An illustration of various incarnations of Batman over the years
Illustration by Skylar Owenby, Western Carolina University
Screens /// Thoughts x
An illustration of various incarnations of Batman over the years
Illustration by Skylar Owenby, Western Carolina University

The next iteration of Batman is about to hit theaters, but first, let’s take a look at why so many fans love the caped crusader.

Another iteration of Batman will grace the screen come March 4, this time with the role played by fan-favorite Robert Pattinson. “The Batman” has been long-awaited, and like many upcoming films, suffered delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the challenges COVID-19 presented for filming and Pattinson’s bout with the illness at one point during filming, many speculate the release will be more than worth the wait. Released well over a year ago, the first trailer in August 2020 already boasted a great new chapter in Bruce Wayne’s story, even though the project was still mid-production. Soon, fans will be able to stop holding their collective breath, finally able to witness the newest Batman and see if it lives up to its predecessors.

A notable thing about the upcoming film, which is intended to be the start of a new trilogy, is that it starts with Bruce Wayne already answering the call of the bat signal, with experience fighting enemies and crime already under his belt. Fans will finally be spared from seeing the slaughter of Thomas and Martha Wayne, and in bypassing the event that motivated Wayne to don the bat costume, audiences can enjoy more adventure and be thrust into the excitement and thrills right away.

One of many trailers promises the Riddler as Pattinson’s adversary, through a coffee cup bearing his question mark calling card as well as a chilling voice-over taunting Batman with a riddle. The trailer purposely avoids showing the Riddler’s face, leaving it a mystery not only for Batman but for audiences as well.

Haunting notes are featured in other trailers, with an unsettling scrawl that reads “for the Batman,” thus the title of the film. With this element of mystery, it seems that this new storyline will attempt to encompass a distinct period of the Detective Comics, which started in 1937 and featured Batman as the main sleuth for a majority of its issues.

With a new sleuthing angle, Pattinson also promises a fresh take on Bruce Wayne compared to the ones we’ve already seen. This new Wayne feels less refined than the confident socialite we saw in Christian Bale’s run as the character; this new Wayne doesn’t seem to be one to throw ridiculous parties or to drink his nights away. In fact, very little is shown about him except that he keeps entirely to himself, Batman or not. Even with Edward Nigma as his prime enemy, one wonders who the real enigma is: Batman or the Riddler.

While the trailers and Pattinson’s performance promise something different, it’s safe to assume that the newest film will share a lot with the classic portrayals of Batman. Wayne seemingly remains a loner, dressed in black, and audiences can hear Pattinson pay homage to the character’s classic deep voice. Catwoman, played by Zoë Kravitz, slinks onto the screen, reminding audiences of the “will they, won’t they” relationship arc between the two characters.

Additionally, it appears that Batman continues to be a vigilante that is simultaneously loved and hated in Gotham — some people respect him, and others, like the Riddler, wonder why he “lies” about his identity and hides in the shadows. If he’s proud of what he’s doing, why wouldn’t he want to show himself?

At this point in time, it’s worth wondering why. With so many different storylines recreated over the years, the bat mask switching from actor to actor, and villains and their dastardly plots being redone again and again, why do we keep revisiting Gotham? What is it about Bruce Wayne and his story that attracts viewers? Similar to many other superheroes, Batman has an abundance of enemies, so the stories can always change, leaving room for a new crooked villain or a new love interest; but for some reason, we’re drawn repeatedly to seeing Batman’s story above everyone else’s.

While putting Batman in a detective seat offers a fresh new angle, there are other storylines with other superheroes that would not only be just as exciting but would also present the possibility for something completely new and groundbreaking — and even inclusive, in some cases.

There are quite a few reasons for this, one of those being that Bruce Wayne’s story is the most realistic out of most superhero stories. It’s more believable purely because Wayne is human. No spider bite, no lab experiment gone wrong and no Kryptonian blood giving him the superhero powers he needs to fight crime, save innocents and just overall woo the city. All Batman really has is his strength and his expensive gadgets, funded by the money from his parents’ deaths. Although being a billionaire is something most will not be able to relate to, Bruce Wayne’s status as an everyday guy trying to find his way in the world is something that has and will continue to resonate with audiences.

While Wayne’s riches may seem unrelatable, there are other pieces of his story that can be seen in everyday life. In a perfect world, everyone would have the means or ability to acquire Bruce Wayne’s physique; everyone who is able-bodied could do the hard work necessary if they really wanted to. Does that mean it’s easy or a possibility for absolutely everyone? No. But the thought of it remains comforting because in some cases, it could be possible. Seeing Batman better himself can serve as inspiration to start bettering ourselves.

Outside of Batman’s lack of superpowers, he also makes audiences feel better because he’s human — not a god or an alien or a titan like other heroes — and thus he is inherently flawed. Audiences see that in his interactions throughout the films, especially when it comes to women or his sidekick, Robin. Wayne just cannot handle human interaction, which may make people feel better because here, he’s a realistic human character.

Everyone on the planet has flaws and it is healthy to see them depicted on the screen once in a while, especially in a character who is meant to represent a hero that other people look up to and admire. People can relate to Batman’s struggle because he, like all of us, is uniquely human. That also makes it easy for us to cheer him on for kicking ass because he reminds us of ourselves and what we could be.

Most importantly, however, Batman is and always has been familiar. People have grown up with Batman for generations, and it can be exciting to relive that nostalgia with every new film that appears on the screen. From the first comic issue released in March of 1939 to the countless TV shows and cartoons dedicated to the hero and his foes and all the films that have followed, Bruce Wayne is a comfort. Batman serves as a reminder that while a lot of the outside world has changed, the bat hasn’t. There will always be heroes, and in a time and age when we need to remember that, we can rest assured that Batman will answer the call.

Writer Profile

Aly Walters

Michigan State University
English With a Creative Writing Concentration

I am a senior at Michigan State University who also works at MSU’s Writing Center. In my free time, I love working on my latest writing projects!

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