The Batman is set to return next year. Where Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Val Kilmer, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck have gone before on the big screen, Robert Pattinson will follow. There's every reason to be excited for the Matt Reeves-directed reboot, too, beyond the leading man, as you'll come to find out.
Not only is it potentially the most packed Bat-movie ever in terms of its rogues' gallery, but it's also offering up utterly unique takes on everything from the Batmobile to the Batsuit, and even how it expands on its universe.
That's because The Batman is getting at least one spin-off on HBO Max. The Sopranos writer Terence Winter is taking the reins on a GCPD series, while who knows where the box office adventures could take us next?
So, sharpen your batarang and stock up on your shark repellent: here's everything you need to know about 2021's The Batman.
The Batman is getting a spin-off prequel
Hell to the yes. The Batman is getting a spin-off centred around Gotham City's boys in blue. It'll be coming to HBO Max at an unannounced date.
According to Variety, The Batman's director, Matt Reeves, and its producer, Dylan Clark, are both signed on as executive producers. Boardwalk Empire creator and The Sopranos writer Terence Winter will write the series.
The Batman could restart filming in September (with a big difference)
The Batman might be able to restart filming in September. That's according to journalist Kris Tapley, who hosts the Netflix insider industry podcast, The Call Sheet.
However, all locations have purpotedly been scrapped, meaning we're unlikely to see any genuine outdoor shots that haven't been manufactured in a studio. What that means is unclear right now, but Batman Begins was also filmed almost entirely in-studio, so don't expect it to be negatively impact the finished product.
Hearing THE BATMAN picks back up in September. All locations scrapped. Building everything in studio now.July 13, 2020
The Batman will have a presence at DC's FanDome event
In the absence of Comic-Con and, well, any major crowds at events for the foreseeable future, DC has taken its output online with a mega convention-style event in August.
DC FanDome runs for 24 hours from August 22 and The Batman is confirmed to be featured in some way, shape, or form. With filming having been curtailed (see above) don't expect more than a brief teaser, with maybe a logo and some screens of the full Batsuit a likely possibility. DC's other big heroes will also show up, with Wonder Woman 1984 and the Justice League Snyder Cut also on the schedule.
The Batman release date: delays push it back to October 2021
Sorry, folks. The Batman is the latest victim of all the coronavirus-related delays striking the industry. The series of Warner Bros. delays announced on April 20 has pushed the Caped Crusader's reboot back to October 1, 2021.
If you discount Batman v Superman, this is the first solo Batman movie in nine years (The Dark Knight Rises released in 2012), making it the longest gap between Bat-Flicks since Tim Burton’s Batman arrived onto the scene.
Co-writer Mattson Tomlin is pretty stoked about the new release window, saying on Twitter that it "suits the mood." Long Halloween, anyone?
😍 October. Suits the mood. pic.twitter.com/RrobO0i1hcApril 20, 2020
No trailer for The Batman, but we've got a Batsuit-themed teaser
There's been no official trailer – but Reeves has revealed an apparent camera test for The Batman, which features Robert Pattinson in the Batsuit. This video is moody, immediately bringing to mind Marvel and Netflix's Daredevil series. The coloured lighting, the slow-building music, the out-of-focus shot that slowly forms into Pattinson in the Batman suit. It's the opposite of DC's colourful and loud, yet still brilliant, Birds of Prey.
There's actually a surprising amount we can learn from the footage, with nods to Frank Miller’s origin comic, Year One, and the Arkham games. Here's our deep dive into how the Batman games and comics have influenced Pattinson's Batsuit
The Batman cast
First, the main man: Robert Pattinson will be playing Batman/Bruce Wayne. However, it was a long road to get there.
In May 2019, Deadline reported that director Matt Reeves had two people on his Batman wishlist: Robert Pattinson and Nicholas Hoult, who had previous superhero experience as Beast in X-Men. After much debate on social media, Pattinson was eventually cast as Batman a few weeks later.
