Holy hardcore Batman! The latest trailer for Matt Reeve’s The Batman has been released–and promptly viewed millions and millions of times by folks hungry to hear what Robert Pattison’s Dark Knight sounds like (‘cause, you know, he didn’t speak in the first trailer). Seems like Pattison has the Bat-voice down, but March 2022 is a long way away. So, how can you fill the Bat-void? Here’s a primer on the film, who’s in it, its inspirations, and what Bat stories can tide you over until the film’s debut.
First up, here’s the trailer for The Batman if you missed it…
What’s is the plot of The Batman?
The Batman appears to be a story about how the Riddler’s spree of terror reveals the lies that enmesh Batman, the police, and the powerful of Gotham City. A myth given form, Batman is a figure of tremendous violence and vengeance—but one interconnected with the machinery of the Gotham Police, who can signal him with their jagged Bat-signal. The murder of Gotham’s mayor with the accompanying warning of “no more lies” sets in motion a sequence of deadly riddles and mind-games that seem intent on awakening Batman to how he may be perpetuating the very problems he’s been trying to combat.
Who is in the cast of The Batman?
In grand Batman film tradition, Matt Reeves’s film features a wild cast of actors taking on the malleable but iconic dramatic personae of the Bat-verse. Robert Pattison and his stubbled jaw are the newest Dark Knight, and boy howdy is he an angry one. While the film hints at a dawning realization that Batman’s role in Gotham isn’t what he believes it to be, the glimpses we get of Pattison’s Batman are all raw, toxic violence cloaked in vagaries of “vengeance.” Paul Dano plays the film’s big bad, the Riddler, though curiously we don’t get to see his face—only his carefully plotted havoc and his impressive latte art skillz. Zoe Kravitz brings attitude and edgy glamour to the role of Selina Kyle, and Jeffrey Wright cuts a great trench-coated Jim Gordon. Grizzled Andy Serkis as Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred is intriguing, as is a barely recognizable Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot on his way to becoming the Penguin.
What to read and watch before The Batman
Given how darn dark The Batman promises to be, I might recommend spending a little time with the lighter side of the Batman world. Batman: The Animated Series is absolutely great fun — and a good watch for parents and middle-year kids—giving the viewer a noir Batman that’s also good fun. And you should definitely check-out Bat Manga! — a collection of English translations of Jiro Kuwata’s 1960s wonderfully zany Batman stories that grew out of that decade’s Batman craze in Japan.
If you’re curious to dip your toes into some of the stories that seem to be informing Reeves’s film, you might check out the following:
Court of the Owls
Batman: Earth One — Earth One paints a very human, inexperienced, and not-yet-quite version of Batman. Reeves’s film evokes a Batman who, likewise, hasn’t quite found his way, and has much to learn about what it means to truly be Gotham’s protector. Serkis’s rougher-edged Alfred also seems inspired by this story’s take on the butler.
Batman: The Court of Owls + Zero Year — Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s entire run on Batman is pretty great, but you might check out two particular story arcs to get in the zone for The Batman. The Court of Owls digs into the conspiracies and secrets that Gotham is built upon—secrets that Batman realizes his family is intricately wound up in. In Zero Year, the Riddler brings Gotham City to a state of de-electrified chaos: this comic arc is a good opportunity to see Riddler crafting brain-teasers for Batman that have real stakes for the people of Gotham.
The Batman hits theaters on March 4, 2022.