The Batman: release date, cast, plot, and more explained

When it comes to big-screen reboots, not even Spider-Man can compete with the Caped Crusader. The Batman sees Twilight and Tenet star Robert Pattinson inheriting a role previously played by Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck, but despite the familiarity of the character, this is undoubtedly one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of 2022.

That’s because the Batman is possibly the most versatile superhero of them all, a character capable of shifting between arch humor and dark, gritty brutality in his different incarnations. In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves’ take on Gotham City, Bruce Wayne will be playing detective in a noir-infused movie that seems to have as much in common with Seven as it does with Batman v Superman.

So with less than three months to go before Pattinson puts the keys in the Batmobile’s ignition, here’s everything currently worth knowing about The Batman.

Release date: The Batman will swoop into theaters on March 4, 2022.

Cast: Robert Pattinson pulls on the most famous cowl in the movies, backed up by an impressive supporting cast including Zoë Kravitz, Andy Serkis, Paul Dano, Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Wright and John Turturro.

Story: Fittingly for a story concerning the World’s Greatest Detective, there’s plenty of mystery surrounding The Batman story. It’s clear from the trailers, however, that The Riddler’s murderous plans for Gotham City will cause major headaches for a young Caped Crusader – and that Catwoman and the Penguin will also be somehow involved.

The Batman release date

The Batman release date: March 2022

The Batman release date is currently set for March 4, 2022, which is significantly later than the June 25, 2021 slot Warner Bros had originally planned. 

When coronavirus-related lockdowns halted shooting in March 2020, the Batman release date was pushed back to October 1, 2021, but the writing was on the wall as soon as a wider Warner Bros reshuffle pushed Dune’s release date into that month. When that happened, the Caped Crusader movie found itself in its current March 2022 berth.

While we could do without the wait, the good news is that principal photography on the movie ended in March 2021, with director Matt Reeves confirming as much on Twitter:

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Although reshoots for the movie took place in Glasgow, Scotland, in June 2021, there’s no reason to believe that The Batman release date will be pushed back again. Additional photography is now built into the schedules of most major blockbusters, so shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

The Batman trailers

The Batman trailers: see Pattinson’s Dark Knight in action

The first trailer for The Batman debuted at the virtual DC FanDome event in August 2020, and gave us a dark, moody look at Matt Reeves’ take on the Caped Crusader. 

It shows Pattinson as a decidedly emo Bat, James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) visiting a crime scene, and our first glimpses of The Riddler (Paul Dano), Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin (an almost unrecognizable Colin Farrell), and Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) in action. Soundtracked by the mournful vocals of Nirvana’s ‘Something in the Way’, The Batman’s tone echoes that of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but looks rather promising.

A fun, interactive part of the trailer tells non-Bat-fans everything they need to know about The Riddler too. The crime genius left a cryptic message on a card for Batman with the written head-scratcher: “What does a liar do when he’s dead?” With it came a series of symbols that match the solution of the riddle, and it was quickly solved on Twitter. It was still a nice touch, and one that chimes with Reeves’ desire to get Bats back to more detective work. Lies and lying seem to be an important theme, too, as we see one of Riddler’s victims strapped in duct tape with ‘No More Lies’ written on it.

A second, slightly longer The Batman trailer released at the 2021 edition of DC Fandome in October teased a little more of Reeves’ dark vision of Gotham City:

It features Dano’s Edward Nashton, aka The Riddler, getting himself arrested by Gotham PD (showing off his question mark-shaped latte art in the process), before taunting the Dark Knight from his prison cell. We also get the prerequisite scenes of Batman/Bruce Wayne embracing the darkness within, and an introduction to Andy Serkis’s Alfred Pennyworth, giving his boss a warning about the dangerous path he’s on. 

And, of course, there’s plenty of screentime for supporting stars Selina Kyle, Oswald Cobblepot and – perhaps most importantly – the Batmobile.

