The next Batman film will be the 11th live-action feature to showcase the iconic character. As per usual, details about this movie are closely guarded. Yet, recent Batman movie leaks may give fans some insight into what sort of film we’re going to get from Matt Reeves in 2021. Let me just state upfront, only some of this information is confirmed by anyone of importance. Some of it comes from the principals, such as new Batman Robert Pattinson or Reeves himself. Some of it comes from anonymous leakers, either actively involved in the product or adept at telling believable fanfiction. Still the Batman movie leaks out there suggest that this might be the sort of film comics fans always wanted. So, while it’s not certain these Batman leaks are accurate, they are worth discussing because of a key character element absent from the character for ten films.
These Batman movie leaks are not exactly spoilers (and not even necessarily true!). There are no spoilers below. However, if you want to go in knowing nothing about the movie at all, tread carefully. All the leaks tell us is what type of movie we can expect. So, unless you are so spoiler-phobic you even skip movie trailers, there is nothing from the Batman movie leaks that you don’t want to know. If they are true? Well, we’ll get a story that comics fans love but all the movie fans have never seen.
The Batman Movie Leaks Suggest We’ll Finally See the World’s Greatest Detective In Action
Image via DC Comics
All of the Batman movies since 1966 featured the “Dark Knight Detective” take on the Batman character. Yet all focus usually falls on the “Dark Knight” part and outsources the “Detective” part to flashy bat-gadgets. If the leaks are true, The Batman will be a movie that tackles the investigative side of the Batman character. Matt Reeves’ story will be a “neo-noir” murder mystery. Yet, the investigation will bring Batman face-to-face with a number of his rogues. Like the Gotham series, it appears that the main villains will be The Riddler and the Penguin. However, characters like Mad Hatter, Firefly, and Harvey Dent (who may or may not be Two-Face), will also make appearances. We’ll also get a fourth on-screen Catwoman, who will reportedly be a reluctantly heroic love interest once again.
Unfortunately, no one confirmed which villains we’ll see in the film. However, Matt Reeves confirmed that he plans to include multiple villains in his story. This is a risky move. Yes, audiences have a ten-movie frame of reference about who Batman is, and why he fights. Movie audiences don’t yet have the same perspective on the villains. The Joker, obviously, stands out in this regard. Yet, characters like Penguin, Riddler, and even Catwoman are often woefully one-dimensional. For a grounded film with real stakes, Reeves needs to make sure these villains aren’t mere caricatures of their comic book gimmicks. This may work for the Arkham Video Games, but not for a film that’s primarily a murder mystery.
A Batman Mystery Is Exactly What the Franchise Needs
Image via Warner Bros.
Jonathan Nolan may perhaps be best known for Westworld, but he boasts a Batman-filled history. He helped write his brother Christopher’s Batman trilogy, but despite this achievement he felt slightly unfulfilled. So, he created the show Person of Interest to tell the sort of street-level Batman stories the movies didn’t have time for. Things like Batman rescuing people from killers or actually solving a crime. After 10 go-rounds with the Caped Crusader, fans might actually be ready to tone things down a bit. Maybe instead of saving all of Gotham or the entire world, Batman can follow his own advice from Justice League. “Just save one” life at a time. A story like that will need the “flash” of a lot of recognizable villains.
Like Spider-Man in the MCU, we don’t need a Batman origin story anymore. We barely got one in Tim Burton’s Batman, and Batman Begins covered the “Year One” story pretty well. Audiences don’t need the city destroyed or even threatened. They need to understand why the Batman exists. A murder mystery where the perpetrators pay off the police or the politicians begs for a vigilante to solve it. In a city where these privileged criminals are costumed freaks, it makes perfect sense for that vigilante to be in a big, scary bat-suit. And fans also need to see that the Dark Knight does a lot more than just kick a lot of ass. And, due respect to Zach Snyder, he needs to save lives, not take them.
The Time is Ripe for a ‘Social Justice’ Batman Story
Image via DC Comics
The political media gets a lot of traction from mocking or supporting activists labeled “Social Justice Warriors,” who champion causes dealing with systemic oppression. At their core, these activists are people who recognize that political, social, and criminal justice systems do not work the same for everyone. Whether the divisions happen at economic status, ethnic or racial lines, or gender and sexual identity, their “America” is not your “America.” That’s the Batman story. A man with massive wealth and privilege lives in a city so desperately corrupt that his billions are not enough to affect change. And if he doesn’t have access to the circle of power, what hope do regular Gothamites have? Batman is a symbol meant to strike fear into the hearts of the wicked, but his scary ass is also supposed to be a symbol of hope.
When Frank Miller wrote a third story set in the original world of The Dark Knight, he opened the book with Batman kicking ass. Only he didn’t stop some crank-heads or muggers. No, he fought corrupt police threatening a young black male. He wanted to put Batman’s view of justice back into the proper context. Yes, he fights criminals that the police can’t, but he also fights criminals the police won’t. We need to see a Batman who doesn’t fight for vengeance or even justice, but for people. With Pattinson playing Batman early in his career, we get the chance to see a more idealistic take on the character. Batman doesn’t start fights he can’t win, but his mission is the ultimate unwinnable fight. His only victories are not in the criminals he puts in jail, but rather the lives he saves because of his intervention.
Batman Fans Need to Remember What He Stands For
Image via screengrab
Franchises with passionate fans find themselves in a strange place. Because of the aforementioned political divides in the U.S. and around the world, once universally-agreed-upon ideas now belong to one “agenda” or another. Iron Fist tells a white savior story about a wholly uninteresting child of privilege. Batwoman is a liberal agenda propaganda machine to devalue Batman and with him all men. That, somehow Superman, an alien from another planet with the powers of a god, always has to be depicted as a white man. Looking at these stories through a red or blue filter devalues the experience because people miss the foundational human values in these stories. One such idea is that every life matters.
Seeing Batman as the movie leaks suggest, working to solve a crime and prevent more death, is exactly the sort of story the franchise needs. We’ve seen him go head-to-head with his nemesis. He’s saved the world by bringing the Justice League together. And he’s able to pull off incredible things with equally incredible technology. Bruce Wayne may be the true mask where Batman is concerned, but he’s still a human being. An emotional, character-driven story is what Reeves promises. Showing how much he cares about a preventing a murder like the one that took his parents is all you need to tell a great Batman story.
What do you think about the Batman movie leaks? Are you excited for these villains or were there others you hoped to see? Tell us your best line-up of Batman villains in the comments or on social media.
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.