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Breaking down the first trailer for The Batman

Our first look at a brand new Gotham City, Batman, Catwoman, and more

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Even though production on The Batman is just ramping back up after a brief COVID-related hiatus, and the movie won’t hit theaters until more than a year from now, director Matt Reeves still brought a whole trailer for his Batman reboot movie to DC FanDome. The footage gave us our first look at Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman, Jeffrey Wright’s James Gordon, Colin Farrell’s Penguin, and even Paul Dano’s the Riddler … sort of.

Even though the film is still in early stages, there are a lot of little details to be found in the trailer, so let’s dig in.

The Riddler? Question mark?

The Riddler in The Batman (2021) Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

The trailer opens on a masked man duct taping a guy’s face up to the point of asphyxiation. Movies! Presumably, this is Reeves’ and actor Paul Dano’s take on the Riddler. During the FanDome panel, the director said his Dano plays a version of the Riddler that no one has ever seen before. He probably didn’t mean that literally, but this Riddler does wear a bag over his face, but under his glasses.

The Riddler’s victim

duct tape man in The Batman Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Tape Man’s new face says “NO MORE LIES.” Riddler seems to be quite mad about falsehoods throughout the trailer. There might be a connection here to points that Reeves dropped during the panel: Part of Bruce’s arc over the course of the film is discovering new things about his family’s place in Gotham City.

Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Here’s Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon walking onto the crime scene. He recites the message on a greeting card left at the scene, and hands the card to Batman. The Dark Knight’s presumably been brought in to consult, because he’s just standing in the middle of the room. As Reeves mentioned during the panel, this movie really leans into the “World’s Greatest Detective” title, and there hasn’t been a scene like this in a Bat-film for a while. It’s a far cry from The Dark Knight’s rooftop tête-à-têtes; a Batman who’s a bit more integrated into Gotham’s police force’s procedures.

Batman, the World’s Greatest Detective (in training)

the batman standing in a mansion in The Batman (2022) Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Batman of The Batman is still learning what it means to be the Batman, Reeves said. “This is all an experiment in the movie. The idea is that we’re in Year Two — it’s the Gotham experiment. It’s a criminological experiment, him trying to figure out sort of what he can do that can finally change this place, so in our story, he’s in that mode. You meet him and you see that he is charting what he’s doing. And he’s seeing that he’s not having any of the effect that he wants to have yet.”

Then high-profile people start dying. “The murders begin to describe sort of the history of Gotham in a way that only reinforces what he knows about Gotham, but it opens up a whole new world of corruption that went much further.”

Real Joker (2019) vibes

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Newspaper front pages seem to have been pasted up on a window, with the word “LIES” scrawled over them in red paint. They all seem to refer to the reelection of Gotham Mayor Don Mitchell Jr. for a third term, making it likely that the tape-faced victim is Mayor Mitchell himself. The mayor’s seat may also be a plot point because Actress Jayme Lawson has been cast in the role of Bella Reál, a mayoral candidate in Gotham.

Court of greeting card owls

Riddler’s greeting card in the Batman 2021 Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

The greeting card has an owl and a skeleton on it. Ha ha, because owls make a “who” sound! Is this a reference to the Court of Owls? Anything’s possible when we’re hinting at systemic corruption in Gotham City.

Riddler’s coded message

First one to decode The Riddler’s puzzle to Batman wins ... I don’t know, not dying?

Update: Many people have figured it out. The riddle written on the left is “What does a liar do when he’s dead?” and the coded answer is “He lies still.” Seems like the Riddler has a real mad-on for liars, huh?

A roundabout Two-Face reference

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

A crime scene photographer snaps a picture of a blood-spattered framed newspaper front page, that declares “MARONI DRUG BUST.” Sal Maroni is the mob boss who threw acid in Harvey Dent’s face, creating Harvey Dent’s criminal alter ego, Two-Face.

It’s an interesting Easter egg to plant because, as Reeves describes it, The Batman serves to interrogate Batman’s own duality. During FanDome, the writer-director said one of his reference points for the psychology of the film was Darwyn Cooke’s Batman: Ego. “He’s confronting the beast of the duality,” Reeves says of the story. “Him confronting the shadow side of himself.” Pattinson’s Batman will explore a “Jungian” side.

