The Batman Trailer Breakdown: A Game Of Bat And Cat

What's black and blue and dead all over?

The answer to that would be, well, us. We're the ones left trying to catch our breath after watching yet another incredible trailer (which you can see in 4K here) for "The Batman," just when we thought the marketing for this Matt Reeves-directed and Robert Pattinson-starring superhero movie couldn't possibly get any better than it's already been. No, clearly it wasn't enough that the production team set out with the goal of making "the best Batman ever made" — they want to make that ambition as obvious and unmistakable as it can be with each and every second of footage released in the lead-up to the film's release on March 4, 2022.

At /Film at least, anticipation for this latest "Batman" project has always been high and even more so in the wake of the recent news that Reeves wanted "The Batman" to remain completely separate from the ongoing DC Extended Universe. This latest trailer continues to inspire confidence in Pattinson's grungier take on Bruce Wayne, the creepy threat of Paul Dano's Riddler, and especially the growing likelihood that Zoë Kravitz's Sele=ina Kyle/Catwoman is about to steal the entire show. Without further ado, check out our trailer breakdown below. Warning: for those with bat or cat allergies, please be advised.

'It's Not Who You Are Underneath, But What You Do...'

Holy philanthropy, Batman! If you've spent any time at all on social media over the years, chances are you've seen the common refrain that Bruce Wayne should've just gone to therapy, committed vast amounts of his family wealth to social programs, and taken a more conventional path to ridding Gotham City of corruption. While this would unfortunately have the side-effect of making for a terribly boring "Batman" movie, the thought behind that sentiment isn't entirely off-base ... and after decades of movies largely skirting that pesky little issue, this new trailer finally hangs a lampshade on that notion.

Joined by Jayme Lawson's Bella Reál (who, it should be noted, we're only seeing for the very first time here), Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne silently endures her scornful dressing-down as she accuses the young billionaire for largely sitting on his wealth rather than allocating his resources to make any sort of difference. "You know, you really could be doing more for this city. Your family has a history of philanthropy, but as far as I can tell you're not doing anything." This earns a derisive, "Oh, if you only knew" sort of chuckle out of Wayne as their conversation is spliced together with extended looks at the action and mayhem that he causes in his secret double life behind the wheel of his Batmobile.

This version of Batman, of course, is meant to be much younger and less refined than previous iterations, perhaps putting some truth to the words that he's neglected the wiser, more common-sense route of putting his muscle behind difference-making contributions, fundraising, and other philanthropical work in favor of tricking out a muscle car, upgrading his bulletproof suit, and generally punching his way into saving his city.

This conversation is reminiscent of something that Christopher Nolan's Batman had to learn the hard way, in which Rachel Dawes (then played by Katie Holmes) had to enlighten Bruce that he couldn't expect his good deeds or good intentions to matter in the long run if nobody ever actually saw them. We'll see if that becomes a hard lesson for Pattinson's version of Bruce, as well.

That's Gotta Hurt

As mentioned above, the conversation between Bruce Wayne and the mysterious Bella Reál is edited together with an unrelated scene of Batman recklessly careening through the city streets, seemingly on the warpath against Colin Farrell's Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin. We've seen the highlights of this chase sequence in previous trailers, but here we get an even deeper look at the vehicular battle that culminates with Batman silently stalking his way towards Cobblepot's overturned car. Another brief shot features a tractor trailer — which can't help but feel like a callback to a certain famous scene involving Batman chasing down a tractor trailer — violently smashing into traffic as Batman attempts to avoid the wreckage.

Whether this is a result of the Penguin desperately trying to throw obstacles in Batman's path as flees or an uncaring and cynical Batman stopping at nothing to pursue his prey, allow me to call your attention to the fixed camera angles that Reeves seems to be returning to throughout this footage. If you remember, Matt Reeves' "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" includes a very similar shot, filmed as if in one single take, where the villainous Koba leads his ape army against a fortification held by humans. The memorable shot of a tank turret helplessly spinning around as the camera takes in the chaos surrounding it neatly parallels the moment where we see the Penguin's car flipping out of control as a result of Batman's intervention, landing dozens of feet away in a crumpled wreck. One thing's for sure — Reeves is pulling from his familiar bag of cinematic tricks to bring "The Batman" to life in stunning and visually evocative fashion.

Sending A Message

And to think all we've discussed so far happens before the studio logos even show up! This dense trailer footage moves on to the antagonist of the film, Paul Dano's Riddler. His comic book moniker is finally name-dropped here, in case anyone was worried about another "The Dark Knight Rises" situation where the name "Catwoman" is never even uttered, for fear of sounding too silly. Jeffrey Wright's Jim Gordon somberly relays to Batman that, "The Riddler has been asking for you," superimposed over images of a crime scene and the riddling message left for Batman seen in previous footage. The lengths he goes to in order to get his foe's attention apparently includes video calls, as Batman finally picks up and is greeted by the Riddler's creepy greeting, "You came. I've been trying to reach you."

Catwoman refers to Riddler's latest scheme as "all about the Waynes" in a conversation that certainly appears to be with Batman himself, heavily implying that she either knows who resides underneath that mask already when the film begins or will discover his identity in short order. The full synopsis of the film sheds some light on the villain's plot, describing that "a killer targets Gotham's elite with a series of sadistic machinations." Bruce Wayne would certainly fit the bill of "Gotham's elite," which could very well provide his (somewhat selfish) motivation to suit up and dispatch this threat once and for all.

Is it Getting Hot in Here Or...?

