Now as you can imagine when the news that Twilight’s alum Robert Pattinson would give up his vampiric role in exchange for even pointier cowls, the internet was alight as to whether Pattinson was the right choice to take on the mantle of the Bat. It’s worth noting, as annoying as fans can get, this deliberation happens every time a new actor takes on the role of the Dark Knight. Every. Time. Some are founded. Other critiques are marred by a bad movie experience or an actor being pigeon-holed due to a career of consistently pedestrian or type-cast-esque roles. Now only time will tell whether or not Robert Pattinson is the man for the suit, though it is promising he finds the suit wholly ‘transformative’.
The red flags – or maybe we could be less melodramatic and say amber rags – comes into play for many when Pattinson speaks on his role or his interpretation of the Dark Knight or just The Batman in general. Now the question is simple – is it call for concern. Not to say our faith in a consistent DC movie is high. Plus one can not help but think DC fans, like myself, are holding out all hope for a winning streak from Warner Bros. Pictures-produced DC Comics movies.
A lot of the skepticism as well lands at the feet of film creatives who still see comics as inherently childish. The need of Todd Phillips to distance the Joker from the comics with the phrase “realistic lens’ being spouted off by cast and crew like cultish anti-comic book film mantra. And then there is also the ignoring of source material altogether. This is possibly where a lot of people are concerned about Pattinson’s take on Batman. But should fans care? Is there even really a problem with what he said – that Batman is NOT a hero?
To quote Robert Pattinson:
Batman’s not a hero, though. He’s a complicated character. I don’t think I could ever play a real hero – there’s always got to be something a little bit wrong… His morality is a little bit off. He’s not the golden boy, unlike almost every other comic-book character.Robert pattinson , Actor (NYT)
Now, let us talk about what was kinda right and kinda wrong with his statement. Batman IS a hero. A very tragic one. Both in the real and the Shakespearean sense. And a tragic hero is the pinnacle of great character, save for a detrimental flaw. His code is often tested, and the idea of a vigilante going above the law to uphold it comes with the taint of arrogance and entitlement.
So, granted, I do agree with Pattinson when he says Batman and Bruce Wayne is a complicated character. He would have to be to lead a double life. I also understand he is making a comparison betwixt the polished concept of a comic book hero and the non-(anti-) hero. It is the capes and the “I’ll save you!” with arms akimbo and pearly white grins with slick, conked hair and bulging sinews under tights. Versus, well, Batman.
Which leads me to ask what comic book character references is Pattinson going by? Marvel movies? As vanilla as some characters get, Marvel Studios does give inklings of striated character. Or is the references coming from Comic books themselves? Which ones? X-Men, Watchmen, The Walking Dead are but a few filled to the brim with ‘heroes’ who were violent and flawed and complex. Or is this a “society’s stereotypical perception of comic books” thing? Ultimately, when Pattinson says “almost every other comic-book character” he’s seen is a “golden boy”, it speaks to a very limited scope on the multi-layered richness of comic book narratives and characters across the board.
Robert Pattinson obviously is an actor. Character is his business. So his ability to finesse a unique characterisation of a Dark Knight would be up his crime alley, indubitably.
Then came Robert Pattinson speaking on his inspiration for Batman’s voice. Which made us think what Kevin Conroy would say. As it often goes, Pattinson is on a film-run to get himself close to an Oscar. So apart from The Batman, he is starring alongside Willem Dafoe’sThe Lighthouse. Robert Pattinson admitted that his more than mesmerised by his co-star’s performance. Particularly his pipes, a key element that lent itself to Pattinson’s’ afflatus for taking on Batman’s often grovel-toned voice. What Pattinson says about this direction, however, feels, well, on choppy water:
Willem’s voice in this is kind of inspiring for it, to be honest. It is kind of similar, the voice I’m going to do, to his. I think Batman has a kind of piratey voice. I think that will really suit it.robert pattinson, actor (Access)
Operative word “piratey”. Now, I feel this. In the sense of one often says words with thinking to much of meaning or context. Filler. Our language is filled with it. It’s how we give ourselves time to think when talking withough leaving pauses. And what I feel Pattinson came up with was ‘Piratey’. What other word could he have said that could connote “guttural” whilst being relatable to the en masse who would read his Access interview? “Piratey”. However, he would have had to have known the simulacrum he would conjure in our minds when he used that world. And he used it anyway. Without a singular piece of fuck. Which is funny when you think of Popeye-voiced Batman interrogating crime bosses.
Part of me honestly things Pattinson’s vision for his version of the Dark Knight is a work in progress, and these interviews are catching him somewhat off-guard during different points of his gestation of the task at hand. At times it may have been incidents where better descriptive word eluded in mid-stride during interviews and the next best available descriptor was of or to do with Pirates. And maybe he is also in the process of taking in the world of comics through a broader, more truthful lens that has long been obscured by society.
In any case, Pattinson’s words do not entirely raise cause for concern. However, he will need to tie down what exactly he wants to bring to the table to solidify his spot amongst the other Batmen that have graced our screens. Keeping in line with tradition just enough to be respectful to the source whilst providing something unique and standalone. That is. by far. not an easy feat.
Nevertheless, matey, no amount of scurvy talk will help him with DC’s current Vitamin C deficiency – and that is one of Character. And this is what Robert Pattinson will need to fully understand and master through and through, not just on-screen, but also during his press run and synoptical takes on the Dark Knight.