Robert Pattinson is donning the cape and cowl in 2022’s The Batman, but his first experience as the hero was with an earlier version of the iconic costume. During DC’s 2021 FanDome event for the movie’s new trailer, director Matt Reeves revealed that Pattinson auditioned in the Val Kilmer Batsuit — and it nearly scared him away from the role.
“When Rob and I first got together we had all these conversations and just by virtue of what it is (it’s Batman), the studio was like, ‘well we always do a screentest.’ [Rob] was wearing, I believe, Val Kilmer’s Batsuit. Which by the way, the moment you put it on was kind of a crazy moment.”
Pattinson explained that, between the nerves of suiting up as Batman, a personal dream, and the costume’s two-inch thick rubber, he found moving in the suit to be almost impossible. Two takes in the suit apparently left Pattinson covered in sweat. Despite the challenges, Reeves said that when Pattinson took the cowl off and just had on the heavy black eye makeup, everything for the character came together.
“If you think of Bruce Wayne as a recluse rock star in a decaying mansion, there’s a part of me that so saw [Pattinson]. And I had no idea you’d be interested in playing the role at all,” Reeves said. “For me [Pattinson was] always that version of what I saw in the page. And that was about creating a new version of Bruce.”
As it turns out, Pattinson had long been fascinated by the character and brought many of his own ideas on the Bruce Wayne/Batman relationship to the film.
“The delineation over when he’s Batman and when he’s Bruce, in other versions, he really knows what he’s doing when he puts on the cowl,” said Pattinson, describing previous versions of Bruce Wayne. But in his version of the character, “he’s a bit out of control. He hasn’t really defined what Batman is. He puts it on every night. He isn’t sleeping. He’s becoming this sort of odd creature.”
According to Reeves and Pattinson, this new version of Batman and Bruce Wayne takes inspiration from Frank Millar’s Batman: Year One story, and isn’t exactly an origin for the character, but does tell the story of his early years of crime fighting. Pattinson said that his Bruce is still young full of anger.
“Right from the beginning there’s a desperation to it. He’s really working lut this rage and all the fights seem very personal,” Pattinson said in a brief behind-the-scenes video. “He wants to inflict his kind of justice and he’s just compelled to do it. There is no other option.”