Robert Pattinson is the latest Caped Crusader to don the cowl, but what type of Batman is he going to be?
In a new interview,with GQ, Pattison talked about the challenges and opportunities of stepping into a legacy role for Matt Reeves’ The Batman, how he views previous Batman performances, and why he’s excited to discover his own. He was asked why he agreed to take on an “archetype” role like Bruce Wayne, aka Batman.
After all, Pattison got started playing Edward Cullen on Twilight, who fit snug into the mould of the modern sexy vampire, and he’s spent the past several years taking on a number of projects that challenge any preconceptions about him as an actor. To go from The Lighthouse and Tenet to The Batman feels like a surprising choice.
This is a well-established character with a built-in audience that isn’t shy about expressing its standards (let’s not forget the backlash after Ben Affleck was cast, which echoed what we’re still seeing with Pattison). You’d think he’d want to steer clear of something like that. For Pattinson, he said the challenge of stepping into what might be one of the biggest legacy roles in modern fiction was actually really motivating.
“It’s a legacy part, right? I like that. There’s so few things in life where people passionately care about it before it’s even happened. You can almost feel that pushback of anticipation, and so it kind of energizes you a little bit. It’s different from when you’re doing a part and there’s a possibility that no one will even see it,” Pattinson told GQ. “It makes you a little kind of spicy.”
But it’s not just about the fanbase. There’s the added challenge of coming into a role that’s already been portrayed by several actors over the decades, to varying degrees of success. It sometimes feels like everyone has already chosen their favourite Batman by now. How does an actor—especially one who values uniqueness like Pattinson—carve their own niche when faced with a wall of standards? Pattinson said that’s kind of why he took on the project. He wanted to answer that question for himself.
“I was watching the making of Batman & Robin the other day. And even then, George Clooney was saying that he was worried about the fact that it’s sort of been done, that a lot of the ground you should cover with the character has been already covered. And that’s in ’96, ’97? And then there’s Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck’s one,” he said. “It’s fun when more and more ground has been covered. Like, where is the gap? You’ve seen this sort of lighter version, you’ve seen a kind of jaded version, a kind of more animalistic version. And the puzzle of it becomes quite satisfying, to think: Where’s my opening?”
There is one more challenge, however, and that’s covid-19. The Batman’s production has shut down for the time being, leaving Pattinson stuck in his temporary London apartment—with his special Batman meal plan being delivered on a regular basis. He can’t work out with his trainer either, but he doesn’t mind all that much. He said he’s actively avoiding his workouts during the pandemic, saying there’s too high a standard placed on physical perfection with onscreen comic book characters.
“I think if you’re working out all the time, you’re part of the problem,” he said, referencing other actors. “You set a precedent. No one was doing this in the ‘70s. Even James Dean—he wasn’t exactly ripped.”
The Batman is set to come out on October 1, 2021.