By now, you’ve probably gawped at the shadowy Robert Pattinson Basuit teaser for The Batman for as long as humanly possible – if you could make any of it out, that is. Hidden behind the dim black-and-red filter, though, are a handful of hints that could help provide an insight into what to expect from Matt Reeves’ 2021 Bat-revival.
That's right: despite being a 48-second clip that's out of focus for most of its duration, The Batman camera test offers us a fair amount of information regarding where the suit's design has taken influences and inspirations from. So, with that in mind, let's make like Bruce Wayne and do some detective work.
The Arkham games
Rocksteady’s series put its own spin on Bruce Wayne’s trademark cape and cowl, imbuing the Batsuit with a sharper, sleeker, more metallic vibe.
Its logical conclusion – the Arkham Knight – was like something thrown together during Jason Todd’s moody cyberpunk phase, complete with panel-like chest plates that closely mirror R-Patz’ own get-up.
Of all the classic suits – from Batman: The Animated Series, to The Dark Knight Rises, and even previous film interpretations (Bat-Nips notwithstanding) – The Batman Batsuit finds its closest cousin in the trilogy of Arkham games. On a more practical level, it could mean this version of the Caped Crusader is able to take a few harder hits than the big-screen Bats that preceded him.
While it may not be a direct callout, Reeves’ vision of the Batsuit has much of the home-made quality that Frank Miller’s origin comic, Year One, featured. In Miller’s work, Bruce has to make a patchwork proto-Batman suit out of black garments and whatever else he had lying around the Wayne Manor. Pattinson’s version takes that one step further.
The prevailing theory is the Bat logo on his chest is made out of the gun held by the man who killed his parents. Not only does it carry a fair amount of symbolism, it also looks pretty cool – which helps. It could also tease just how far we are into The World’s Greatest Detective’s stint as Gotham’s protector.
As most would have guessed going by Pattinson’s age, it could be early days – and even the opening 12 to 18 months – for Wayne in that role. This might not even be the final form of the Batsuit.
The Dark Knight Returns
Onto Frank Miller’s other seminal Batman work. The often-imitated, never-replicated story of an older, broken Batman taking the fight back to the mutant gang on the streets of a future Gotham City features two Batsuits: a heavier, armored piece (which was mimicked in the DCEU’s Batman v Superman), and a bulkier, more traditional suit to fit Wayne’s paunchier frame. While we haven’t seen The Batman’s version of the cape yet, the quick glimpse we do get is almost a carbon copy of The Dark Knight Returns’ design decision to drape it tightly around the shoulders in favour of the usual free-flowing effort.
Why did they choose red and black to show off the Batsuit for the first time? It could be traced back to Dark Victory, the ‘90s sequel to Batman murder-mystery comic, The Long Halloween. Just a quick look at the cover of the trade version shows just how similar the two are in tone and style.
It’s unlikely to be anything more than a neat nod to Batman lore, but recent rumours – including Kevin Smith mentioning on his Fatman Beyond podcast that the film could be based on The Long Halloween – makes this aesthetic all the more intriguing.
A Marvel character isn’t always the first thing that springs to mind when you think of The Dark Knight – but it makes perfect sense here. The red-and-black colour scheme is the most obvious comparison to be made, though the jawline and moulded eye-guards all scream Charlie Cox’s portrayal of The Man Without Fear.
One thing that counts against any early parallels, though, is we haven’t yet seen the top of Batman’s cowl. Once those ears are there, and hopefully nice and pointy, then those side-by-sides with Matt Murdock should fall by the wayside.