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Q&A: Cast, director discuss narrative importance of perspective in ‘The Batman’

Zoë Kravitz (left) and Robert Pattinson (right) play Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne in “The Batman.”(Courtesy of Jonathan Olley/DC Comics)

"The Batman"

Directed by Matt Reeves

Warner Bros. Pictures

Mar. 4

By Janice Yun

March 2, 2022 9:05 p.m.

The hero of the shadows is coming back into the spotlight.

Releasing in theaters on Friday, “The Batman” reintroduces Gotham City’s favorite billionaire, Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson), during his early vigilante years as the Batman. The film follows Wayne as he tracks down the murderous Riddler (Paul Dano) through a series of bloody clues with the help of Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) and police commissioner James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright).

In a Q&A organized by Warner Bros. and moderated by presenter Tiffany Smith, Pattinson, Kravitz and director Matt Reeves spoke with the Daily Bruin’s Janice Yun and other college journalists about the latest interpretation of the hero’s story and how auditory and visual elements place audiences in Batman’s point of view.

[Related: Q&A: Cast, director share details about Netflix’s ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ sequel]

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tiffany Smith: For Robert, how did the film being set in Batman’s early years of being a vigilante affect your performance and the feelings that you had about this character?

Robert Pattinson: It allows for an opening. Normally, Batman goes away. He trains and he comes back fully realized. He’s confident his abilities have changed, and he’s heroic. In this (version), I loved all of the frailties he has, such as in this scene where he’s using his cape for the first time. Batman’s always been fallible and just a man in an armored suit, and this really embraces that so much.

TS: For Matt, did you start with the visual style that you wanted to do and have that influence the story, or did you have an idea of the story you wanted to do and that in turn influenced the visuals?

Matt Reeves: The creative process, for me at least, is like being in a dark room, and you’re on your hands and knees, and you’re reaching for something that feels familiar. I knew that I wanted to take this iteration of a younger Batman who was early in his arc, that there was room for growth, room for an awakening, and put him at the center of this mystery that would pull into this path of all of these characters.

The opening shot of the movie is something that I just saw when I started trying to think about the Riddler’s point of view and the idea of getting inside his perspective. What I love when I go to the movies is the idea of putting the audience in this empathic relationship with the characters so that they can experience this immersion into someone else’s perspective. In that sense, it was more the idea that led to the visual.

[Related: Q&A: Creators, cast of ‘The In Between’ examine union of love and grief in new film]

TS: The sound design and the music are such a big part of the film. Matt, can you talk a little bit about how much the sound design and the music with Michael Giacchino doing the Batman theme affected the film?

MR: The whole idea was to put (the viewer) as much as possible in the point of view of the characters and specifically in the point of view of Batman – and the sound is one of the tools to do that. Then the other part of that, of course, is the music by Michael, which is incredibly emotional.

There’s the obsessive drive of Batman. His theme has that muscular theme. Michael said to me, “I know people are going to think it’s too repetitive, but I just keep trying to change it, but it feels like what it is.” That’s because that’s the kind of relentlessness that Batman is on. Then there’s the Bruce theme, which has this very melancholy (tone that reflects) the weight of what’s happened to him and being famous in a place where you don’t really want anyone to recognize you. (Finally, there’s) Selina’s theme, which has this great kind of yearning and noir quality.

TS: For Zoë and Robert, how did you find chemistry so instantaneously?

Zoë Kravitz: It was very easy. Rob (and I) have been friends for a long time. A lot of (the chemistry) was on the page – it’s really what Matt wrote. They both felt alone their entire lives, and to meet somebody who has a similar way of thinking that grabs you the way that they grab each other, it really is the heart of the story. It’s a really big deal for both these characters to feel this way. If you’re attached to your character emotionally, it’s really easy to play.

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Janice Yun | Daily Bruin senior staff
Yun is a senior staff writer for Arts & Entertainment. She was previously the Theater | Film | Television editor from 2021-2022 and an Arts reporter from 2019-2021. She is also a fourth-year communication and Asian American studies student.
Yun is a senior staff writer for Arts & Entertainment. She was previously the Theater | Film | Television editor from 2021-2022 and an Arts reporter from 2019-2021. She is also a fourth-year communication and Asian American studies student.
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