Set photos from DC Comics and Warner Bros. highly anticipated The Batman may actually reveal a few key plot points from the film. Matt Reeves’ adaptation of the Caped Crusader was originally a sequel film to 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and was set to star Ben Affleck in the titular role, as well as in the director’s chair. However, due to the critical and commercial reception of Batman v. Superman, Ben Affleck dropped out of the project, which was quickly taken over by director Matt Reeves.
Reports in May of 2019 broke the news that Reeves had cast Robert Pattinson in the role of Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, replacing Ben Affleck and establishing this film as a wholly different incarnation of the character. Since then, several other cast members have been announced in major roles, including Jeffery Wright as Commissioner Gordon, Paul Dano as the Riddler, Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot/the Penguin, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone, and Andy Serkis as Bruce’s trustworthy butler and confidant, Alfred Pennyworth. The film is set to release in theaters on June 25th, 2021.
Set photos released in early January 2020 showed, among other things, a first look at Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne, Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot, and what appears to be the Gotham City PD as well as several media and news organizations in Gotham City. At first glance, these photos suggest what may be a “homecoming” of sorts for the character of Bruce Wayne. These photos may also hint at the presence of other, unconfirmed characters within the movie, as well as a reference to some of the stories that the film may borrow its plot from.
The thread of set photos show a group of media entities posted outside a gated area, possibly a house or an important building in Gotham City. The most obvious reading here, alongside the pictures of Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne on a motorcycle, imply that this might be Wayne’s return to Gotham after the years of his training. While reports have suggested that the film is not an origin story, this could potentially be a flashback sequence showcasing Gotham’s reaction to their fabled prince returning from his many years abroad.
Another bit of speculation gathered from the presence of Gotham Action News and other media organizations is the potential appearance of one of Batman’s oldest supporting characters, one directly tied to the news. It may be a stretch, but the media presence in the film could suggest that Vicki Vale, the classic Batman love interest, might make an appearance. Vale, who first appeared in Batman #49 (October 1948), is usually depicted as a journalist within Gotham City, one who frequently finds herself on the trail of Batman’s secret identity. While these photos aren’t a direct confirmation, there’s a precedent there for a potential cameo from the character.
Obviously the most notable aspect of the leaked set photos is audience’s first glimpse at what Robert Pattinson will look like as Bruce Wayne, and it’s one that looks nothing like any other on-screen version of the character. For starters, the character is seen in faded motorcycle gear; clothing that speaks more to a wanderer or drifter than it does to the richest man in Gotham. This could lend credence to the idea that what we’re seeing is some kind of homecoming for Bruce.
While it’s not necessarily a plot point, the image of Bruce Wayne on a motorcycle is also a striking parallel to one of the most iconic images from Batman: Zero Year, Scott Snyder’s 2013 comic book storyline that served as a revamped origin for the character. The storyline features both Oswald Cobblepot and the Riddler in roles of significance, both characters who are confirmed to appear in the film. The motorcycle comes into play in the third arc of the story, “Savage City,” which sees Bruce as Batman riding a motorcycle into battle to confront the Riddler after he executes a plot to flood the entirety of Gotham City. While there’s no indication that the film will follow the plot of the comic, there’s no denying that the sight of Bruce Wayne on a motorcycle doesn’t conjure up comparisons to Snyder’s Zero Year.
Another potential plot detail yielded by the set photos is Colin Farrell’s Oswald Cobblepot seen in the same general area as the Gotham news vans and Bruce Wayne. Farrell can be seen in the photos rocking silver hair and the iconic umbrella that The Penguin has frequently been portrayed with. The character’s proximity to the other elements within the set photos may hint at his relevance to the story.
The graphic novel Batman: Earth One vol. 1 features the Penguin as the primary antagonist of the story. Within it, Oswald Cobblepot is the mayor of Gotham City, and, later in the story, discovered to be intimately tied to the murder of the Waynes. The presence of the Gotham news organizations may suggest that this is some kind of a press conference being held by Cobblepot, or at the very least for him. If that were the case, the film could hypothetically be borrowing from the central plot line of Earth One, and feature Cobblepot either as the mayor or running for the position.
While plot details are relatively light on The Batman, casting news and interviews have suggested that the movie will simultaneously be a treat for fans as well as a wholly unique version of the Batman mythos. If these set photos are any indication, there are many different potential storylines that Reeves could take inspiration from.
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