If any filmmaker out there raised the bar for Batman stories on the big screen, it’s Christopher Nolan. When Batman Begins arrived in 2005, it brought a serious, grown-up, psychological version of the comic book icon to cinematic life, making all who saw it sit up and pay attention. By the time The Dark Knight arrived in 2008, it became one of the defining comic book adaptations of all time – a blockbuster behemoth with major cultural and commercial resonances. Trying to create new Batman movies in the shadow of that is no mean feat – and so with The Batman, director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark knew the high bar they needed to meet, or even clear.
In the spirit of friendly competition, Clark tells Empire that he was clear in his aims for The Batman. “I’ve said this to Chris Nolan directly: ‘Look, we’re trying to be the best Batman ever made, and we’re going to try to beat you’,” he says. And while Nolan told a character-grounded Bruce Wayne story across his three films, Reeves wants to really drill into all aspects of the man beneath the cowl. “Matt is interested in pushing this character to his emotional depths and shaking him to his core,” says Clark.
Though Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne is a relatively young version of the character, The Batman team are beginning in a different place to Nolan’s Bat-trilogy. If their film is still deeply influenced by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s defining comic book Batman: Year One, it’s not an outright origin story in the way Batman Begins was. “We’ve seen a lot of great stories about Bruce Wayne witnessing his parents’ murder and then trying to find a way to cope with that by perfecting himself into Batman,” explains Reeves. “But I wanted to do a story where he’s already been through the origins and does not yet really know exactly how to be Batman. It is a Year Two story. And I wanted you to connect to him. Not only as Bruce, but as Batman.” Could they possibly out-do The Dark Knight trilogy? It’s only a matter of months until we find out…
To read more on Matt Reeves’ take on the Bat, pick up Empire’s world-exclusive The Batman issue – also talking to Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Colin Farrell, and Paul Dano about their radical reinvention of the Caped Crusader. Find it on shelves from Thursday 23 December, and pre-order a copy here.