The first trailer for “The Batman,” which launched at the inaugural DC FanDome event back in 2020, might be the most incredible trailer I’ve ever seen. At least, the trailer that got me the most excited to see a film. From the somber-toned needle drop of Nirvana’s “Something In The Way,” you could feel every skeptic be collectively converted. This was positioned to be a Batman unlike any other, and things only got better from there with a teaser building toward a heart-stopping moment, when the music drops and Robert Pattinson’s Dark Knight mercilessly beats a random miscreant into the ground.
I must have rewatched that trailer a few dozen times, and even found myself sucked into YouTube’s reaction video community. Everything about this Batman seemed fresh yet faithful to the character’s essence. At some point during my endless rewatching, I noticed there was more to the Nirvana influence than the band’s subversively grim 1991 ballad. Whereas so many trailers maintain that tired trend of reimagining a pop song as a dreary cover, “The Batman” trailer fully embraced Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s original, which actually informs the score itself. Michael Giacchino’s Batman theme emerges slowly, following the chords of “Something In The Way” until it supersedes the song altogether and blazes over the trailer’s closing shot of Batman trudging ominously towards the camera.
Little did we know just how important Cobain would be to “The Batman” proper. Not only had director Matt Reeves used “Something In The Way” to set the tone for his first trailer, but also used Cobain as a model for his emo version of Batman. And that was his plan from the start.
A Different Angle On Bruce Wayne
Once “The Batman” arrived in March 2022, it became clear just how central Kurt Cobain was to Matt Reeves’ vision. Not only does Nirvana’s “Something In The Way” appear throughout “The Batman,” sending the song to the top of the charts some 30 years after it was first released, but Robert Pattinson’s forlorn, brooding Bruce Wayne also seemed to embody the spirit of Cobain — especially as depicted in Gus Van Sant’s dramatized version of his later life, “Last Days.”
Prior to the film’s release, Reeves revealed how that was all by design, telling Empire:
“When I write, I listen to music, and as I was writing the first act, I put on Nirvana’s ‘Something In The Way’ … That’s when it came to me that, rather than make Bruce Wayne the playboy version we’ve seen before, there’s another version who had gone through a great tragedy and become a recluse.”
It seems that revelation came pretty early in the writing process. Speaking to Variety, Robert Pattinson explained how, prior to being cast, he’d been checking in with producer Dylan Clark about the status of a new Batman movie, and was pleasantly surprised when he was asked to meet with Reeves before even seeing a script. As the actor recalled:
“[Reeves] was just so lovely and showed me some of the art. There was incredible artwork already done for it, how he’s envisioning Gotham. He had a really interesting take. It was Kurt Cobain, Nirvana references, which as soon as he said it, I’m like, “Oh! Okay.” That’s definitely a different angle on Bruce than we’ve ever really seen before. He’s just an incredibly kind, sensitive, articulate person and it just seemed like the kind of person I want to work with.”
Cobain And Wayne Are A Perfect Pair
After 30 years of Batman on film (the 1966 film aside), audiences had every reason to question why we needed another movie in 2022. But as should be obvious by now, part of Batman’s enduring popularity comes precisely from the fact that he can be endlessly reinvented. The Dark Knight is essentially a blank slate that any actor can play and any director can reinterpret. And with “The Batman” Matt Reeves proved there was still so much to be done with the character.
While I personally didn’t love the outcome when the film finally debuted (it’s basically just “Se7en” but not as good and Batman is there) I absolutely support Reeves’ project to tell a new Batman story. Especially since the Kurt Cobain influence turned out to be an inspired choice, it’s actually surprising no other director took a similar route.
The lead role in a Batman movie is, as any fan knows, three roles in one. There’s Batman, his Bruce Wayne playboy persona, and the real Bruce Wayne. It’s that last facet that remained somewhat unexplored on-screen until Reeves ran with his grunge-infused vision of the character. Even Christopher Nolan, who didn’t shy away from depicting Wayne’s emotional trauma, didn’t quite get at the crippling effect of witnessing the kind of tragedy young Bruce Wayne was exposed to. The quietly seething version of Wayne we got in “The Batman” was one of the best aspects of the film, and made so much more effective by the Cobain influence. Now let’s hope things get shaken up a bit with “The Batman — Part II” so the rest of the Reevesverse can match his inspired Bruce Wayne.
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/Film – The Batman’s Kurt Cobain Imagery Was There From The Beginning
Author: Joe Roberts
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March 19, 2023