Trailer Analysis: ‘The Batman’ and Matt Reeves try to transcend the genre
It took a couple of hours, but I was finally able to pick my jaw up off the floor.
Matt Reeves arrived at DC FanDome 2020 like a white knight, delivering the grand finale to the inaugural event and blowing away any and all expectations with a teaser trailer for the ages. After a year out of the spotlight, everyone was itching to see what they would bring this time around, and the question on everyone’s lips was simple: Could they even come close to topping it?
The answer is a resounding yes.
With filming completely finished and post-production well underway, Reeves and his cast and crew are truly showing off this time around with a longer, more action-packed and story-based trailer that is sure to hold over fans until next year. I had a blast picking apart last year’s teaser, so allow me to dig into this main trailer, giving my thoughts and piecing together what I can.
After a cold open of Riddler (Paul Dano) being apprehended at a diner during a police raid, we get the first footage of the Bat Signal being ignited by James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright). As we know, Batman is early on in his career and does not have a working relationship with the Gotham City Police Department yet, so it seems as if Gordon is doing this unilaterally and possibly in secret. The floodlight is not on the rooftop of the GCPD, but rather hidden in an upper floor of a high-rise that is under construction. This builds from the teaser we got earlier in the week. Here, Bruce says “Fear is a tool.”
The editing of the trailer leads us to believe that our inmate here is Riddler, which makes sense given the heavy constraints, which includes a collar that connects via chain down to his handcuffs. The lettering on his uniform seems to give away that this is in Arkham State Hospital rather than a regular prison. There haven’t been any rumors of Arkham appearing in “The Batman,” so it would be welcome surprise for audiences. Interesting to note that Arkham is of course typically known as Arkham Asylum, and the only mention of Arkham State Hospital in any Batman media is actually in 2019’s “Joker.” The name change for the mental health facility seems in line with Reeves’ grounded take on this world.
Battinson is naturally super pissed about something, striking the glass between them and asking Riddler what he’s done. The fact that they’re separated and Batman isn’t even allowed in the same room as him reinforces that Bats is not trusted by the establishment, and for good reason. The character seems far more emotional and unstable than in past iterations, and Pattinson is bringing a perfectly raw energy to the screen.
We next get some banter between Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz) and Batman in one of the trailer’s most outstanding shots. The two appear to be in the same high-rise where the Bat Signal is located, just on the edge of the frame. “I can take care of myself,” she reminds him as the sun rises.
As expected, Andy Serkis looks like the most grizzled and rough-around-the-edges Alfred to date. He’s the first to sport a beard and is showing off gnarly scars on his cheek and eyebrow but isn’t above wearing a vest and tie. More typical of the character is his warning to Bruce that he needs to stop whatever he is doing or risk losing everything. I am curious to see just how prickly things get between these two as Bruce tells him “I don’t care what happens to me.”
We get a very intriguing god’s eye shot of Bruce working out the Riddler’s plot, presumably in Wayne Manor. Riddler’s symbol is center, with different strings branching off. “Colson” refers to District Attorney Gil Colson (Peter Sarsgaard), who we saw victimized by Riddler in the funeral attack in last year’s teaser. “No More Lies” and “Mitchell” are connected to the murder of Mayor Don Mitchell Jr. (Rupert Penry Jones) is what seems to set off the events of the film – it is his funeral that is attacked – and “No More Lies” is what was written on his duct-taped face. Meanwhile, “Savage” refers to Police Commissioner Pete Savage (Alex Ferns) and “Renewal is a Lie” may be referring to the renewal of some license or contract having to do with the government or a company in Gotham. Lastly, “The Sins of My Father??” hints to Bruce finding out about potentially dark secrets in his family’s history…
Next, we get a peek at Colin Farrell’s Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a. Penguin as Batman takes down goons in a nightclub. Penguin appears, dressed in a suit with a bowtie and tells him to “Take it easy, sweetheart.” This is likely Penguin’s own club, the Iceberg Lounge, and he doesn’t want Bats scaring away his patrons. I am a big fan of the over-the-top energy and attitude that Farrell is bringing, sounding like a gangster that wouldn’t be out of place in a Scorsese pic. It seems like he will be a spot of comic relief in an otherwise grim film.
Catwoman and Batman once again seem to be standing together at the Bat Signal when Selina goes leaping over the edge. Why? The answer may have to do with what looks like Gordon restraining Batman from behind, the two possibly struggling over the grappling gun that Batman has in his hand. In the teaser, we saw a scene in which Bats was in handcuffs and surrounded by police in a prison. Perhaps this is some sort of ambush to capture him.
But what would capturing Batman be without a good escape sequence? In the teaser, we saw Batman grappling hook his way through a building, with people watching from a staircase all around him. Many predicted that this would be his escape from the police, and this section of the trailer seems to confirm it. The Royal Liver Building, where the production was set up at last year in Liverpool, England, seems to be acting as the GCPD headquarters in the film. A giant clock face adorns the building, and Batman is perched on the edge, activating a wingsuit-type mechanism and leaping as cops rush up behind him.
The jump includes some epic first-person, GoPro-like shots from the back of Batman as he jumps, with a cop reaching out to try and grab him, as well as a face-first view of the plummet. It is capped off with a view from the inside of an office, looking out the window as Batman goes whizzing by. The wingsuit element once again reinforces the realistic angle Reeves is taking here. This isn’t some imagined military tech like in the Nolan films or Batman just flying through the air with a normal cape like in the Burton films. This is based on a real-world method that you would need to use to do what Bruce is in this scene.
We get a quick few glimpses at some character-building moments, like Batman relentlessly beating someone while Selina watches in fear and Bruce walking with his back to the camera, exposing his bruised and scarred back. Once again, if tensions between even Bruce and Alfred are raised, how safe and comfortable is anyone else going to feel around him? This is an intriguing place to start with all these characters, especially when a trilogy can be used to grow and develop them and their relationships.
One of the most confounding moments in the trailer involves Batman using a flare to navigate through a dark, flooded area, with at least a couple dozen people following his lead. My initial thought was that this may be a group of police that he is working with on a mission, but there is one telling detail. His suit is positively riddled with gunfire, probably from the stunning hallway sequence from earlier in the trailer. Could the pitch-black hallway scene be Batman attempting to rescue a group of people, and now this is him leading them out from whatever darkness in which they were held?
Of course, I have to comment on the utterly badass conclusion to the trailer, which highlights just how powerful this iteration of the Batmobile will be. Despite being a relatively normal vehicle, unlike TDK trilogy’s Tumbler or Batfleck’s machine-gun laden vehicle, it can take hits and deliver hits even harder. It all crescendos with Battinson hopping out and stalking Penguin in the rain and fire as Michael Giacchino’s instantly iconic theme rings out. It is going to be a long wait until March 4, but all signs point to it being the cinematic event of 2022.
“The Batman” releases exclusively in theaters on March 4, 2022.
Johnny Sobczak View All
Johnny Sobczak is an entertainment journalist and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in Media and Journalism and minored in Global Cinema. Johnny is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and has been with Inside the Film Room since August 2019. He was named Senior Writer in January 2020 and co-hosts the Inside the Film Room podcast with Zach Goins. Johnny spends his days job-hunting, watching films and obsessing over every new detail of Denis Villeneuve's "Dune."
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