Robert Pattinson has one huge advantage over every other actor who stepped into the boots of the Dark Knight. This is not his first go-round with a massive franchise of passionate fans, spanning age groups and various demographics. In fact, Batman’s place in the cinematic mythos of the past 30 years looms large. Unlike Superman, who will forever be (or not be) Christopher Reeve, but the Bat is a role an actor can do something with. Which is why Robert Pattinson wanted the role, and why he’s preparing for backlash if his Batman portrayal fails to land with audiences. In fact, the news of his casting in the Matt Reeves’ summer 2021 film, sent some fans into a panic. And he brings all he’s learned in the past decade with him into the role.
On the press rounds for The Lighthouse and Netflix’s The King, Pattinson spoke to a reporter from The Guardian for an in-depth conversation about acting. Taking the self-deprecation route, Pattinson downplays his ability “to act.” Of course, with strange roles in films like Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis and Map to the Stars, acting is something he can do. Still, he knows that most people will remember brooding Edward from Twilight and wind themselves up imagining a Batman who glitters in the sunshine.
What Robert Pattinson Said About Batman Backlash and ‘Art House Porn’
Image by Maximillian Buhn via Wikimedia Commons
The Batman has a release date already, June 25, 2021. This sounds like a long time to wait if you are a Batman fan. However, if you are trying to bring a brand-new Batman to the screen, it’s a ticking clock. Given the summer release date, filming could have started at the end of this year. Yet, it’s expected that The Batman will begin filming in early 2020. If the movie does well, Pattinson can expect to be back for at least two more over the next ten years. It’s a big commitment, and one he told The Guaridan he really wanted, because of “the power” in the role.
Yet, with the movie not even filming yet, he’s not that keen to talk about it.
“I’m already remembering what it’s like to talk about a movie where there’s an expectation. Whenever you say anything, people are like, ‘Argh! You idiot!’ Like, dude, I haven’t even started yet! … But there is no harsher critic of myself than myself, so I don’t need to worry about anyone else.”
He closes with a joke, likely to deflect the pressure from the $5 billion dollar bat resting on his shoulders. When asked if his Batman doesn’t land with audiences, he says he’ll fallback on “porn. But art-house porn.”
Of course, while Batman is an incredible gig to get, it’s tougher to keep. Michael Keaton got two bites of the apple, as did Ben Affleck. Christian Bale played the character three times, though some fans thought it was one too many. (The Dark Knight Rises is good, everyone, just not better than The Dark Knight.) And, of course, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Adam West only played the character in a single feature film. Done right, he’ll be Batman forever. Done wrong, and he’ll be Batman forever, but the way George Clooney talks about it.
Will He Get Backlash? Yes. Will He Deserve it? Probably Not.
Image by John Regan via Twitter
As evidenced by the backlash directed at Batwoman, any live-action story that touches this universe is under immense pressure. The actor who plays Batman isn’t evaluated on his performance, but rather against a person’s definitive Batman. (Usually the Batman from when they were a kid, to include Kevin Conroy’s version of the character, even though he only technically played Bruce Wayne in Crisis on Infinite Earths hour 2. So, no matter what Robert Pattinson or Matt Reeves does with Batman, fans will send backlash his way.
Yet, we should be rooting for our future Batmen (and Batwomen, of course). Because this is a great character who has been able to survive 80 years in the comics industry. If Law & Order can do 1000-plus episodes, we can handle a couple more decades of Batman stories. And, if his other recent roles are any indication, Robert Pattinson is going to give us a kind-of broken Batman.
My guess is that his take on the character will owe a debt to Frank Miller’s take on the character, but in his younger years. We’ll get a Batman who probably loves being a caped crusader a little too much. Our past two Batmen, Bale and Affleck, saw wearing the cowl as duty and a burden. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a Batman really into being Batman.
What do you think? Will Robert Pattinson get backlash for playing Batman? Will fans give him a chance? Share your thoughts, theories, and hopes for the next film in the comments below.
Featured image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.