The Batman: how the production created a DIY, slimmed-down Bruce Wayne
The Batman was 2022’s first bona-fide blockbuster when it released at the start of March, and it has gone to be a critical and commercial hit.
The film sees Robert Pattinson make his debut in the infamous cowl, with Zoë Kravitz playing Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman, Colin Farrell portraying The Penguin, and Paul Dano playing The Riddler.
As well as this, Andy Serkis has the role of Alfred Pennyworth, Jeffrey Wright is Commissioner Gordon, John Turturro plays crime boss Carmine Falcone, and Peter Sarsgaard is Gil Colson, Gotham’s district attorney. Matt Reeves, best known for his work on the Planet Of The Apes trilogy, is in the director’s chair.
In Reeves’ new take, we meet Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne in his second year of fighting crime as Batman, uncovering systemic corruption in Gotham City while also on the hunt for the Riddler, a serial killer who’s targeting Gotham’s elite.
Part of the success of The Batman, which has taken almost $800 million at the global box office, has been the introduction of Pattinson’s Wayne as a different take on the character – a younger, more febrile and more violent version of the Dark Knight, set against a brutally dark palette.
As the movie comes to DVD shelves, TechRadar spoke exclusively to James Chinlund, production designer on the movie, who revealed that he and Reeves wanted to both give the character a real do-it-yourself aesthetic and move away from the gadgets and high-end tech used by earlier versions of the character.
Chinlund told us: “Bruce is early in his development. He does it all himself. He’s not connected to Wayne Industries in the same way. This is a Bruce Wayne being built from the ground up. We approached everything we did in the same way. We had that in mind for the car and for the suit. We had that ethos. If Bruce couldn’t do it himself, it had no place. Everything was about the mission, everything was about him making himself the world’s greatest detective.”
That commitment to DIY-aesthetic was applied to the Batmobile, too, a look which Chinlund said the movie’s creative team agonized over.
“The car was a real pinch-point for our anxiety,” he explained. “We had to create a Batmobile that was impactful and exciting for the fans, but was also very grounded. We weren’t going to blow people away with amazing shapes and rockets shooting out. It’s a car, not a military machine. I was very nervous about fitting [it] in with the character, but also making it exciting.”
A sequel to The Batman is confirmed, with Pattinson and Kravitz booked to return. Chinlund, who had worked with Reeves prior to The Batman on both War for the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, wouldn’t be drawn on any details, nor if he’d even be returning for the sequel.
Our bet, having seen Chinlund and his team construct a pitch-perfect accompaniment to Reeves’ noir-drenched vision, is that he’ll be back. But we’ll have to wait for the sequel to see…
The Batman is available to own on digital download as well as on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD now.