‘The Batman’: Matt Reeves’ Gotham Is Nothing Like New York or Chicago

Matt Reeves’ The Batman brings a different tone to the Caped Crusader’s cinematic legacy. And according to the director, the movie also features a Gotham that is unlike previous versions.

Robert Pattinson as Batman and Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman in 'The Batman'
Robert Pattinson as Batman and Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman in ‘The Batman’ | DC Comics

From funky and high-tech to doom and gloom, Gotham City has been portrayed with myriad personalities over the years. Michael Keaton and Tim Burton’s films created a dark version of Gotham on 18 sound stages and a 51-acre backlot at Pinewood Studios in England. And Joel Schumacher’s ’90s movies, which were filmed at Warner Bros. Studios gave the comic book town a surreal, Tokyo-esque feel. 

Christopher Nolan’s and Christian Balfe’s first two Dark Knight movies were filmed largely in Chicago. So their version of Gotham was recognizably the Windy City. However, the final film, The Dark Knight Rises, was shot in multiple locations, including New York, Wales, and Pittsburgh. 

For ‘The Batman,’ Matt Reeves wanted a different Gotham 

The Batman stars Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne and takes a new approach to the superhero’s story. Reeves wrote the film as a thrilling crime story. And he wanted to make sure his Gotham was different, reflecting the story’s dark tone while still feeling like a real, relatable place. 

“It was very important to me that Gotham not be New York, not be Chicago, not be any particular city,” Reeves said at a press event as reported by Collider. “I wanted you to feel like, ‘Wow, this is a place we’ve never been before.’ But it feels absolutely like an iconic American city, a really corrupt, messed up place, but I wanted it to be much of our world.” 

In ‘The Batman,’ Gotham doesn’t love the Caped Crusader

The Batman picks up with Bruce Wayne in his second year as a crime-fighting vigilante. According to Pattinson, the hero has been trying to make Gotham a safer place. But for the people of Gotham City, Batman is just as bad as the criminals. 

“This thing he’s doing, it’s not even working,” Pattinson told Collider. “Like, it’s two years into it, and the crime has gotten worse since Bruce started being Batman. The people of Gotham think that he’s just another symptom of how s*** everything is.” 

“There’s this scene where he’s beating everyone up on this train platform, and I just love that there’s a bit in the script where the guy he’s saving is also just like, ‘Ahh! It’s worse!'” he added. “You’re either being mugged by some gang members, or a monster comes and, like, f***ing beats everybody up! The guy has no idea that Batman’s come to save him.” 

Pattinson also noted that the movie explores Bruce’s relationship with Gotham. And at one point, the city makes the hero question himself. 

“Like, it’s a sad movie,” The Batman star teased. “It’s kind of about him trying to find some element of hope, in himself, and not just the city. Normally, Bruce never questions his own ability; he questions the city’s ability to change. But I mean, it’s kind of such an insane thing to do: The only way I can live is to dress up as a bat.”

The Batman hits theaters on March 4.

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