Speaking about his upcoming role, Pattinson told The New York Times: “His morality is a little bit off. He’s not the golden boy, unlike almost every other comic-book character. There is a simplicity to his worldview, but where it sits is strange, which allows you to have more scope with the character."
He's also working on the Batman voice, having revealed a surprising inspiration for his disguised growls: Willem Dafoe.
Joining Pattinson will be Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright, who is playing Commissioner Gordon. He was previously linked to the role via The Hollywood Reporter. Reeves confirmed it on Twitter in September 2019.
Tweet! #Gordon 🦇 pic.twitter.com/O4PBX7MmuHOctober 30, 2019
Fleshing out the cast further is Catwoman, played by Zoe Kravitz. Signing on in October, Kravitz may have beaten several others to the role. Hobbs and Shaw’s Vanessa Kirby was at one time mooted as a frontrunner for the role of Selina Kyle, yet Kravitz won out in the end.
Also jumping onboard board The Batman is Paul Dano, who will be playing The Riddler. The news broke just a day after Jonah Hill decided to walk away from talks about playing an unnamed Batman villain, believed to be The Penguin. More on him in just a minute.
The Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood actor is now tasked with bringing the character of Edward Nygma (renamed Edward Nashton for The Batman) to life. It’ll be the first time The Riddler has appeared in a live-action Batman movie since Jim Carrey took on the role in Batman Forever.
Colin Farrell and Andy Serkis were tapped to play The Penguin and Alfred Pennyworth respectively. Serkis has been confirmed by Matt Reeves, though Farrell wasn't officially brought in as The Penguin until January 2020. Again, Reeves tweeted out the news.
Wait — is that you, #Oz ? 🦇 pic.twitter.com/xHj9m6OXhfJanuary 6, 2020
But all of these stars can't get equal screen time, right? During an interview with the GMA Network, Farrell teased that he only has a bit-part to play: I haven’t got that much to do. I have a certain amount in the film. I am not all over it by any means. But there are a couple of some tasty scenes I have in it," he said.
Meanwhile, yet another villainous figure is entering the fray: John Turturro will be playing mob boss Carmine Falcone. The character also appeared in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, portrayed by Tom Wilkinson in Batman Begins.
Peter Sarsgaard is joining The Batman as Gotham District Attorney Gil Colson, though a recent duality-themed Instagram post has fans wondering whether he'll be playing Two-Face. Rounding out the cast is Jayme Lawson as Gotham mayoral candidate Bella Real.
Finally, in what appears to be the last set of casting announcements, Max and Charlie Carver will play mystery roles.
Hey Matt. https://t.co/xuKujFS6PdOctober 14, 2019
The Batmobile has been revealed
Alongside the screen-test featuring the Batsuit comes a look at the Batmobile, as well as a fuller look at Robert Pattinson's cape and cowl.
🦇🏎 #TheBatman pic.twitter.com/qJFNprk1utMarch 4, 2020
As you can probably tell, Matt Reeves' version of Bats' vehicle does away with the high-tech gadgetry of previous iterations in favour of a lean American muscle-style V10 car.
What appears to be new shots of The Batmobile have been revealed in a now-removed post on concept artist Jeff Frost's website.
Frost, who has worked with Warner Bros. before on Batman v Superman, has shown off a mini model of Bats' souped-up ride, including the backend. Take this with a pinch of Bat-Salt, however, as it's far from official as of writing.
Concept Model Maker Jeff Frost posted some pictures of a model of #TheBatman's Batmobile on his website! pic.twitter.com/xHNkj6WYtvMay 31, 2020
The Batman villains include Riddler, Penguin, Carmine Falcone, and Catwoman
Riddler, The Penguin, and Catwoman (if you want to count the anti-heroine as more of a villain) have been confirmed for The Batman, meaning the Caped Crusader will have his hands full with those looking to terrorise Gotham. But there could be more on the way.
