The trailer for The Batman from DC FanDome 2021 demonstrates that in order to fully mature, Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne will have to confront Scarecrow and his fear toxin before the conclusion of the trilogy. Batman promises to send the dark knight to new locales in a world where perspectives on how police can or should be done are changing. However, Matt Reeves’ gloomy perspective on Batman poses a dilemma in terms of how to make the character arc grow in a satisfying way.
The Batman teaser depicts a darker, grittier version of the caped crusader, with his fury on display as he faces off against a vicious serial killer version of The Riddler. This is noteworthy for two reasons. His trademark “I’m Batman” or “I’m justice” phrases have been changed with “I’m vengeance,” implying that his quest is motivated by rage and hatred rather than improving Gotham. Similarly, he discusses how the Bat-Signal has become a sign to be dreaded by Gotham’s criminals, as opposed to its historic role as a beacon of hope for Gotham’s inhabitants.
While this furious, vindictive Batman who trades on terror provides a dark genesis narrative for the character by creating Bruce Wayne an anti-hero, he cannot remain this way throughout Pattinson’s Batman film trilogy without becoming an entirely new character. To become the Batman that Gotham requires and deserves, he must mature and undergo significant transformations. The most plausible way for this to happen is for him to go up against Jonathan Crane’s Scarecrow persona. Scarecrow’s evil and devious use of terror and pain to achieve his goals, like Robert Pattinson’s Batman, can make this Bruce Wayne realize the mistake of his ways and change his strategy.
Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins trilogy was a dark and gritty reworking of previous adaptations, such as Adam West’s Batman TV series or Tim Burton’s Batman films, and portrayed Batman as an angrier, more aggressive person. Matt Reeves’ The Batman, on the other hand, takes a step farther and destroys all lingering whimsy. This is especially clear in Andy Serkis’ casting as a tense and tormented Alfred Pennyworth, who lacks the levity that even Michael Caine’s Alfred brought to the screen.
The requirement to include Scarecrow in the trilogy starring Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves presents a dilemma for the films. While many comic characters have been rebooted and reborn several times, Scarecrow has made numerous notable appearances over the previous three decades. From his multiple appearances in Batman: The Animated Series to Cillian Murphy’s Jonathan Crane role being the only villain to appear in all three of Nolan’s Batman films, to Vincent Kartheiser’s oddball approach to Scarecrow in Titans season 3, to his recurring appearances in the Arkham video games. This means that The Batman will struggle to find a fresh and interesting take on a character that has become so ubiquitous with Batman and has already seen darker versions created.