The Batman arrives in theatres in less than a month, and excitement levels for Matt Reeves’ upcoming superhero reboot are high, to say the least. Whether you’re a hardcore DC Comics fan or a casual moviegoer, there’s a good chance you’re clamouring for every titbit of information about the film you can get your hands on. So, here’s a handy primer rounding up everything you need to know about The Batman, including its plot, characters, major comic book and film influences, and more!
What is The Batman about?
The Batman is set during the second year of Batman’s crime-fighting career.
It pits the Dark Knight against a twisted serial killer, the Riddler, who preys on Gotham City’s wealthy elite. Batman engages the Riddler in a high-stakes battle of wits, racing to decipher his deranged enemy’s deadly puzzles before more innocent lives are lost.
But with each riddle he solves, Batman uncovers more of the corruption that runs rampant throughout Gotham, and soon finds evidence that implicates the family of his own civilian alter-ego, Bruce Wayne, in the city’s history of injustice…
Who are the main characters in The Batman?
Drawing from its source material’s 80+ year history, The Batman boasts a sizeable cast of characters; the key players you need to know are:
- Bruce Wayne/Batman (Robert Pattinson): Orphaned by an act of senseless violence when he was only a child, Bruce Wayne now leads two lives. By day, he’s a reclusive billionaire; at night, he dons the cape and cowl of the fearsome vigilante, Batman. This incarnation of the iconic superhero is still finding his feet as a crime fighter and struggles to control the rage that drives him to seek justice. Reeves cites Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain as a key inspiration for his take on Bruce Wayne, describing the character as “a kind of drug addict. His drug is his addiction to this drive for revenge.”
- Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz): Like Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle leads a double life: as well as holding down a steady job at nightclub, she’s also Gotham’s most accomplished cat burglar. Kyle encounters Batman when their nocturnal activities intersect, and the pair quickly establishes an unlikely partnership – not to mention an undeniable, mutual attraction. Kravitz has explained the Batman/Catwoman dynamic as stemming from their shared drive to protect the defenceless. “She really wants to fight for those who don’t have someone to fight for them. And I think that is where Batman and she connect.”
- Edward Nashton/The Riddler (Paul Dano): As the Riddler, Edward Nashton wages a campaign of terror against Gotham’s elite – murdering the city’s rich and powerful over live video stream, all while sharing clues pointing to the identity of his next victim. The Riddler’s motivation is ostensibly to expose the corruption rooted within Gotham’s institutions, however, his brutal methods imply his true agenda may be far more sinister. Reeves combined the comic book Riddler’s basic modus operandi – taunting Batman and the police with fiendish puzzles – with the similar tactics employed by the real-life Zodiac Killer to create a more grounded version of the flamboyant supervillain.
- James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright): Lieutenant James Gordon is Batman’s trusted ally in the Gotham City Police Department. Wright is the first person of colour to play the role; addressing the minor controversy this caused, he said, “Gordon is many things. He’s relative to Gotham City, to the Gotham City police department, to Batman, to justice and to corruption — and none of those things require that he be white.”
- Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis): Alfred is Bruce Wayne’s butler and surrogate father figure. Unlike most other adaptations, Alfred and Bruce are borderline estranged in The Batman, due in part to Alfred’s growing concerns over the impact of Bruce’s Batman persona on the young billionaire’s state of mind.
- Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot/The Penguin (Colin Farrell): One of several mobsters vying for control of Gotham City’s underworld, Oswald Cobblepot’s distinctive visage has earned him the unwanted nickname, “Penguin”. Cobblepot runs the Iceberg Lounge – a seedy dive bar frequented by Gotham’s criminal element – and takes his orders from crime boss Carmine Falcone.
Do I need to see any other DC movies before The Batman?
No. The Batman is a reboot of the Batman franchise and isn’t connected to either the DC Extended Universe films (like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), or other standalone flicks (like 2019’s Joker).
That said, if you’re interested in getting a feel for the non-superhero movies that influenced Reeves, the co-writer/director lists The French Connection, Chinatown and Taxi Driver as his main cinematic touchstones when developing The Batman.
What comics should I read before seeing The Batman?
Those of you eager to catch up on the comics that inspired The Batman should check out the following titles Reeves has referenced as a direct influence on the new film:
- Batman: Ego: Written and illustrated by the late Darwyn Cooke, 2000’s Batman: Ego sees a guilt-ridden Bruce Wayne confronted by the embodiment of his Batman persona. From here, both sides of our hero embark on an animated philosophical debate – and struggle for control – as they argue the merits of the Dark Knight continuing to wage his unrelenting war on crime.
- Batman: Year One: Easily one of the most influential mainstream comic books of all time, Frank Miller and David David Mazzucchelli’s Batman: Year One is a masterful retelling of Batman’s famous origin story. This 1986 miniseries presented a radically different, more grounded take on the Caped Crusader and his world, and redefined Batman – and, just as importantly, Jim Gordon – forever.
- Batman: The Long Halloween: A belated quasi-sequel to Batman: Year One, this Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale maxiseries sees a relatively inexperienced Batman on the trail of a serial killer who commits murders that coincide with holidays. At the same time, the Dark Knight also has to deal with the changing face of crime in Gotham, as the city’s mobsters are slowly pushed out by a new breed of supervillains like the Joker, Two-Face and Catwoman.
- Batman: Zero Year: Yet another revamp of Batman’s origin story, Batman: Zero Year depicts the showdown between a rookie Dark Knight and the newly-emerged Riddler, with the fate of Gotham City hanging in the balance. This 12-issue story arc by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo introduces several elements to the Batman canon – including the Riddler’s anti-elite motivations, and the potentially dubious legacy of the Wayne family – that feature prominently in The Batman reboot.
When does The Batman come out?
The Batman is set for release in theatres on 4 March 2022 in the US, the UK, and other international markets. The film will be available to stream on HBO Max 45 days later, on 19 April 2022.
Tickets go on sale in the US on 10 February 2022; the ticket sale date in other markets is yet to be confirmed (but it’s likely to be on or shortly after the US date).