s almost like he’s a character who is still trying to figure out how to separate the lives of Batman and Bruce Wayne. We follow a broken character who struggles to recall the nights that he fights crime. He records the events of each night and returns to his Batcave to watch the footage while using his detective skills to analyse and solve the mysteries. Speaking of mysteries, we get a brilliant portrayal from the film’s lead villain in The Riddler played by Paul Dano. To put it simply, his acting style makes you feel a bit weird. His range of emotions is truly amazing, and he nails that ‘deranged villain’ archetype which has been seen in DC characters like Joaquin Phoenix or Heath Ledger’s Joker.
Towards the climax of the film, Dano’s character performs a version of the song ‘Ave Maria’ which inspires a gut-wrenching feeling of uncomfortableness as you watch him taunt Batman from behind the prison walls.
The main issue with this film is found in its incredibly long run-time. Standing at almost 3 hours long, you can see yourself checking your watch at certain parts of the movie wondering if it’s over. Despite this, we get some truly amazing cinematography throughout the longevity of the film, including a blood-pumping, adrenaline-filled car chase scene where the new Batmobile bursts through a pile of raging flames.
The introduction of Catwoman (played by Zoë Kravitz) creates the intriguing possibility of a Batman love interest. The two characters form an unlikely partnership despite their immediate differences. This partnership slowly blossoms into a romantic relationship between the two as they share a kiss near the middle of the film. At the end of the film, however, Catwoman decides that Gotham isn’t for her as she drives off into the distance, leaving Batman alone in Gotham. Would Edward Cullen have let that happen?
In terms of Batman’s character development, it feels a little bit confusing at times. We see Bruce as a bit of a reject to Gotham at the start of the film. By the end of the film, Batman’s torch-lit march through the swamp with a crowd of saved civilians wandering behind him leads to a Superman-esque portrayal of the Dark Knight saving civilians (aided by Nirvana’s ‘Something in the Way’, a track that sticks in your head after the conclusion of the film). On that note, the soundtrack by Michael Giacchino perfectly matches the dark and moody tone of the film. Despite the long runtime, this is a great start to start building a new universe in which Robert Pattinson’s Batman can thrive in future instalments.
With Robert Pattinson taking over the mantle from previous actors Ben Affleck and Christian Bale, the audience is treated to a brand new experience. We get to witness a darker, moodier and somewhat weirder Bruce Wayne, a truly envisioning outcast. The characteristics Robert Pattinson has brought from Twilight’s Edward Cullen to his portrayal of The Batman’s Bruce Wayne are a unique and a fresh feel to the Batman series.
With the sequel to The Batman being announced at the CinemaCon presentation on April 27, it’ll be interesting to see how Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson’s Batman can continue to develop over time.
It looks like vampires can turn into bats after all…
Photos by Luke Ross