Robert Pattinson had never been interested in playing a superhero —until Ben Affleck quit his role as Batman, leaving the famous cape unexpectedly up for grabs.
Having spent the past decade mainly working on critically acclaimed arthouse movies, former Twilight actor Pattinson requested a meeting with the filmmakers entrusted by Warner Bros. to revitalize the beloved franchise.
“He sought me out… and somewhere in that meeting, he brought up Batman,” producer Dylan Clark told AFP.
Although Pattinson, now 35, appeared to feel “a little bit suspiciously” about fronting a “giant big studio movie” again, he was “genuinely interested in the character of Batman and Bruce Wayne,” said Clark.
“And he has that jawline, so that was very helpful,” added Clark.
The result is The Batman, out in US theaters on March 4, starring Pattinson and directed by Clark’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes collaborator Matt Reeves.
It finds Bruce Wayne in only his second year as Batman, when his nocturnal detective work has not yet earned him the trust of Gotham’s police or public.
Pattinson’s vigilante is still figuring out his tactics and his motivations for stalking the dystopian city’s criminals, and his famous villain-busting gadgets are still rough prototypes.
Even compared to Christopher Nolan’s gritty trilogy starring Christian Bale, The Batman is notable for its macabre, noirish tone.
Batman himself cuts a forlorn, almost depressive figure, partially inspired by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, whose music also features prominently in the soundtrack.
Pattinson, fresh from a supporting role in Nolan’s mega-budget sci-fi film Tenet, “wanted to play a part that was physical,” recalled Clark.
“What he didn’t know was that Matt’s script was going to take that character on an emotional-physical ride and that he was going to really have to put himself through the wringer.”
This Batman, Clark added, “is a dark hero and he can sometimes come across as an antihero. Vengeance definitely fuels his drive.”
The film finds Batman on the heels of the Riddler (Paul Dano) —a serial killer in the sinister style of the real-life Zodiac Killer, or the recent Netflix true-crime series Mindhunter.
The Riddler claims to be impelled by a sense of justice against Gotham’s corrupt elite, and his crimes—broadcast on social media—attract a cult-like following among the city’s disaffected and disenfranchised.