To add to the intrigue, the new Japanese The Batman trailer below adds some additional footage to the Gotham City mix:

The Batman cast

The Batman cast: Robert Pattinson wears the famous cowl

Here’s a quick list of the impressive ensemble cast that’s been confirmed for The Batman so far:

  • Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman
  • Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth
  • Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman
  • Paul Dano as the Riddler/Edward Nashton
  • Colin Farrell as Oswald ‘Oz’ Cobblepot/The Penguin
  • Jeffrey Wright as Jim Gordon
  • John Turturro as Carmine Falcone
  • Peter Sarsgaard as DA Gil Colson
  • Jayme Lawson as Bella Reál
  • Barry Keoghan as Stanley Merkel
  • Rupert Penry-Jones as Mayor Don Mitchell
  • Alex Ferns as Police Commissioner Pete Savage

As previously mentioned, Robert Pattinson will star as Bruce Wayne/Batman, with Andy Serkis serving as his faithful butler Alfred. The movie’s confirmed rogues’ gallery of villains features The Riddler (Paul Dano) and The Penguin (Colin Farrell) – though crime lord Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) and Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) don’t traditionally play on the side of the angels, either. 

Representing the forces of law and order are Jeffrey Wright as Jim Gordon, Peter Sarsgaard as Gotham DA Gil Colson, and former EastEnder Alex Ferns as Police Commissioner Pete Savage. (Given Gordon’s usual career trajectory in the comics, we don’t expect Savage to stick around too long…)

Former Spooks star Rupert Penry-Jones has confirmed he’ll be playing Gotham City’s mayor, Don Mitchell, while newcomer Jayme Lawson takes on the role of mayoral candidate Bella Reál. Gil Perez-Abraham will play an as-yet undisclosed role.

Twin actors Max and Charlie Carver (Teen Wolf) will also appear in The Batman cast. There are numerous pairs of DC characters the actors could be playing: Tweedledee and Tweedledum are the most recognizable ‘twin’ characters from Batman lore, but there’s no official announcement on this front yet.

Perhaps the most intriguing name on The Batman cast list, however, is Eternals star Barry Keoghan, whose Stanley Merkel character is widely rumored to have a legendary Gotham City villain in his future. For spoilers’ sake we’ll keep quiet for now, but if you want to know more, check out The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision newsletter.

The Batman’s Batmobile

The Batman’s Batmobile has been revealed

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The Batman’s Batmobile was revealed early by Reeves, both to create buzz for the movie and likely to stop paparazzi photos of the car from leaking as filming continues. It looks like a sports car that’s been fitted with a rocket engine, making it a wild contrast to recent Batmobiles, which were more tank-like in the Nolan and Snyder movies. 

The Batman’s Batsuit

The Batman’s Batsuit features a gun welded into the Bat symbol

The Batsuit was revealed by Reeves through a brief bit of moody test footage, with noir-ish music provided by the movie’s composer, Michael Giacchino. The main detail to take away from this video is the Bat symbol on Pattinson’s chest – it’s a handgun that’s been sliced in half and turned into the famous logo. 

Speculation – and common sense – points to this gun being the one used by Joe Chill to kill the Waynes in most well-known origin story in comics. If that’s true, it’s pretty goth – and very Batman. 

The Batman story

The Batman story: here’s what we know

the batman story

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Batman is set during the second year of Bruce Wayne’s Caped Crusader’s career, according to a story on The Wrap. That should bypass the need to see another Batman origin movie, which Christopher Nolan’s films covered definitively in Batman Begins.

Indeed, the presence of Catwoman, Penguin and the Riddler in this film suggests we’re already fairly deep into DC Comics lore, with Paul Dano’s Riddler seemingly the main antagonist making life difficult for Wayne and his shadowy alter-ego.

Expect this to be a rare Batman movie that features some actual detective work, too – entirely appropriate, considering that the Dark Knight is often described as the World’s Greatest Detective. 

