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Breaking Down ‘The Batman’ Panel Pt 1. A Director’s Vision
In a time where Cons are getting cancelled left and right, DC comics hosted quite possibly the most succesful digital style convention of them all with the widely successful DC Fandome Event. This event served to give us first looks and teases on upcoming DC Projects and build up the hype the public will have for them. We got to see things like the release of The Snyder Cut trailer, we got details about The Flash film, and a behind the scenes look at James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. However, despite the weeks having past, there was one thing released during this event that has continued to dominate the talking circles, and that is the release of the much awaited first trailer of Matt Reeves’ The Batman starring Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano, Collin Ferrel, and Jeffrey Wright.
Now while the trailer and the reactiosn to that trailer have gone viral, what I have seen far less of is coverage of the actual panel that Matt Reeves hosted where he talked at great length about his vision for this film, and honestly I think it’s an incredible disservice to just talk about the trailer and not what Reeves has put forward not only as a director, but a person who has loved Batman and that universe for a long time.
Now a lot of sites are kind of picking apart Reeves’ comments and are posting a lot of Reeves’ statements without context in order to serve a purpose. So in order to get the full spectrum of Reeves’ panel we are going to break it down into segments:
– A flawed Batman in Year 2/ A ROGUES GALLERY ORIGINS
– GOTHAM CITY, THE CHARACTER
– A FOCUS ON SYSTEMIC CORRUPTION: THE GOTHAM PD SERIES
A FLAWED BATMAN IN YEAR 2/
A ROGUES GALLERY ORIGIN
Throughout this film’s production there has been all sorts of controversy over The Batman rehashing yet another origin story. This was probably one of the biggest elements of the film that Matt Reeves addresses. This is in a way an origin story- but NOT of Batman. This story, based off what Reeves has put forward in this panel is the story of the rise of Batman’s Rogues. The journey of Batman, however, is one of a cemented hero that is not having quite the effect he has hoped to have.
In particular what excited me, and the thing I related to in the Batman story is that he isn’t a superhero in the traditional sense. You know he might have a cape, but he can’t fly… But if he has a super power, it’s the ability to endure, and not only the ability but the kind of compulsion… So to me, to tell a version of Batman, where again it wasn’t about how he became Batman, but about the early days about how he is Batman and he is so far from being perfect and watch us see him becoming what we know about him and see it in new ways… It’s all about learning how to be Batman. You know, the whole idea is this is all an experiment in the movie. The idea is that we’re in year two, it’s the Gotham experiment, it’s a criminological experiment. He’s trying to figure out sort of what he can do that can finally change this place. In our story, he’s in that mode and you see that he’s charting what he’s doing, and he’s seeing that he’s not having any of the effect that he wants to have yet and that is when the murders start to happen.Matt Reeves (DC FANDOME, The Batman Panel)
Reeves also goes onto saying that in previous films, Batman is when we see Bruce at his best, however, this Batman has not become that symbol that we know him as, he’s flawed. There’s a very important piece of the puzzle that Bruce hasn’t figured out yet and I have theories as to what that is, but we will get to that later. However, the other big piece of this movie is that it DOES serve as a starting point, and while it may not be for Batman, it is for the element of his story that has made it as long lasting as it has been: his Rogues.
I guess the one thing about the rogues gallery is that it actually, in a weird way, is the origins of a lot of our rogues gallery characters. Selena isn’t catwoman yet, that’s actually part of the journey. Oz is not yet the kingpin that he’s going to become, he’s “the penguin” and in fact doesn’t like being called the penguin, and the Riddler is just emerging for the first time, so that’s all incredibly exciting.Matt Reeves (DC FANDOME, The Batman Panel)
A flawed Batman who is facing a labor of futility against a corrupt city, and the birth of his Rogues is what Reeves teases in his film. However, there is another character that Reeves addressed during the fan Q&A. A character that is so integral to the Batman myth, that is often forgotten. No I am not talking about Gordon or Alfred, I am talking about Gotham City herself.
