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The Batman Producer Defends Robert Pattinson’s Casting Against the Fan Backlash

Let the film come out before we judge in full.

Robert Pattinson in Remember Me

Whenever a superhero movie role is cast, be it hero or villain or supporting character, there will always be backlash. The more iconic the role, the worse the backlash gets. When it comes to Batman casting, that’s where the discourse can reach fever pitch. Back in 2008, there were vocally furious fans over Heath Ledger’s casting as Joker in The Dark Knight. Ultimately, Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his turn as the Clown Prince of Crime.

With Matt Reeves’ The Batman, there was always going to be pushback against whoever was cast in the lead role. After Ben Affleck stepped away from the role and the DCEU, fans who loved his Batman in Batman v Superman and Justice League were upset, though it’s worth noting that there was plenty of pushback against Affleck’s initial casting, as well. When it was announced that Robert Pattinson, who’s had a fascinating indie career outside of playing Edward Cullen in Twilight, would be donning the cape and cowl, the internet had mixed reactions.

Some, mostly critics and film geeks who’ve been following his career, celebrated. Others made some delightful Team Edward memes about Batman, which are fun and harmless, but others were livid that a guy who once played a vampire in a YA series aimed at young women could dare to be Batman.

Michael E. Uslan, a longtime producer of Batman films, has addressed the backlash. Speaking at Germany’s CCXP Cologne convention, he said, as reported by ComicBook.com, “My position is this: trust the filmmaker and give the filmmaker, and the filmmaker’s vision, the benefit of the doubt. Then wait ’til you see the movie. And then once you see the movie, judge the hell out of it. But I think that’s really the formula going forward. I couldn’t be happier, I couldn’t be more enthused, as a Batman fan, that Matt Reeves is the filmmaker in charge and has selected Robert Pattinson to be his next Batman.”

Uslan’s words are a good reminder to all of us pop culture obsessives that making snap casting judgements might not always pan out. There’s a difference between judging decisions made by alleged abusers, like Woody Allen or Casey Affleck, and making a snap judgement about a casting decision of a relatively unproblematic actor. It’s easy to say “oh, Twilight proves Pattinson can’t act” without seeing any of his other films, and to assume it’s just stunt casting.

Weird casting choices oftentimes pan out, Ledger aside. Karl Urban, one of the best parts of the new Star Trek movies, was not on anyone’s dreamcast list for Bones, and yet, he knocks it out of the park. Kristen Wiig is known for comedy, yet Patty Jenkins is already raving about her turn as Cheetah in Wonder Woman 1984. People doubted that former Johnny Storm Chris Evans could be a good Captain America, and people laughed when virtual unknowns Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston stepped into the roles of Thor and Loki.

Odd casting choices work. While we can see excellent performances from actors across the board, sometimes they need to break out of their original roles and play something new, and that role can be the new gold standard for their careers. While, yes, having an opinion on casting is not necessarily the end of the world, it’s also fine to change that opinion. Pattinson could be the best Batman, or he could be the next Clooney in terms of how the role pans out.

I personally have no strong feelings on him as Batman, but that could easily change after I see the film. Having an initial opinion is one thing—unless it’s driven by your sexist preconceived notions about entertainment aimed at women—but feel free to let that opinion change and shift depending on how the actual project shakes out. Let the stories grow and be told, and make final judgement based on that.

Of course, there are exceptions. I’m definitely making judgements based on the works of alleged abusers and those who choose to work with them, and there are some actors who I’ll never be a fan of just because I’m never going to be a fan; that also applies to other people who might have similar feelings about different actors. But a snap judgement about Pattinson based on Twilight isn’t fair. Let the film get closer to the release date before the internet writes him off as being the worst Bat yet. History says that the perspective on his work will change the second the film actually drops.

(via ComicBook.com, image: Summit Entertainment)

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Kate (she/her) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions she has. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, she is now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for her favorite rare pairs.