The first new trailer for “The Batman” in more than a year has finally dropped, and it’s as dark as night.
Attendees of DC FanDome, the event for devotees of the comic book company that birthed Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and others, got the first look this weekend. It revealed much more of director Matt Reeves’ vision of a rainy, gloomy, seemingly perpetually nighttime Gotham City and its fearsome guardian.
The 2-minute, 45-second trailer mostly used footage not seen in the previous one, which debuted Aug. 20, 2020 — when the film was still in production — and introduced Zoë Kravitz as a ragged, street-level Catwoman, Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, a masked person we presume to be Paul Dano as the Riddler and, of course, Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman. That grim two and a half minutes unspooled to the eerie sounds of a cover of Nirvana’s “Something in the Way,” but it didn’t afford a glimpse of Colin Farrell’s Penguin and didn’t allow more than a few words spoken by Pattinson.
The new trailer, scored by what sounds like a cross between “Something in the Way” and Jóhann Jóhannsson’s stomach-churning “Sicario” soundtrack, leans into the fear-generating aspect of the hero. After all, in his origin story in “Batman” No. 1, Bruce Wayne said, “Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot, so my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible, a … a … a bat!” It’s part of the character that previous film incarnations have merely acknowledged, while the trailer makes it seem “The Batman” will explore it.
More evidence is in the expansion on the words in the teaser that rocketed across the internet last week announcing the trailer drop: “It’s not just a signal,” says a voice over an image of the famed Bat-Signal in the teaser, “it’s a warning.”
In the full trailer, the Bat-quote is “Fear is a tool. When that light hits the sky, it’s not just a call. It’s a warning.”
The new footage opens with the arrest of the uncostumed Riddler played by Dano (sans mask) in a diner; as he’s apprehended, a glimpse into his coffee cup reveals a question mark drawn in the foam. We see Batman summoned by Gordon via the Bat-Signal, then facing off against the masked street gang already seen in the first trailer.
There’s more of Kravitz as Catwoman, looking much more well appointed than she did previously. There’s also a confrontation between Batman and a prisoner — who may be Dano’s Riddler — our first glimpse of Andy Serkis’ Alfred, and Batman relentlessly pursuing a crime boss by Batmobile. By the way, this Bat-ride looks more like an armored muscle car than the urban tanks of the Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder iterations.
Perhaps most telling, there are reaction shots of both friend and foe horrified by Batman’s brutal takedowns of criminals.
All of that adds up to a grittier take on the Caped Crusader than in the serious-but-clean Nolan trilogy and the near-Grand Guignol excesses of the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher movies of the late ’80s and ’90s. Reeves’ film picks up Batman’s story at an earlier stage in his development than the recent “Justice League” cycle, emphasizing his abilities as “the World’s Greatest Detective.”
The movie’s violence, which first reared its jarring head in the 2020 trailer, looks more in line with the classic Frank Miller comic book takes, “Batman: Year One” and “The Dark Knight Returns,” than anything previously on film (including the warehouse scene in Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”).
Although Bruce Wayne in “The Batman” is a younger version than we saw in “Justice League” and its satellite entries, the new film is a stand-alone that does not occur in the same cinematic universe as those movies.
After several release-date delays caused by the pandemic, “The Batman” is scheduled to open March 4, 2022.