GOTHAM CITY, THE CHARACTER
During the panel, Reeves was given a bunch of questions from fans, and one of them asked about the approach Reeves had to Gotham. Reeves went on to discuss the personality his version of the city has, and how the city itself transcends its role as a setting and is a developed character in its own right.
You’re absolutely right (in response to Pedro, from Brazil’s question about Gotham). It (Gotham) is just as important as any of the rogues gallery. It’s sort of like the nature of what this place and the history of it is critically important to the nature of our story. It’s one of the things that I really wanted to do because it’s the center of this story especially the history of corruption in the city. I wanted to present it in a way that as really fleshed out. I wanted it to feel like an American city you’d never been to… Obviously the Burton one (Gotham) very, very theatrical and beautiful sets. And then Nolan had the version he created in Batman Begins and that was a particular thing and felt like parts of Chicago and parts of Pittsburgh. So what we are trying to do is create a version of it that you haven’t seen before… We have like a Gotham Square. So that’s like Times Square right, now if we shot shot in Times Square, you’d say I guess Gotham is in New York. But in our case, it’s actually going to be Liverpool. The idea is that we are going to liverpool where there’s all the sort of the foundation of the Gothic Architecture and then add all the more modern structures through CG but in a way that when you see the movie you’re gonna you’ll be like “where’s that city?”… So the aspect of Gotham and realizing it has been, for me, one of the great pleasures in getting to mount the movie.Matt Reeves (DC FANDOME, The Batman Panel)
With a Gothic inspired Gotham, Reeves plans to bring a fresh life to this city and give it a character in this film. This Gotham character is one built on a foundation of corruption and I think this is the perfect time to backtrack through the panel and talk about the heart of this Gotham’s personality that is being fleshed out through the recently announced Gotham PD tv show set in the same universe.
A FOCUS ON SYSTEMIC CORRUPTION:
THE GOTHAM PD SERIES
Reeves talks at great length about how corruption is the heart of this universe’s story in The Batman. It’s the defining characteristic of Gotham, and it’s the disease that Batman is trying to cure with little to no effect. However, there is another perspective of this corruption that we are getting. Just weeks before Fandome, it was announced that a spinoff series exclusive to HBO MAX set in the same universe of The Batman would happen and that we would get the perspective of the GCPD during the beginnings of Batman’s Crusade.
To me the idea of this story was a story in which Gotham, which has this sort of depth of corruption, and the idea that we could actually do this series that is going deeper into of it. Which in this case is the corrupt police department, the corrupt inner workings of the city… the idea is that we go back to year one, and year one is the beginning of the emergence, it’s the first appearance of this masked vigilante that starts to unsettle the city. You start to see the story through the point of view of these corrupt cops and one in particular. The story is actually a battle for his soul. He’s a cop over generations and the history of corruption in Gotham is enormous and goes back many years. The story is that as there’s this myth building in the background, you’re actually in a new place where you’ve never seen these characters before, some of which we’ll touch on that you may have seen from the comics but others totally new. Then you can go down an avenue and go into detail that you couldn’t do in a movie.Matt Reeves (DC FANDOME, The Batman Panel)
Now in case it hasn’t made absolutely and abundantly clear, corruption is the theme that is at the heart of this new take on Batman. And this goes back to the statement I made earlier during the flawed Batman section. Bruce has been giving an unrelenting direct approach to fighting the criminal element for two years, and it’s having no affect. From everything that Reeves has put out there in his panel, I believe that the crux of his journey as that the missing piece to his Batman is Bruce Wayne. Batman spreading fear to the criminal element is not enough. The war cannot be waged solely from the Shadows, and this war of the light is precisely where Bruce Wayne can be useful. This is honestly reinforced a lot by what we see in the teaser that Reeves released at the end of his panel. However, this piece is long enough, so you’ll have to check out part 2 as we dive into the trailer itself!
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