“It’s very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale,” Reeves told The Hollywood Reporter, explaining that he’s going for a ‘thrilling’ but ’emotional’ movie. 

“It’s more Batman in his detective mode than we’ve seen in the films. The comics have a history of that. He’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, and that’s not necessarily been a part of what the movies have been. I’d love this to be one where when we go on that journey of tracking down the criminals and trying to solve a crime, it’s going to allow his character to have an arc so that he can go through a transformation.”

That does sound very different to past Batman movies, and you get a real sense of the movie’s noir flavor in the trailers.

The Batman: what happened to Ben Affleck’s version?

The Batman has had a long road to production. Back in summer 2015, Ben Affleck was slated to co-write and direct a movie with that title, reprising his role as the Caped Crusader from Batman Vs Superman. The movie was to feature Deathstroke as the villain, with Affleck even releasing the test footage above on Twitter.  

Deathstroke briefly pops up in both the theatrical and Snyder Cuts of Justice League, played by Joe Manganiello as he is in the footage above. Affleck dropped out of directing The Batman in January 2017, and finally ended his involvement with the movie officially in early 2019. 

Affleck ultimately left the movie due to his struggles with alcohol. “I showed somebody ‘The Batman’ script,” Affleck told the NY Times [paywall]. “They said, ‘I think the script is good. I also think you’ll drink yourself to death if you go through what you just went through again.'” The piece also mentions that the troubled Justice League shoot had “sapped his interest” in the Batman role, which is fair enough.

While Affleck isn’t getting a standalone Batman film, he will reprise his role in Warner’s upcoming Flash movie – alongside previous Caped Crusader Michael Keaton – according to Deadline. That may be the last time we see Affleck in the famous cape and cowl too, with Warner confirming that they won’t be moving forward with Zack Snyder’s planned Justice League sequels – as Variety reports, despite the Snyder Cut’s relative success since its March 18 release.

Does the world need another Batman movie?

the batman trailer

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

This new version focuses on Batman as a detective in his younger days, which is a big shift from Affleck’s older version of the character. The choice of Catwoman and Penguin as villains immediately conjures up thoughts of 1992’s Batman Returns – Jim Carrey played The Riddler in Batman Forever three years later – but expect The Batman to have its own specific tone. 

With so many versions of Batman on-screen over the past three decades, it makes sense that Reeves would want to differentiate his adaptation from past efforts. The world probably doesn’t need another Batman movie – but a noir-infused film with a cast this good will firmly draw a line under the Justice League version of the character, which can’t hurt. 

The Batman sequel and spin-offs

The Batman sequel: TV spin-offs are in development

It’s too early to tell if The Batman will get any follow-up movies. Given the popularity of the character, however, we certainly think it will. There will be other stories for Reeves to tell – should he wish to return, that is – and there’s every chance that the director has laid the groundwork for future instalments in this movie.

Jeffrey Wright has given the biggest hint about potential sequels though. After filming wrapped on March 13, the actor tweeted that he was done with Jim Gordon… for now. That could be taken to mean that there may be possible reshoots in the future, depending on how the film is edited, but it could also hint at a sequel or two down the line.

You can check out Wright’s tweet below:

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But, just as Star Wars and Marvel Star Wars have expanded their universes via Disney Plus TV shows, it looks like DC is taking the universe of The Batman to the small screen via HBO Max.

According to Variety, Warner Bros has lined up Giri/Haji and Encounter writer Joe Barton to serve as showrunner on a Gotham PD TV show that will reportedly “build on the film’s examination of the anatomy of corruption in Gotham City”.

And there have also been reports that another spin-off show will focus on the rise of Oswald Cobblepot – aka the Penguin – through Gotham’s criminal underworld. The Hollywood Reporter  emphasizes, however, that Colin Farrell’s involvement in the show is yet to be confirmed.

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