Warning! Contained Spoilers for The Batman.
One of the most perplexing things for superheroes is how they keep their identity secret. Fans often wonder how the public can fail to realize that Peter Parker taking pictures of Spider-Man means he’s Spider-Man or how Superman can hide as Clark Kent just by putting on glasses. Perhaps the strangest of all, though, is how nobody realizes Bruce Wayne is the Batman. After all, who else can afford to have such amazing gadgetry and vehicles but Gotham’s most famous billionaire? This becomes especially puzzling when he is such a public figure that throws his amazing wealth around with disregard. But if there’s one thing the recent Matt Reeves film, The Batman, has shown, it’s how Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) can get away hiding his secret identity.
Pattinson’s Bruce is very different from versions we’ve seen in the past. He isn’t putting on the billionaire playboy act in public. Instead, he’s a pained, reclusive figure who hides away rather than taking a prominent role in Gotham’s social and business scenes. When he does make an appearance, he’s seen as weak, pale, and even frail in a way. It’s not hard for people to draw a disconnect between him and the brutal ferocity of the Batman. Also, Batman’s gadgetry isn’t nearly as impressive as that of past adaptations. The Batmobile isn’t some big tank; it’s just a tricked out muscle car that any gear head might be able to reproduce. His cape doesn’t turn into an impressive wingspan that allows him to glide around the city. Instead, the one time he flies he uses a very realistic wing suit, which results in a very unimpressive crash landing.
So when Bruce is faced with the reality that the Riddler (Paul Dano) might actually expose his secret identity, it lands much differently than it would have in past versions of the character. Instead of thinking, “well of course Bruce Wayne is Batman,” it provides the audience with a very real set of consequences for exposing the fact that Gotham’s most tragic figure is also its dark vigilante. After seeing so many different versions of Batman where it was hard to believe people wouldn’t know that was Bruce Wayne, it’s refreshing to see a completely different take that makes his secret identity more realistic.
The Batman is now streaming on HBOMax.