Why did Matt Reeves choose to use a Nirvana song in The Batman? When the first trailer for The Batman dropped at the DC Fandome all the way back in 2020, fans were blown away. Everything about the teaser was exquisite, but the most notable thing about the trailer was the music.
Nirvana’s ‘Something in the Way’ was used to introduce the world to Robert Pattinson’s Batman. On paper, it seems an unusual choice to score a Batman movie with a piece of pop music that never charted, but there’s something about this downbeat and mopey tune that suits Pattinson’s, DCEU adjacent Dark Knight.
It may be because he was in Twilight and is therefore intrinsically linked with emo-ness if that’s a word (Editor: It’s not) in my head. But clearly, there’s something more to it than that. Matt Reeves has said that his take on the Caped Crusader is directly inspired by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain after all. So what is it about this song that makes it the perfect Batman song? Well we’re glad you asked…
Something in the Way explained
The apocryphal reading of Something in the Way is that it’s about a period of time when Cobain was homeless. The lyrics “Underneath the bridge, the tarp has sprung a leak, and the animals I’ve trapped, have all become my pets” were believed to be a direct reference to the time he spent living under the Young Street Bridge, a bridge close to where he grew up.
Cobain’s sister Kim however, disagreed with this reading, as have several other people who knew him, saying that while he was indeed homeless, he never slept under a bridge. Nirvana bassist told Cobain’s biographer that the river’s muddy banks would have made sleeping there uncomfortable if not impossible.
So if it’s not about homelessness, then what is it about? According to the man himself (via Rolling Stone), it’s about an imagined version of Kobain who’s living under a bridge and dying of AIDS. Not exactly the type of song you expect to score a superhero film, but hey, it works!
Why did Matt Reeves use this Nirvana Song?
Reeves has claimed that the song’s inclusion in the film was a happy accident. Apparently, he was writing a draft of the screenplay and Something in the Way came on, he thought it sounded cool, and it resonated with his interpretation of Batman.
“When I write, I listen to music, and as I was writing the first act, I put” on Nirvana’s ‘Something In The Way’ Reeves told EMPIRE. “That’s when it came to me that, rather than make Bruce Wayne the playboy version we’ve seen before, there’s another version who had gone through a great tragedy and become a recluse.”
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Drawing inspiration from Cobain’s life, he created a fictionalised version of Cobain, who became Wayne (Editor: No more rhyming please) living in a decaying manor (or tower as it ends up being in the movie).
If we could indulge our inner English literature student, though, beyond the moody and despondent melody – which work really well – with the Batman, the lyrics hold some relevance to the Dark Knight’s crusade.
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The bridge and tarp leaking could be perceived as a reference to the urban decay of Gotham, the “animals he’s trapped have become his pets” refers to the criminals he’s imprisoned and who he obsesses over to the detriment of his other relationships – just like some pet owners.
As for the fish, which it’s OK to eat because they don’t have any feelings? Well, we’re straining the metaphor here, but that could be read as the way Bruce legitimises the beatings he dishes out on a nightly basis by othering the criminals he hunts who he claims “don’t have any feelings”. Too much? Maybe?
The Batman is in theatres now.