A new actor playing Batman may be the most daunting task in Hollywood. Arguably no character attracts more attention, and the franchise’s history of combining blockbuster spectacle with serious acting places pressure on each actor to put their own spin on the DC superhero.
Robert Pattinson was certainly up for the task, as the former “Twilight” star spent a decade honing his acting chops with arthouse films like “Good Time” and “Cosmopolis,” but “The Batman” still posed its own unique challenge.
Pattinson is significantly younger than his predecessor Ben Affleck was when he donned the cape and cowl, so his performance would inevitably differ from Affleck’s grisled take on the character. For their interpretation, Affleck and director Matt Reeves mined both fiction and recent history for examples of men who come into vast wealth at very young ages to craft a blueprint for their version of Bruce Wayne. Two of the biggest influences? Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain and Michael Corleone from “The Godfather.”
“In our first meeting, Matt mentioned Kurt Cobain was one of the linchpins of the character. Just that put something in my head,” Pattinson said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. “There’s something about this kind of self-imposed torment that I always found really interesting and also inheriting a life that you’re not entirely sure you want but also feel like you cannot give up at all. I remember we also talked a lot about Michael Corleone.”
The connection to Al Pacino’s “Godfather” protagonist makes sense, as both characters are brooding heirs to vast fortunes that operate in ethical gray areas while trying to figure out their real identities. Reeves elaborated on Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne, saying “he is a character who essentially is stunted. He’s sort of stuck emotionally at being 10 years old, and that’s exacerbated by the fact that he has this safety net of being incredibly rich. But he chooses to do this very brave, daring, reckless, almost suicidal thing, trying make meaning out of his life by going out and taking the law into his own hands.”
“The Batman” is now playing in theaters.