Carmine Falcone will also be rocking up in Gotham's underworld. He'll be played by The Night Of actor John Turturro.
Forbes had also namechecked “Two-Face and a host of other villains” as being scheduled to appear, alongside the then-unconfirmed Riddler and Catwoman. That hasn't materialised... yet. Peter Sarsgaard joining the cast as D.A. Gil Colson, however, fills a very Harvey Dent-shaped role. If the whispers grow louder and turn into something tangible, even Arkham Asylum could struggle to hold the heaving villainous cast.
The Batman plot – and rumours
Nothing has been confirmed when it comes to The Batman plot just yet, though director Matt Reeves has spoken briefly about the story.
“It’s very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter, “It’s told very squarely on his shoulders, and I hope it’s going to be a story that will be thrilling but also emotional. It’s more Batman in his detective mode than we’ve seen in the films. The comics have a history of that. He’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, and that’s not necessarily been a part of what the movies have been. I’d love this to be one where when we go on that journey of tracking down the criminals and trying to solve a crime, it’s going to allow his character to have an arc so that he can go through a transformation.”
Tracking down the criminals is a plot thread worth hanging on to – as it’s been mentioned explicitly in a recent rumour on Kevin Smith’s FatMan Beyond podcast. According to the Clerks star, The Batman will be taking cues from The Long Halloween, a famous Batman comic series that involved The Dark Knight tracking down a villain who causes chaos across several holidays.
The Batman, though, isn't going to be a re-telling of the origin story we all know so well.
What evidence of that approach? It can perhaps best be seen in the teaser for the Batsuit (scroll back up for that), featuring what appears to be a Batman logo made out of gun parts. Could this be the weapon that gunned down Bruce's parents in Crime Alley?
Serkis also hinted that there's something to the suggestion that the movie will perhaps be darker and broodier than those that have come before.
The Batman director
Matt Reeves signed on to direct The Batman back in 2017 – after Ben Affleck stepped down as director. Affleck eventually left the cape and cowl behind, but Reeves stayed and has been helming the project ever since.
His most famous work to date is Cloverfield, with his work on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes also widely acclaimed.
The Batman set photos
One sneaky member of the public has snapped a series of set photos from The Batman set on-location in London. There's even a quick glimpse of what appears to be Robert Pattinson on a motorbike.
Can confirm 100% as he never revealed his face but is this Robert.....!? 🦇 pic.twitter.com/MX90S7bqolJanuary 6, 2020
The Bat-Bike (patent pending) was also spotted in Glasgow, which gives a better look at the Batsuit, including the top half of the cowl which was left mysteriously unseen in the first cryptic teaser for The Batman.
Looks like billionaire Bruce Wayne's Batman suit can't even deal with Glasgow rain. Here are some exclusive @PAImages shots of filming for the upcoming The Batman movie in the city's Necropolis https://t.co/kefDovb56a pic.twitter.com/l9XNTn2zVCFebruary 21, 2020
Is The Batman linked to the DC Extended Universe?
With Joker having been such a success, there’s been some question over whether future DC movies will have fewer ties to the DC Extended Universe. The Batman will apparently link in with other DCEU movies, rather than being a DC Black release. That should mean Pattinson’s Batman could face off against Jared Leto’s Joker rather than Joaquin Phoenix’s Clown Prince of Crime, but at this stage nobody seems too sure.
Before the script was complete, Reeves commented during the 2018 TCAs: “There are ways in which all of this connects to DC, to the DC universe as well. We’re one piece of many pieces so I don’t want to comment on that except to say that I’m focused very specifically on this aspect of the DC world.” So, is it or isn’t it connected to Justice League/Aquaman/Wonder Woman/Suicide Squad/Birds of Prey? Hopefully, we’ll get a definite answer soon enough.
Find out about the best iterations of Batman's arch nemesis with our best Joker rankings. Plus, see how Bats has fared previously in our newly-updated list of the best superhero movies, in this multiverse or the next.