Earlier this year, Warner Bros. started preparing DC Comics fans for the passing of the cowl. In other words, along with Ben Affleck formally stepping aside as Batman, the studio announced that it would seek a different actor to play a younger version of Bruce Wayne in director Matt Reeves’ The Batman. No further developments dropped for months (to be fair, Warner Bros. has been occupied with Shazam! and probably also didn’t want their news to be overshadowed by Avengers: Endgame), but on Thursday evening, official word surfaced that Robert Pattinson was the leading candidate for a role that is often one of contention for comic book lovers.
Indeed, Batman kerfuffles are expected. George Clooney and his bat nipples are still maligned (two decades after the fact), and “Batfleck” was a descriptor of derision, but some folks truly aren’t thrilled about the actor who played Edward Cullen in The Twilight Saga. This, of course, neglects the fact that Pattinson has been quietly building a reputation as a solid, reliable actor in films like High Life, The Lost City of Z, and Cosmopolis. He’d have been a fool not to have entered the mainstream through the sparkly vampire role because this now affords him the financial freedom to explore his artistry. However, DC (and Marvel) fans feel strongly about their favorite superheros, and they simply cannot allow him to escape the stalky bloodsucker box. That’s why multiple petitions are already swirling in an effort to make Warner Bros. think again.
Because petitioners are gonna petition, I guess, like they’re also (fruitlessly) doing with Game of Thrones. One Change.org petition speaks on behalf of those who remain salty about Affleck’s reign. “Don’t make the Batfleck mistake again,” the campaign reads. “Don’t do it. For the love of all that is holy, stop trashing the DC Universe.” Another petition on the same site sides with Armie Hammer, who has previously denied that he’s up for the Bruce Wayne role. “To cast Robert Pattinson or anyone other than Armie Hammer at this point would be a joke,” the signers maintain. Still another petition makes things personal against Pattinson. “This is a complete joke!” these fans argue. “This would be the worst casting ever for the dark knight.” And yet another group of petitioners call their complaint “self explanatory.”
It remains to be seen whether any of these pleas will have an effect. On one hand, none of the petitions have gathered a substantial amount of signatures. On the other, studios and publicists have been known to float possible names for roles to gauge fan reaction before signing an actor. And with all of that said, Nicholas Hoult (who plays Beast in the X-Men franchise and currently stars as a young, and pointedly steamy, J.R.R. Tolkien in a biopic) is also supposedly on the short list. Tolkien’s own estate disavowed Hoult’s latest film, but DC fans don’t seem to riled up about his candidacy yet.
The bottom line is that probably no one is immune from complaint if they choose to play Batman unless they digitally de-age Michael Keaton or Christian Bale, which would also be pretty bonkers, but Marvel Studios got away with this for Sam Jackson as Nick Fury in Captain Marvel. But hey, people got over Keaton’s Mr. Mom stint and Bale’s role in Newsies when they donned the cowl, so maybe fans will eventually lighten up about Mr. Pattinson. Well, probably not, but at least Team Twilight appears to be endorsing the possibility.