Look, everyone and their mother has a hot take about how "unnecessary" sex scenes are in movies these days and whether superhero movies in particular should ever contain even a hint of sensuality. Because, you know, solving every problem through rampant violence is okay, but innocent children seeing two adults kissing would just be too far! Well, thankfully Matt Reeves doesn't seem to have the puritanical hang-ups that would prevent him from infusing this footage with all sorts of chemistry between its two leads. The last outing between Batman and Catwoman featured plenty of sparks between Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway, but it couldn't help but feel watered down and kept at a distance in the cool, detached hands of Christopher Nolan. He simply didn't seem interested in the femme fatale aspect of Catwoman, and that's obviously his prerogative!

In "The Batman," however, that steady sexual tension between the two classic comic book characters is present and accounted for. The tête-à-tête between Zoë Kravitz and Robert Pattinson seems to stem from their first meeting at a crime scene, which quickly devolves into hand-to-hand fighting and a too-close-for-comfort shot of Batman, well, on top of Catwoman. "I have a thing about strays," Selina Kyle says in response to Batman's observation about all the cats she has running around at her place. 

On that note, Reeves' ability to toe the line between an objectively campy little detail and a "Se7en"-inspired tone could very well be put to the test in this movie, as evidenced by Catwoman's later quip about having nine lives. Grounding these comic book flourishes in a dark world where Batman and Catwoman genuinely have a thing for each other may help keep it all together from a tonal perspective, but either way we're here for the emphasis on the Bat and the Cat. She's right — it does have a nice ring.

Unmasking the Truth

Amid all this horniness, don't forget that there's a maniacal serial killer on the loose! And as implied earlier in this breakdown, it certainly seems as if the Riddler has his sights set on Bruce Wayne himself. In addition to Catwoman's very telling line about the Wayne family somehow factoring into his plans, Paul Dano (whose Riddler voice seems to have undergone a bit of a change from the earlier trailers, sounding far less electronic and much raspier, as though he were talking through a malfunctioning voice modulator) utters a line about how, "I'm just here to unmask the truth about this cesspool you call a city. You're part of this, too." We would guess this conversation is taking place in a holding cell soon after the Riddler is (briefly?) apprehended by police, as seen in the opening moments of the DC FanDome trailer.

What's less clear is where (and when) the Riddler snarls out the name of, "Bruce Wayne," apparently confirming that he knows Batman's true identity. We're not discounting the possibility that this trailer is simply cleverly edited to provide that mistaken impression while the actual film does something else entirely ... but the potential of a "Zodiac" or "Se7en"-influenced storyline about capturing a serial killer who is intent on revealing the true face of his pursuer is simply good to just dangle in front of our faces. Perhaps the Riddler's attempt to out the Batman's real identity for his own nefarious purposes will be just the trick that puts personal stakes into Bruce Wayne's mission to apprehend and thwart the dangerous serial killer.

Personal Problems

Oh, and speaking of personal stakes? Well, it sure seems like poor Bruce Wayne is going to be put through the wringer in this one. "All these years, you lied to me, Alfred," an obviously betrayed Bruce accuses an equally as anguished Alfred (Andy Serkis). "We all have our scars, Bruce," he says as we flash to a shirtless Robert Pattinson, whose back certainly bears the physical toll of his nightlife as Batman and which can't possibly account for the emotional scarring he's picked up along the way.

Here, we get repeated imagery of a certain cufflink or pin emblazoned with a Wayne insignia on it.

Out of context, it's tough to tell just how much emphasis this item will have throughout the film — is it a token left over from his departed parents, perhaps? Within this one trailer, however, it seems to be a personal totem that may very well help ground Bruce as the cowl and cape threaten to swallow him up. "You're still a Wayne," Alfred continues.

As if that wasn't enough, the very next bit of footage sees Gotham's police expressing their own doubts about the masked vigilante, leaving Gordon alone to defend the Batman's innocence in the serial killer crimes that they're investigating. The friction between Batman and Gotham's supposed force of protectors has served as the backbone of countless Batman stories in the past, both in print and in movies or television, so it's little surprise to see that aspect come to the fore here. It would only be fitting to see Pattinson's Batman possibly cut off from all his would-be allies and left to fend for himself against the Riddler. Maybe he'll have to prove himself to Alfred, Gordon, Catwoman, and even himself along the way. It's always darkest just before the dawn, after all.

Guessing Games

The first trailer for "The Batman" included one of what appears to be many riddles posed throughout the film (which some intrepid fans quickly solved). Other footage in subsequent trailers teased more tantalizing clues and mysteries just begging to be figured out, but this newest trailer comes right out and solves one for us. "It can be cruel, poetic, or blind. But when it's denied, it's your violence you may find." Give up? Well, here's Batman himself to clue you in: "It's justice. The answer's justice." Okay, that one was probably a little too easy to leave out there hanging for the multitudes of fans to endlessly obsess over — it's not exactly on the level of Gollum and Bilbo's riddle game in "The Hobbit," at least — but of course this would be the one that Batman figures out all on his own. We told you he's the World's Greatest Detective!

In all seriousness, the trailer concludes with some of the most breathtaking action scenes we've seen yet from this movie. The dizzying montage includes both Batman and Catwoman fending off hordes of armed henchmen, whether they be misunderstanding police, cronies of the Penguin, or perhaps supporters of the Riddler's unhinged schemes. This latter possibility seems to be the strongest, as you can see a freeze-frame of these soldiers wearing the Riddler's distinctive question mark symbol. 

A club sequence that we've seen Selina appear in previously also seems to include Bruce sans mask (though with his goth eye makeup intact), an explosion appears to rock some sort of political rally, and the trailer concludes with an unbroken shot of Batman using guns the way fans will be familiar with — as tools to be disarmed from their users and used as clubs to beat them into submission, naturally.

A new Dark Knight is here to stay and we can't wait to see him unleashed.