In 2022, The Batman reintroduced the world to a version of its beloved title character unlike any we’d seen before. With Robert Pattinson in the leading role (looking more like a vampire than he did when he actually played a vampire) director Matt Reeves stripped the superhero back down to his basics, telling a noir-inspired detective story influenced by the likes of Se7en.
It was the DCU‘s last unequivocal hit (we’ve had Black Adam, Shazam 2, The Flash, and Blue Beetle since), and Reeves ensured that the focus remained squarely on Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne despite its impressive rogues’ gallery of the best DC villains. Keeping with the theme, when the upcoming DC movie The Batman 2 eventually arrives, the director is keen to repeat his formula and dodge a trap that Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Batman trilogy fell into.
“My goal has always been to do these point-of-view stories that allow the character to always be the emotional center of the story,” said Reeves, speaking with Collider. “Because a lot of times what happens is, after you do the first one, then suddenly other rogues’ gallery characters come in, and they kind of take over.”
The comment serves as an implicit criticism of the two sequels to Nolan’s Batman Begins (The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises) which see Joker and Bane become the stars of the show respectively. The Dark Knight is a Joker movie, and The Dark Knight Rises is a Bane movie. Batman serves as the hero, yes, but the two villainous DC characters truly take all the focus.
Reeves thinks this does a disservice to Bruce Wayne’s own story, and potential, because “Batman takes a backseat sort of character-wise, or emotionally”. His words are illuminating, and reveal more than you might expect about what’s in store for the future in Pattinson’s new movies.
Firstly, one of the ways in which The Batman kept its focus on its central character rather than shifting towards the villains was by having more than one antagonist. The variety of villains faced by Wayne in The Batman means that the focus on the antagonists is split, and shared. Riddler is the main enemy, but he’s not the only enemy.
Contrast that with The Dark Knight: a story about Batman vs Joker exclusively, where the villain ends up being far, far more fascinating than the hero, stealing the spotlight along the way. So, in The Batman 2, while the main antagonist is rumored to be Clayface, Reeves might once again choose to deploy other enemies alongside him to face off against the latest in the list of Batman actors.
The second thing you should expect is for Bruce Wayne to have another very defined arc. The Batman was a story about Wayne embracing his heroism again, and becoming a symbol of justice. The Batman 2 will undoubtedly continue this story, rather than leaving the character’s development as static. How will he adjust to his new status, what challenges will it bring, and what will that mean for Bruce Wayne?
All this boils down to, really, is the idea that Reeves’ Batman movies will keep the spotlight on the titular character. In the past that’s been taken for granted, and while we wouldn’t give up The Dark Knight for the world (it’s truly one of the best movies ever), we’d be happy for the sequel to The Batman to keep its gaze locked firmly on the Caped Crusader.
For more on DC check out our handy explainer on the upcoming reboot beginning with Superman Legacy (which will begin Chapter 1 Gods and Monsters). Or, give yourself a headache by trying to figure out the right way to watch the DC movies in order. There’s truly no franchise quite as chaotic as this one.