Nirvana Inspired The Batman Even More Than You Think

We've had a lot of fun over the last few months dissecting Robert Pattinson's brooding, emo, shaggy-haired version of Bruce Wayne in Matt Reeves' "The Batman," but thanks to the release of "The Art of the Batman" by James Field (available today), we now have some definitive information to help enhance our speculations.

Since his cinematic debut, Bruce Wayne has typically been portrayed as the billionaire playboy philanthropist we know and love, but Reeves wanted to do something completely different. "I wanted him to feel almost like a fallen American prince," he said in the book. "I wanted him to be someone whose parents had been larger than life; philanthropic figures who everyone revered as Gotham royalty and in the wake of their tragic deaths, instead of fostering the image of the storied Waynes, he completely withdrew, and became what I saw as an almost rockstar-like recluse." Reeves' biggest inspiration? Kurt Cobain.

Reeves said he was listening to Nirvana's song "Something in the Way" (which is prominently featured in an early scene of the film) when it all clicked. "There was just something very resonant in it for me ...I could see Bruce like a pale, somewhat vampiric rockstar in this old, grungy manor," he said. 

A brooding, tortured Bruce Wayne is a fresh take on the character, and one that allows us to see an entirely new way for the famed orphan heir to process the murder of his parents. Reeves drew inspiration from the Gus Van Sant flick "Last Days," which features Michael Pitt in a role deeply inspired by Kurt Cobain. "He's in this decaying old wreck of a home, and in the living room, he's got his amps and his electric guitars, and I thought 'Well, this is our version of Bruce Wayne," said Reeves.

Dressing down a billionaire

Despite all of his internal pain and anguish, Bruce Wayne is still one of the wealthiest people on the planet, but his wealth was intentionally reflected in minimalistic ways. His wardrobe is expensive, but not lavish, and while his split-window 1963 Chevrolet Sting Ray Corvette drips of affluence, it's a sleek classic rather than an over-the-top display of grandiose technological advancements. As Field puts it, "every single stylistic choice was made to reflect a significant internal struggle."

This was confirmed by Academy Award-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran who worked closely with Robert Pattinson to make sure they were on the same page regarding the character's look. "He had loads of thoughts, Robert," she said. "It was all about honing it down and making it less." The main challenge was trying to find the balance between showcasing the depths of his pockets while never sacrificing the psychological turmoil plaguing his existence. "He doesn't look like a playboy," said Durran. "He's more like a tortured soul."

Kurt Cobain was never comfortable with the wealth he had accumulated. When "Nevermind" the album from which "Something in the Way" hails, had reached the #1 spot on the U.S. Charts, Cobain was still living in his car. He died leaving behind a multi-million dollar estate, an accumulation of wealth that was in direct opposition to how he was feeling. What they say is true, money genuinely cannot buy happiness. (It can help and provide access to better assistance, though, let's not be ignorant.)

Pattinson embraced the Cobain-like character

Robert Pattinson knew what was at stake if he didn't fully commit to the new interpretation of the character. After all, the man who skyrocketed to fame by playing one of the most openly mocked characters in pop culture history is more than familiar with what can happen if the public dislikes your performance. Jeffrey Wright, who played Reeves' version of Gotham City Police Department lieutenant Jim Gordon, noted that Pattisonson's physical transformation was a sight to behold. "It's as though he had grown like five inches," he said. "He just had a presence about him that's not at all the way he carries himself when the camera is off." 

Knowing that Pattison thinks method acting is a crock of bologna, Wright's words regarding Pattinson's transformation are even more powerful. "It's just beautifully distinct in a way that's going to be really compelling and exciting and new," Wright said.

In order to really hammer home the Cobain inspiration, makeup designer Naomi Donne channeled the smudged black eyeliner frequently donned by Kurt, and incorporated it into the aesthetic look of Batman. "The whole Kurt Cobain black eye makeup really struck me, and I liked the idea that he had the remains of his Batman makeup on," said Donne. "Slightly moody and rock and roll-y." The combination of Pattinson's dedication to the physicality and the visual storytelling developed by Reeves and the rest of the production crew, "The Batman" successfully ushered in a Bruce Wayne by way of Kurt Cobain.