As is par for the course in the age of the Internet, the news of Robert Pattinson being cast as the new Batman caused quite a stir online. Fans collectively lost it and began shaming the actor for his complicit participation in the Twilight movies, which is extremely unfair.
Pattinson’s career thus far, has more than proven the actor’s talents and abilities. In fact, I would argue that his casting is actually an inspired choice that fits in with the new direction of the DC Extended Universe. A direction that is being led by Matt Reeves – the director of the new movie. Unfortunately, the world likes to dismiss talented actors based on their worst performances. Clooney still gets guff about Bat-nipples.
From Vampire Bat To Bat Man
Despite a recognisable supporting role in the Harry Potter franchise. Pattinson’s rise to fame came with the teen vampire ‘drama’, Twilight. Playing the melancholy vampire Edward, Twilight caused Pattinson to become a household name. However, the critical heat from those movies was not limited to fandoms.
Pattinson himself has admitted his ‘unease’ with the role, describing the script, the characters, and their reactions to events in the story, as weird and problematic. It is quite refreshing to hear an actor admit their earlier professional mistakes and learn from them; and is something that Batman would do.
Robert Pattinson: The Actor
Since then, Pattinson has gone on to amass a ridiculously good filmography under his utility belt, working with esteemed filmmakers of all calibers. The actor worked with David Cronenberg twice in Map To the Stars (2014) and Cosmopolis (2012), which was one of the earliest instances where Pattinson showed his range and ability.
His intensity continued in The Rover (2014), where he shared screen space with veteran actor Guy Pearce. Even so, he was able to hold his own and has gone on to attain several performance accolades since that time. His most recent performance in High Life (2018) has been heralded as ‘omniscient’. Therefore it is quite evident that Pattinson has the acting chops to embody The Batman.
Pattinson currently has six more films, in various stages of production, that are slated for release before we get to see him as Batman. His latest film is The Lighthouse (2019), a period horror film that premiered at Cannes 2019 to rave reviews. Pattinson also re-teams with his The Rover director for The King (2019), while also starring in The Devil All The Time (2020), co-starring Tom Holland. Thereafter he is stars in Waiting For The Barbarians (2020) alongside Johnny Depp, and will also apparently have the lead in the next Christopher Nolan film, which is rumoured to be an action blockbuster.
Pattinson has painstakingly proved that he is not an actor that needs commercial acclaim or box office success. His choices convey the intentional shaping of a career that is less concerned with fame and more with the strength of the role, challenges as an actor and an interesting script. Qualities that can only serve to enhance his portrayal of one of the most iconic DC Comics superheroes to grace the silver screen.
The History Of Batman’s Body
Alas, the internet will always find something to hate. In the case of Pattinson, it is his size, or lack thereof, that seems to be the focal point of most online discourse – despite the actor’s talent.
Any actor who has played the role of The Batman, can attest to how the physical demands of playing the famed Caped Crusader are unlike any other role. Affleck had to get in the best shape of his life to play an older and bulkier Batman in the DCEU. Let us not even get into the insane yo-yo routine of weight gain and loss that Christian Bale subjected himself to during the entirety of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. So if the complaints are that Pattinson is too small, he can easily bulk up. With that said, let us rewind a bit and take a look at Batman’s body – a sentence I never thought I would write. Thanks, Internet.
In most of his iconic first appearances from Detective Comics in the early 1940s, Batman was always seen as a lean and wiry man. Frank Miller’s 1986 run of The Dark Knight Returns was one of the first to showcase a Batman with a large frame. This trend continued with Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), and even went so far as to influence the Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. Since that time, the image of a Batman with chiseled abdominals and a perfect physique made for an action hero, has been perpetuated. However, Batman was always supposed to be an ‘everyman’, with above average intellect. Therefore it can be surmised that his supposed brawn was always an extension of his brains, to compensate for a lack of physically strong features.
Given that the new Matt Reeves-directed Batman is supposed to be a more noir story, featuring the detective that Batman is, instead of a flying-kick wielding martial artist; Pattinson’s physique is perfectly in line with that depiction.
Playing Batman is no easy feat. As if the current physical traits are not arduous enough to match, actors who don the cowl must still shoulder the brunt of public perception, which has been a mixed bag in recent years. While Bale was accepted with open arms in Nolan’s trilogy, Ben Affleck was almost beaten into depression by the reaction and reception of his Batman. It still remains to be seen how exactly this new iteration of Batman will fit into the existing continuity, but Pattinson’s casting as Batman should definitely be less of a concern, and more of what the new Matt Reeves movie is getting right.
Robert Pattinson is no doubt a talented actor, who has consistently maintained an impressive body of work. Thus when such an actor decides to foray into, not just mainstream cinema, but the biggest genre of films in the zeitgeist at the moment, superhero movies, it should be an event that is highly anticipated. I, for one, am definitely looking forward to Robert Pattinson’s Batman.