The Year Two Batcave

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Batman rides a motorcycle into the Bat “cave,” which appears to be an architectural structure of some kind, rather than a natural space. “You’re becoming quite a celebrity” says Andy Serkis’ Alfred in voiceover. Reeves describes Serkis, who starred in his two Apes films, as “one of the most beautiful actors, and he is playing an iteration of Alfred that I feel like people have never seen before.” Maybe in this one he’s a ghost! Probably not, but you haven’t seen that before, have you?

Architecture plays an important role in setting the tone of The Batman. Instead of modeling Gotham off a modern American city, it’s been built off real locations in Liverpool. “The idea is to go to Liverpool, where there’s all the sort of the foundation of Gothic architecture, and then add all of the more modern structures and through CG.”

Holy car, Batman!

During the funeral for Tape Man/Don Mitchell Jr., Bruce saves a kid from being hit by a car that’s driven into an indoor crowd. The car seems to have letters painted/taped on it: “DOA.” The driver has a letter for Batman taped to his chest, a cellphone taped to his hand, and appears to have been forced or coerced to drive the car. Definitely Andy Serkis’ voice says “Why’s he writing to you?” Matt Reeves is going full David Fincher in this one.

Cat-burgling Catwoman

selina kyle rapels into a house in The Batman Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Here we get our first look at Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle, who rappels down to the crime scene to crack a safe. By Year Two, Kyle is not the Catwoman we know, says Reeves, but she is fierce.

Introducing The Batman’s Penguin

Colin Farrell as The Penguin in The Batman Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Look closely at this image. CLOSER. Yup, that’s Colin Farrell as Reeves’ version of The Penguin. An according to the director, “he doesn’t like being called The Penguin” at this point in time. Although, frankly it’s always been a little rude?

Batman vs. the Cops, naturally

In The Batman, the Caped Crusader is both friend and foe to authority. He’s unfamiliar, but helpful. Here, he’s clearly pissing off the GCPD, but Reeves seems to have great sympathy for what they must be going through. As announced in July, the writer will actually team up with writer Terence Winter to produce a series following the cops around the “Year One” timeline. Here’s everything he’s said so far about the series.

Crime bosses at work

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

An exchange of gunfire, between two groups of men, including a gang led by The Penguin. It’s open war in Gotham at the moment.

Is a young Catwoman a Kittenwoman?

selina kyle aka catwoman in The Batman 2021 Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

To make the point about a nascent Catwoman clearer, here is a picture of Kravitz wearing a ski mask with just slight feline ears.

One thing Reeves emphasized during the panel was how they wanted to imagine The Batman as a story that “could really happen.” So instead of turning toward the fantastical, the director drew from noir films. Chinatown, The French Connection, and Taxi Driver were all key influences on the script.


An explosion in a church in The Batman Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

An explosion in the indoor room full of people where Bruce rescued a child from a car earlier. He’s dressed as Batman now, and we can now see that there’s a big portrait of a guy there and rows of chairs — seems like a memorial service. We get a clear shot of the “Dead on Arrival” message — unless the Riddler is speaking in code again.

These are not the Joker’s henchmen (...right?)

Earlier, we see these guys as the Riddler says “If you are justice, please do not lie.” The second time we see them, one of them says this dialogue: “Who the hell are you supposed to be?” Then Batman kicks the shit out of him. “I’m vengeance,” he answers.

And you thought he was going to say “I’m Batman!”

The new Batmobile!

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

This is not an Easter egg. This is just a rad shot of the new Batmobile, and its rad blue jet flame. Rad.

Batman has guns in his suit and bullets in his suit

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

A skull-faced gang member shoots batman in the chest at point blank range. If you recall, Pattinson’s Batman costume has a Bat symbol that might be made of guns. We’ll explain.

Up, up, and away!

Batman rappels upward on a grappling hook through a spiral staircase, as police fire on him. Maybe that tussle from before grew into something bigger.

Inside the Batcave, and Riddler’s message

Batman takes off his mask in the Batcave. “You are part of this too.” says the Riddler’s voice over. “How am I part of this?” asks Batman. “You’ll see,” he answers.

Perhaps another indication that part of The Batman is Bruce discovering that his family has some skeletons in its closet. Also, maybe a hint that the Riddler knows that Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same … although that could be reading too much into things. On the other hand, why would you be this far into a detailed trailer breakdown if you weren’t interested in reading too much into things?

Robert Pattinson’s real Batman

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Batman’s raccoon eyes face. Did you know that this is what basically all Batman actors since 1989 look like under the mask? Yeah, those eye holes don’t cover all of their eye skin. It’s REALISM.

He kind of has a Cliff from Death Stranding thing going, no?