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The Batman: 11 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Matt Reeves' DC Movie

Batman looks over Gotham City in The Batman
(Image credit: Warner Bros,)

At risk of sounding like a victim of recency bias, I am actually being honest when I say that, out of all the live-action Batman movies (and even including the animated ones), The Batman is my all-time favorite so far, (although not everyone agrees with my take on it being one of the best Batman movies). Nevertheless, Matt Reeves’ take on the DC superhero is not just an achievement in finally bringing his detective persona to the big screen, but an achievement in aesthetics with its stunning noir-inspired production design and cinematography, performances by Robert Pattinson and the rest of the star-studded The Batman cast, and wall-to-wall thrills on both a visual and emotional level.

If you are a Batfan like me who is still in awe of the talent on display in one of the best superhero movies in recent memory and want to know more about how they pulled it all off, read on. The following are a few behind-the-scenes facts about the The Batman that we found by channeling our own inner detectives, starting with a glimpse at the movie that almost was.

Ben Affleck as Batman in Suicide Squad

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Matt Reeves Turned Down The Offer To Direct A Ben Affleck-Led Batman Movie

As many DC fans will recall, The Batman was initially proposed as a DCEU-canon solo film starring Ben Affleck. The Academy Award-winning actor and filmmaker was also slated to write and direct the highly-anticipated flick until he decided to step away from the director’s chair. 

Warner Bros. then sought War for the Planet of the Apes helmer Matt Reeves, who revealed to Esquire that the script they showed him, while entertaining, did not match what he wished for his own take on the Dark Knight. However, once Affleck decided to hang up the cowl altogether, it opened up an opportunity for Reeves to bring his vision to life and he started working on a whole new script with some surprising methods of motivation.

The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Listening To Nirvana Had A Major Impact On Matt Reeves’ The Batman Script 

Fans were stunned by how well the 1991 Nirvana track “Something in the Way” fit in the trailer for The Batman and in the finished film itself (twice). Little did they realize just how important their late frontman, Kurt Cobain, and the grunge gods' rally was to Matt Reeves’ process when developing his interpretation of Bruce Wayne. The filmmaker explained it to Empire Magazine with the following quote:

When I write, I listen to music, and as I was writing the first act, I put on Nirvana’s ‘Something In The Way.’ … That’s when it came to me that, rather than make Bruce Wayne the playboy version we’ve seen before, there’s another version who had gone through a great tragedy and become a recluse. So, I started making this connection to Gus Van Sant’s Last Days, and the idea of this fictionalized version of Kurt Cobain being in this kind of decaying manor.

The character whom Robert Pattinson went on to play in The Batman was certainly not what a lot of fans were expecting, but there were also many who loved to see an “emo Bruce Wayne” that they could relate to.

Val Kilmer in batsuit in Batman Forever

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Robert Pattinson Wore Val Kilmer’s Batman Forever Suit For His Screen Test

While the suit is not what makes a person Batman, a crucial element of being one of the best to play Batman is how you look in the suit. Thus, Robert Pattinson auditioned for the role in full costume. However, it was not the grungy, bulletproof get-up he wears in The Batman

For his screen test, Pattinson donned the same cape and cowl that was famously worn by Val Kilmer in director Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever from 1995. Apparently, according to Esquire, using the outfit for screen tests is tradition, as Cillian Murphy tried on the same suit when he was considered to play the Dark Knight in Batman Begins before he was cast as Jonathan “Scarecrow” Crane.

Zoë Kravitz in The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Zoë Kravitz Had Auditioned For An Earlier Batman Movie

Speaking of Batman movie auditions, Zoë Kravitz’s history playing Selina Kyle actually predates The Batman as she provided the voice of Catwoman for a brief appearance in The LEGO Batman Movie in 2017. However, her connection to the Batman movies goes back even further than that. 

She once auditioned for a small, unspecified role in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, but was told by an unknown person from the studio that they were not going “urban” for that part. When she first told this story to Nylon in 2015, it was widely assumed that Kravitz was told she was “too urban” to play the iteration of Catwoman that would later go to Anne Hathaway, until she clarified that that was not the case in 2022.

Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman in The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Batman’s Stunt Coordinator Used To Teach Zoë Kravitz Self-Defense

Reprising Catwoman in a live-action setting was not the only moment of déjà vu that Zoë Kravitz experienced on the set of the The Batman. In a featurette included on the film’s Blu-ray release called Becoming Catwoman, supervising stunt coordinator Robert Alonzo recalls how he knew the actor from years earlier when he taught her martial arts. 

The training that Kravitz’s went trough to kick ass as Selina Kyle was, essentially, a continuation of her lessons with Alonzo. The actor also mentions in the mini-doc how some of the fight choreography was conducted with social distancing through pre-recorded videos in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic - an event that had a profound impact on the production and, especially, on its leading man.

Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne in The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Batman Faced A Setback When Robert Pattinson Tested Positive For Covid-19 

Like many other productions at the time, The Batman was forced to shut down in March 2020 - just two months after filming began - in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak. It would resume production about five months later, only to hit pause again just days later after Deadline reported that someone on the set had tested positive for the virus.

According to Vanity Fair, the person who caught Covid-19 just happened to be most important person involved with The Batman: the Batman himself, Robert Pattinson. That would not be the last time that the shoot was faced with a pandemic-related setback, as The Sun reported in February 2021 that Pattinson’s stunt double had tested positive, forcing him and his team to temporarily isolate themselves from the set.

Batman and the Batmobile in The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Four Batmobiles Were Built For The Penguin Chase Scene

Why don’t we change the subject to something fun? Such as, that epic car chase between Colin Farrell’s Penguin and Batman in movie prop on wheels, the Batmobile - the design of which was first revealed in a tweet by Matt Reeves in March 2020. As we learned from another doc on The Batman Blu-ray about the making of the film’s suped-up muscle car, you are actually seeing more than one Batmobile in motion in the enthralling sequence. 

The construction department built four complete Batmobiles in total for a different purpose each, which designer Joseph Huira describes in the featurette. There was a “ram car” made to “destroy stuff,” a more lightweight vehicle for jumping stunts, another that could be controlled by a stunt driver from a roof-mounted roll cage, and the “hero car,” which was the only one equipped with an electric motor to move around more quietly than the three other gas-powered vehicles.

The Penguin in The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Real Penguin Features Inspired Colin Farrell’s Makeup Transformation 

I, like every other human being on the planet, was obviously astonished by how completely unrecognizable Colin Farrell is as Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot in The Batman. However, what really threw me about the actor’s transformation into the iconic DC villain was how much more closely he resembles the flightless bird of his namesake than any live-action iteration since Danny DeVito in 1992's Batman Returns.

According to makeup designer Mike Marino on the Blu-ray featurette, A Transformation: The Penguin, the Gotham City gangster’s truly “penguin-like” appearance was intentional. He based Oz’s eyebrows on the look of a crested penguin and if you look closely at the tip of his scarred nose from the right angle, it bears a subtle resemblance to a beak.

Paul Dano in The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Paul Dano Kept His Research For Playing Riddler Away From Home 

To play The Riddler, the main antagonist of The Batman, Paul Dano underwent his own transformation, but of a more psychological nature. The Emmy nominee discussed with Seth Myers how he prepared to play one of scariest and most sadistic iterations of the DC villain yet after the Late Night host brought up comparisons to the Zodiac Killer:

That’s something Matt Reeves… cited in the beginning. So, when you get the phone call - the Ridder, Batman - it’s like, ‘Oh, my god. That’s so exciting.’ And then when he goes, ‘Zodiac Killer,’ you go, ‘OK, that’s like a much more sort of real to life reference.” … So, it was the kind of thing where, especially now that I’m a parent, a lot of my research for this I did during the daytime at coffee shops because I just didn’t want those books next to my bed.

Myers then joked about the awkward moment that might take place after Dano’s kids would find the books. Of course, even keeping his research away from where he sleeps could not prevent him from having trouble sleeping after playing the Riddler, telling Entertainment Weekly that the character was “a little hard to come down from.”

John Turturro as Carmine Falcone in The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Carmine Falcone’s Glasses Were John Turturro’s Idea

Even John Turturro claims to have undergone something of his own transformative experience to play the most notorious crime lord in Gotham City: Carmine Falcone. In fact, the Emmy winner came up with one of the role’s most distinct and original characteristics from The Batman himself.

In an interview with The Nerds of Color, Turturro says that he thought that Falcone, who is as reclusive as Batman, should also have his own “mask” that he hides behind. So, he found some dark glasses that he envisioned the gangster might wear, pitched the idea to Matt Reeves - who was amused by the concept - and it made it into the movie. 

Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon in The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

New York Mayor And Former Cop Eric Adams Inspired Jeffrey Wright’s Jim Gordon Performance

Another actor whose performance in The Batman came from a unique and interesting place was Jeffrey Wright as the first Black James Gordon in a live-action adaptation. While promoting the DC movie on Late Night, Seth Myers asked the Emmy winner about his friendship with current New York City mayor Eric Adams, whom the actor says he had known personally since he was captain of the actor’s local police precinct.

Wright eventually reveals that he looked to Adams’ career as a police officer for inspiration and “justification” for playing Batman’s main ally with a badge and the most trusted cop in Gotham City. In fact, Adams was one of a few people he cited as “touchstones” for his approach to the character, such as Keechant Sewell - New York’s current police commissioner and one of thee Black individuals to hold the position.

While it is always important to honor the source material, it is also refreshing to see actors and behind-the-scenes crew look to real-world topics and figures for inspiration when making a comic book movie, elevating the story to new levels of authenticity and believability. That effort is clear in The Batman - a film that effectively brings the DC character’s world to life.

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.