I mean, MORE Batman drama, since we know DC Films intends to have many Batmen running around, which provides its own, unique flavor of drama. But THIS Batman drama pertains to Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves’ The Batman, which is, maybe, not going so hot. Consider the source with a huge grain of salt, but The Sun reports that Pattinson and Reeves aren’t getting on, and that Reeves’ “perfectionist” tendencies have driven Pattinson to the “breaking point”. I don’t 100% buy this, but The Batman HAS been a bitch of a production, affected by the first Coronavirus lockdown in spring 2020, only to shut down just days after Pattinson tested positive for the virus in the fall. I am sure it has been a stressful shoot for everyone, and if Reeves really is taking up to 50 takes to nail a shot, it COULD be trying to someone’s temper, and Pattinson has admitted to getting a little testy when directors keep going on physically difficult takes. Though it should be noted I do not think for one second Pattinson would actually punch anyone. At TIFF in 2019, Robert Eggers specifically mentioned Pattinson for his perseverance during The Lighthouse’s demanding shoot, and I got the impression everyone ended up liking each other just fine after making that difficult movie.
That doesn’t mean The Batman might not be draining everyone dry, though. It’s a matter of degrees. Are Pattinson and Reeves at a point where they can’t work together? Or are they just exhausted, mentally and physically, from a shoot that won’t end (still going! one year later!), and stressful pandemic conditions? There have been rumors throughout 2020 about Pattinson and Reeves not really meshing, most of which are about Reeves not liking Pattinson’s Bat-physique. And here is where this whole story gets a little gross and weird to me. It is very possible things are not going well on The Batman, it’s been a helluva year and if the director and star are sniping at one another on set, okay, believable. But surrounding all of this Bat-reporting is an undercurrent of public disapproval of Pattinson’s body that grosses me out.
Ever since production started last spring there has been consistent harping on whether or not Pattinson is “big enough” to play Batman. Nerds Online have consistently picked on Pattinson for not doing the massive body transformation we’ve seen other men undergo to play superheroes, such as Ben Affleck’s beefy Crossfit Batman in the Snyder movies. But not everyone can achieve that! Just like not every woman can whittle herself down to a size 0 at will, not every man is built like Henry Cavill. Superhero movies have done a HUGE amount of damage to body perception in pop culture. For women, it has mostly been the same old “get smaller, even smaller, disappear completely, now you’re acceptable” that we have always dealt with in visual media messaging. I have heard people call Scarlett Johansson “fat” because she doesn’t have (much) visible muscle tone. ScarJo! Who is TINY! Is not FAT just because she isn’t ripped like Jesus! But this is what superhero movies have done, they’ve compounded a problem with body perception to the extent that even SCARLETT JOHANSSON isn’t meeting the “desired” look to some.
Men are now experiencing this intense and unrealistic media messaging about their bodies. I know, I know, boo-hoo the poor men, getting a taste of what it’s been like for women for actual centuries. But steroid abuse among men who are not athletes is on the rise, and we are regularly treated to diet plans and workout regimens for superhero actors, the same way actresses have long detailed their weight loss plans to promote movies. But the superhero workout regimens never mention HGH, though I know of an actor who passed on a superhero role because he felt steroids would be an expected part of the regimen and he didn’t want to do that, and another two who dropped the steroids because of other adverse health effects; their costumes are now padded to make them look bulkier. Eating disorders are also on the rise among men, and we’re not even getting into the ways the wellness grift targets men trying to bulk up.
So maybe it’s not the WORST thing in the world if we have a normal-looking Batman. And by normal-looking I mean: Robert Pattinson is very fit, he just isn’t carrying fifty extra pounds of muscle. (Also, if he is physically capable of doing the work set before him, then he’s fit enough for the role, whether you think he’s big enough or not.) Pattinson is a lanky dude, his Batman looks lanky in that trailer, but some Bat-bros immediately started crying foul and saying he’s “too skinny” and “small” to be Batman, body-shaming underwritten by the constant rumors about Reeves and Pattinson getting along. And those same body-shaming comments are circulating this most recent flare-up of rumors about Pattinson and Reeves. You want to gossip about what might turn out to be the latest nightmare movie shoot? Fine. But let’s leave criticism of Robert Pattinson’s body, and whether you think it looks “realistic” enough for a guy who dresses like a bat to fight crime in a fake city, at the door. Maybe Reeves and Pattinson aren’t getting along. Pattinson’s body shouldn’t have anything to do with that.