Editor’s note: Deadline’s Read the Screenplay series debuts and celebrates the scripts of films that will be factors in this year’s movie awards race.
Matt Reeves is the fourth filmmaker to introduce a new take on Batman. Tim Burton’s 1989 version led to three sequels, and three different Batman/Bruce Waynes in the same series. Christopher Nolan introduced a realistic take in Batman Begins with Christian Bale, and Zack Snyder brought Ben Affleck as a grizzled veteran Batman. (Of course, there was also a 1966 movie based on the Adam West TV show starring that show’s cast.)
The Batman originally began as a spinoff for Affleck, which he might have directed. When Affleck declined, Reeves started over from scratch. He and co-writer Peter Craig chose to keep The Batman separate from Warner Bros’ recently established DC Extended Universe or any future plans, and focus on Wayne (Robert Pattinson) as a detective.
Wayne is in his second year patrolling the streets of Gotham City. He’s working with Lieutenant Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), but the other cops don’t trust him. The Riddler (Paul Dano) is leaving messages for “The Batman” on his targets, and Batman’s investigation leads him to question mobsters The Penguin (Colin Farrell) and Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) while teaming with Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz).
Through the investigation, The Batman explores both sides of Bruce Wayne, the eccentric billionaire and masked vigilante. His butler, Alfred (Andy Serkis), helps Wayne maintain his double identity. The film also explores the lines he will and won’t cross in partnership with Selina. The Batman concludes with Wayne realizing the value of Batman beyond striking fear into the hearts of criminals. The ending also reveals another famous Gotham City villain waiting in Arkham Asylum.
Production in London was interrupted by Covid lockdowns but was able to resume after industry guilds developed safety protocols for productions. An HBO Max spinoff focused on Farrell’s The Penguin is also in the works.
Although the film runs three hours, Reeves and Craig’s script is a tight 129 pages. Read it below.