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Entertainment

Filmmakers bring ‘80 years of Batman’ to new version of Caped Crusader

Leah Salterio - The Philippine Star
Filmmakers bring â80 years of Batmanâ to new version of Caped Crusader
Robert Pattinson takes on the title role in the latest iteration of The Batman.
STAR / File

Eighty years ofBatman are what producer Dylan Clark and writer-director Matt Reeves brought to the latest iteration of The Caped Crusader in The Batman, this time with Robert Pattinson in the title role.

“This is 80 years of Batman,” stressed Dylan. “Our ambition had to be great. A lot of weight comes with that. Matt took it very seriously as did I. Putting the team and the pieces together took a lot of effort. The actors that got brought into this process, they had to carry that weight.

“They had to do it during the time of the long movie shoot. We also had the challenges of the pandemic. These partners of ours, these great actors, they all signed up and they all showed up and they committed every ounce of their artistry and talent to Matt’s script in this movie. As a producer, it has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life.”

To create the new world of The Batman, Matt, not surprisingly, took inspiration from ‘70s movies and Batman comics. “On the comics front, I did a deep dive and read so many comics,” Matt disclosed. “There was something in the tone of that. It was grounded in a way. It also felt cinematic in a way. It reminded me of an American ‘70s movie.

“There was a scene where Batman had to adapt another persona, Bruce had to adapt another persona because he’s so famous. He cannot walk around. As Bruce, he puts a scar on and this kind of a bomber jacket on, like Bruce should look like he just won the Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver character of Robert de Niro) look-alike contest. So, there was something in that idea.”

Batman’s Ego by Darwyn Cooke, was another important inspiration for Matt. “It (Ego) was really dealing with the psychology of being Batman. The idea of the beast within him and him caught up in eternal struggle, which I thought was really captivating and informative.”

The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale was “super important,” as well, for the filmmaker. “The idea paved for a serial killer who did a series of crimes and the idea of Batman getting caught up as the world’s greatest detective,” Matt informed. “Drawing from those in the comic book front was really important.”

Meanwhile, as far as the films that inspired The Batman are concerned, Matt, who also wrote the script with Peter Craig, named memorable ‘70s titles. “To me there’s a way Gordon and Batman are like (journalists) Woodward and Bernstein, with all the corruption and how high does it go,” he compared. “It was kind of like All the President’s Men (1976). There’s a bit of The French Connection (1971) and there’s a bit of Taxi Driver (1976).

“It’s a neo-noir, like Alan Pakula’s Klute (1971), the relationship between John Klute and Bree Daniels very much forms the relationship between Batman and Selina. There were a lot of ‘70s movies that really inspired me in the first place.”

Dylan and Matt have been working together as producing partners for quite some time now, but The Batman seems like the perfect project for them to work on together.

“Matt is also the producer on all these things because he pours himself into every aspect of the filmmaking and it comes from the script,” Dylan pointed out.

Matt is an “incredible” director and writer. “He spends a lot of time working things out because he knows that once you get on to that set, especially in a big movie like this, that’s made for big screen entertainment, so much can happen on that day. But Matt is the most thorough and dived so deeply into the story and the characters that he likes to work out on all of these things,” shared Dylan.

The challenges in this pandemic understandably took a major consideration in the shoot. There were two delays that happened and the original June 2021 release date had to be moved. Yet the production did not scrimp on its US$ 150 million budget.

Dylan was the person who hired Matt to work at the helm of the science-fiction action film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014). “He is my good friend and most trusted ally and incredible partner,” says Matt. “The Batman is the first time that I have produced with him, but he has produced all of the movies that we’ve done since Apes.”

As far as Matt’s creative process was concerned in filming The Batman, he didn’t adapt any real order. It was more the idea that led to the visuals. “I feel like the creative process for me, at least, is like the blank page is like being in the dark room and your hands and knees reach out for something that feels familiar,” Matt offered.

“I knew that I wanted to take this iteration of a younger Batman who was early in his art that there was room for growth, an awakening and put him at the center of this mystery that would pull us into the path of all these characters.”

“The opening shot of the movie is something that I just saw when I started trying to think about it like The Riddler. When I go into the movie, I love the idea of putting the audience in this emphatic relationship of the characters, like the audience isn’t, so they can experience this kind of immersion into somebody else’s perspective.

“I wanted to start the movie with a giant title, ‘The Batman’ and hear his breathing and feel like you’re seeing something from someone’s point of view. Does that mean we’re seeing from The Batman’s point of view? You’re not. You’re seeing it from The Riddler’s.

“But then elsewhere, you’re seeing from The Drifter, from Batman, from Bruce. Is this The Riddler? You got this sort of undercurrent where you’re wondering. Wait a minute. There’s some dialogue that these characters are in. In that sense, it was more the idea that led to the visuals.”

The sound and the music are both totally critical for The Batman. Matt used the same sound designers since he megged the monster film, Cloverfield (2008). “The whole idea was to put the audience, as much as possible, in the point of view of the characters and specifically in the point of view of Batman. The sound is one of the tools to do that. Creating that immersive, subjective experience”

The music by Michael Giacchino, is “incredibly emotional,” as stressed by Matt. “Talk about the emotional landscape of this movie. There’s a kind of obsessive drive of Batman that is his theme, kind of muscular.

“Bruce’s theme is very melancholy, the way that has happened to him when you don’t want anyone to recognize you. Selina’s theme has the kind of yearning and noir quality which is so great. The Ave Maria was sort of twisted into this thing that comes for the use of The Riddler. Michael’s score is extraordinary.”

The stellar cast who are all acting in The Batman franchise for the first-time are Paul Dano as The Riddler/serial killer Edward Nashton, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman/Selina, John Turturro as Gotham’s crime lord Carmine Falcone and Jeffrey Wright, the first actor of color to portray Lieutenant James Gordon. Colin Farrell plays The Penguin/Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot. The Batman starts its regular run on March 2 in local theaters.

DYLAN CLARK

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