After Danny Boyle’s recent backing of Robert Pattinson for Bond, Tom Jolliffe considers whether Pattinson has chosen the right franchise to come on board…
After a little conjecture following the mutual (maybe mutual) agreement for Ben Affleck to hang up his cape, the Bruce Wayne/Batman role has now went to Robert Pattinson. The internet, naturally with any decisions like this, was split down the middle.
To those acquainted with R-Batz’s post-Twilight work it seems like a great decision. Here is an actor who intensely diverted from blockbuster work to push himself following Twilight. For those only acquainted with his work in Twilight, it looked like they’d hired a hollow, unemotive pretty boy who sparkled. Bruce Wayne cannot sparkle.
With a good choice of director (Matt Reeves) and now an excellent lead, there are some promising elements in place leading to The Batman shoot. The tone they apparently want, and the tale of a younger Wayne finding his feet as Batman make for a potentially interesting film. The trouble is, we’ve been let down by the DCEU before, particularly in their quest to take too much inspiration from (First) Nolan and then the MCU as far as style and tone. To an extent they still lack their own identity (unless you count incoherence as an identity I suppose). It’s only really worked in Wonder Woman which was fun, light-hearted and benefited from a magnificent lead. Aquaman had its moments (and it’s own great lead) but beneath the colours, insanity and relentless goofiness, it is a pretty incomprehensible and shockingly messy film.
There have been warning signs, and whilst we can’t take anything as chiselled in stone until the production is complete, it might seem the film could steer into the same potholes as previous films. Most significantly could well be the issue of villains. It’s been rumoured anywhere up to six villains may appear. That could get very messy, and would be difficult to give each individual enough screen time to really engage the audience. Likewise, the more time that is put into the villains of the piece, the more could get taken away from Pattinson. Have you ever followed an ingredients list and found yourself bored by the half way point? Each of those ingredients could likewise threaten to ruin a dish, if there’s a mistake in the cooking process. Whereas you get yourself 4-5 good ingredients and with greater assurance, cook the dish perfectly, you’ve got yourself a great meal. The gumbo, freestyling, riffing approach is difficult to pull off. Marvel have done it, but even a film as successful as Endgame was a whole heap of mess (they’ve always had a good knack of letting the incoherence seep in beyond the halfway point, by which time you’re hooked in anyway).
Time will tell on The Batman, but there was an interesting little train of thought recently from Danny Boyle. Boyle of course got canned from Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond (currently under constant rumour of disaster). It’s a shame as he’d have done a potentially great Bond. Still, Boyle’s own tip for the role of Bond is Robert Pattinson. Once Craig holsters his PPK for good, there’s going to be a new JB. This has already seen red hot conjecture, even prior to Spectre. For years now we’ve been told we’re getting a Black Bond, a Female Bond, or that Bond would be put out to pasture because the millennials can’t stomach his personality in 2019.
The gig can bring with it some interesting characterisation. That was shown in Craig’s first three outings certainly. He’s now gone beyond the point they can do much more with his arc. Whilst working with the producers of Bond brings with it a fair few pitfalls and creative road blocks, it still has less hazards to overcome than the DCEU lays out. Has Pattinson snatched up ‘the big’ role too early? Of course there’s no guarantee that Bond would come his way. He would have undoubtedly, at a good age, have to be in the running.
With Bond, I’m not sure you could cast someone who’s played someone as iconic as Batman either. Historically, they’ve cast relative unknowns, or those who’ve made their name primarily in TV. Pattinson would already be the biggest name to get cast as Bond (theoretically) even taking Batman out of the equation. Still, having focused almost entirely on indie work for 7-8 years now, he’s taken himself out of the limelight enough, and retained an air of characterisation anonymity that would give his Bond an air of surprise. Maybe he could do both. He’s an excellent choice in either role, but I think Bond always suits someone coming from out the blue somewhat. That probably leans the role toward The Bodyguard’s Richard Madden. For me though, I think leaving Bond for 5 years after Craig’s last outing would benefit the franchise, where they can work on how to successfully reboot and revitalise a character who is increasingly outdated in the modern world (I blame the world more than Bond…suck it up people, he’s a dick, that’s his character). I just think Pattinson, above a lot of the names mentioned (including Madden) could give the role an interesting complexity, whilst retaining an easy charm that the likes of Connery and Moore had.
By taking on the Batman role he may well have automatically excluded himself from the running for Bond. Unless there’s a change of ethos toward reboot. The difficulty remains though, when you’ve played an iconic character (even if it doesn’t go quite right) it’s hard to disassociate yourself from that role. By the same token, Henry Cavill, though probably pretty spot on for a more linearly characterised Bond, is also unlikely to be in the running having played Superman.
In the end, everything is geared up and ready. Pattinson will be Bruce Wayne. He’ll undoubtedly do a good job, regardless of whether the script is up to par. Whether he’ll watch the next James Bond be cast and just wonder whether he’s missed a trick, remains to be seen. However, Pattinson will undoubtedly return to indie films following his jaunt back into blockbusters. How many outings he’ll get as Batman is also a point of interest, particularly as the big ‘all in’ Justice League kind of films seem a bit vapid for someone of Pattinson’s cinematic mentality.
Would you rather see Pattinson as Batman or Bond? Could he do both? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @flickeringmyth, or in the comments below…
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has three features due out on DVD/VOD in 2019 and a number of shorts hitting festivals. Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see here.