The Batman trailer breakdown: how Robert Pattinson's Dark Knight is different to all before

DC FanDome unleashed the latest trailer for The Batman and the final product looks sensational. Director Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes) unites with actor Robert Pattinson to bring us a toiling, terrifying new iteration of the Dark Knight legend, one that takes us back to Bruce Wayne's roots.


Here's what we learned from the new trailer.


1. This is a Batman who's yet to learn the art of self-control

That one shot of Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz) looking on in horror as Batman pummels someone into the ground tells you everything you need to know. Throughout each of the proceeding incarnations of Batman, whether it be Keaton, Kilmer, Clooney, Bale or Affleck, there was a feeling that justice was proportional. The various miscreants were punished according to the scale of their crimes.

Zoe Kravitz Catwoman The Batman trailer

However, Pattinson's Batman seems genuinely rage-fuelled, borderline sadistic, although there may well be a reason why he's pummelling the unseen figure in this particular shot. Maybe the beatdown stems from a personal revelation that has prompted an upsurge in anger. (There's a shot in the trailer with text reading 'Sins of my father' – could Thomas Wayne's background have something to do with it?)

It ties into Reeves and Pattinson's striking new interpretation of Batman, a youthful crime fighter just two years into his stint who is yet to perceive the elusive divide between good and evil. Bruce Wayne's relative inexperience in this movie is bound to blur our sympathies regarding his actions, which will surely result in a more complex and engrossing viewing experience.


2. He's also a Batman who prioritises vengeance above justice

In Christopher Nolan's game-changing Dark Knight trilogy, Bale's Batman learned how to weaponise the element of fear. However, Pattinson's portrayal looks to enhance the monstrous elements of the Batman mythology even further, beginning with the Bat-signal.

Usually a signal of virtuous hope, deployed to give the citizens of Gotham a hopeful rallying point, this time the signal's iconography is warped to strike terror into the hearts of all of Gotham's criminals. As Batman describes it: "A warning." It's a sign that an especially vengeful Batman is in-coming, and it won't be pretty, as evidenced when he appears to jam some sort of electronic device into a hapless goon's neck.

Reeves has acknowledged the influence of Frank Miller's seminal Batman: Year One, a comic book arc that recounted Bruce Wayne's first year as a crime fighter (although, as mentioned, he's two years in during the events of this movie). Reeves told Entertainment Weekly: "I felt that we've seen lots of origin stories. It seems things go further and further into fantasy, and I thought, well, one place we haven't been is grounding it in the way that Year One does, to come right in to a young Batman, not being an origin tale, but referring to his origins and shaking him to his core. You can have it be very practical, but I also thought it could be the most emotional Batman movie ever made."

The Batman trailer Bat signal


3. This Batman potentially puts others at risk

The notion that Batman's activities snowball and put other people's lives at risk isn't inherently new. Again, this happened in Nolan's trilogy, most notably with the death of Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and transformation of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) into Two-Face.

However, Pattinson's Batman seems altogether dismissive of anything that will distract him from his mission. Following a warning from the trusty Alfred (Andy Serkis) that he will have "nothing left", Bruce Wayne interprets this to include only the risk to himself. Once again, we're being presented with a proto-Batman whose naivete and recklessness may be just as dangerous as the actions of the criminals he's seeking to capture.

"For some reason, Batman has always stood out as one of the major characters of the 20th century, and so many people connect with it on such a deep level for so many different reasons," Pattinson told Entertainment Weekly. "From the first conversation I had with Matt about it, I just knew that there was something radically different [here]."

Andy Serkis Alfred The Batman trailer


4. He's vulnerable to the machinations of others

We're seriously excited to see how actor Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) interprets the role of The Riddler. We know that he's a serial killer (the screenshot below indicates that he live-streams his crimes), although what kind of killer remains to be seen. Given the way he leaves mocking clues for Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and Batman at his various crime scenes, this Riddler seems derived from the notorious Zodiac killer, whose story inspired David Fincher's masterful 2007 drama Zodiac. In real life, the Zodiac sent anagrams and coded messages to the police indicating who his next victim would be, so if the filmmakers are feeding off that, this new incarnation of the Batman myth may well have some chillingly plausible undercurrents.

We do know from the latest trailer that the Riddler gives himself up (possibly deliberately), in order so that he can taunt Batman from within his prison cell. Again, there are overtones of the Dark Knight as Pattinson's fledgling Bruce Wayne snaps and gives way to anger. However, whereas in the Dark Knight it was unusual to see Bale's Batman needled in such a way, this rage seems intrinsic to Pattinson's portrayal, suggesting a young orphan turned crime-fighter who can't perceive the magnitude of his actions.


5. This Batman is set to be a genuinely intimidating figure

That final shot of Batman walking towards the prone Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin (Colin Farrell)? It's sheer poetic perfection that bundles up all of our feelings about this new, tormented Caped Crusader. Backlit by flames and surrounded by chaos, Pattinson's Batman appears just as threatening as his quarry, if not more so. Previous movies in the Batman saga have tapped into Bruce Wayne's latent psychosis, but director Matt Reeves, in combination with cinematographer Grieg Fraser (Dune) and composer Michael Giacchino (Star Trek) is making it far more operatic and visually explicit. Frankly, we love it.

Robert Pattinson The Batman trailer