Before the release of The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves, many people were pessimistic about the casting for the character of Batman. Robert Pattinson, who was cast in this role, has proved his acting ability with films such as Lighthouse (2019) and Good Times (2017) in recent years, his role as the vampire Edward in Twilight (2008) is though too deeply ingrained in the public’s mind. Every time he is mentioned, there is an association with the character of Edward. It is both a fortunate and unfortunate for an actor. With the pop-up of the 2022 version of Batman, the public reviewed Pattinson’s career path over the past ten years again. Theatre projects, art films, he never stops getting rid of the stereotypes people give him. It’s time for Pattison to create a character like Batman, a character that requires both commercial value and solemn sense.
Unlike Marvel films, DC’s works are closer to film noir. This can be evidenced in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Snyder’s Watchmen or the Joker, directed by Todd Phillips, -released in the previous two years. It’s easy to find that The Batman is once again continuing a certain DC spirit in visuals – the gloomy tones, the industrial sense scenes, and the incessant misty, rainy day.
Building on the aesthetics of film noir, The Batman visually incorporates the beauty of various classical art styles, especially reflected in Gotham City’s appearance. From Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) to Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever (1995), and Batman & Robin (1997), and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight (2008), various creators vividly shared their own unique aesthetics in building Gotham City.
With the help of his art director Anton Furst, Tim Burton turned Gotham City into a place in decay. Foster’s initial sketches showed a nearly impenetrable array of buildings. “Gotham City is definitely based in many ways on the worst aspects of New York,” Furst told Starlog Magazine. In Joel Schumacher’s interpretation, Gotham is still under a sense of chaos. However, the art director Barbara Ling made the tones brighter and softer and combined Japanese modern architecture with Russian constructivism and surreal neon tones, which created a cyberpunk-inspired look. While Nolan’s Gotham City is the closest to reality. The majority of scenes were shot in Pittsburgh. There are fewer curves but more straight lines of buildings, fewer gothic spires but more Romanesque columns in the urban landscape. Nolan reduces the theatrical feeling of Gotham City.
In The Batman, Gotham City has some new signals different from the previous setting. The director Matt Reeves primarily set the filming location in the United Kingdom, including cities such as Liverpool, London, and Scotland regions. Several major buildings, such as the city hall, cemetery, orphanage, nightclub, etc., have a sense of dilapidated solemnity. For example, one of the crucial locations in the film, Gotham City Hall, is taken from St. George’s Hall. It is a representation of a neoclassical building in Liverpool. Architects consider St. George’s Hal to be one of the best examples of the revival of Greek architectural aesthetics. The art director James Zoolander’s design concept for the Gotham City can be summed up as “ruined Gothic architecture.” Gothic art is inherently dark, with a dead, twisted, mysterious, and eerie atmosphere, which echoes the film’s suspicious atmosphere and Batman’s taciturn and mysterious personality.
At the same time, Robert Pattinson’s performance gives Batman a sentimental temperament. Compared with previous versions of Batman, this Bruce Wayne is more like a dispirited and vulnerable poet, making him a more memorable character. The casting of Catwoman was undoubtedly a success. Each of Zoë Kravitz’s moves was as dexterous as a cat. The writer put more human nature to Selina, making her less ruthless and omnipotent. While this Selina has more emotional conflict, it sometimes seems that her behavior is irrational that lacks some of the cool wit that Catwoman should have. But on the other hand, the superheroes in DC films always share similarities in humanity with human beings instead of being unbeatable characters.
However, compared to Nolan’s Batman Begins, The Batman’s narrative pace is rather fluffy. Although there’re multiple parallel timelines in Batman Begins, each line pushes each other to form a causal chain. In the new Batman, some plots appear suddenly, such as the coincidental first encounter between Batman and Catwoman. At the same time, it is difficult for us to feel the specific action motives of a villain. For example, even though the Riddler exists throughout, we can only get a slight feel for the character through his lines when he confronts Batman.
But overall, the new Batman is a success both in prestige and at the box office. Perhaps it can make the public have expectations for the construction of the DC universe in this era.
Edited by Anna Hilbun