“This has got to be your favorite night of the year, doesn’t it, mate? Happy bloody Halloween.” – Commissioner Pete Savage in The Batman
Batman was always built for Halloween. You really can’t get more Halloween-y than someone dressing up like a bat and running the streets battling a rogues’ gallery that includes a creepy clown and a woman in a sexy cat costume. Tim Burton recognized this as he set the events Batman returns during the holiday season to contrast his hero against the gothic backdrop of Gotham City. And Matt Reeves recognized it in his moody superhero reboot The Batman, which is specifically scheduled towards the end of October. COVID-19 delayed Reeves’ film almost two years, and it finally hit theaters with an awkward release date in early March. But now that it’s available to stream, we can finally check it out The Batman in October – the time of year for which it was always designed and destined.
Due to the congruence between Batman and Halloween, the holiday has been stylistically cast into a few Batman stories, including Batman: Arkham Knight, the rumored final installment in the hugely successful Arkham video games. One of the more visually satisfying mashups comes in Batman: Haunted Knighta collection of Legends of the Dark Knight Comics, all taking place on or around the holiday, and see villains like Scarecrow get into the spirit of things by defacing the bat signal to project a giant jack-o’-lantern into the sky. The comics were written by Jeph Loeb (one of Reeves’ screenwriting teachers at the University of Southern California), who went on to create one of the most influential Batman graphic novels of all time: The Long Halloween. But until The Batmanthe holiday was mostly absent from the major Batman films.
Films that incorporate holidays into their stories are usually intended to evoke a collective seasonal feeling, with the greatest narrative impact occurring when the celebrations are at their peak in real life. People who like to like movies Christmas holidays from National Lampoon Christmas might still be fun in June, but it’s not as true as it is for people who are active in the midst of the stress of buying gifts and spending time with extended family.
And this principle applies to The Batman, which unfolds its full first act on Halloween. Reeves and co-writer Peter Craig use the holidays to reinforce the eerie yet exciting tone of the entire film. The weather is starting to cool. People are out late in masks and face paint and get into all sorts of trouble. An idiot even murders the mayor. Everyone in Gotham is restless. In October, the same vibes are already in the air for audiences before they even start watching, adding a level of fun and immersion that’s certainly less distracting than 3D glasses.
In late January 2019, when Warner Bros. announced this The Batman coming out in June 2021, no one had any idea what a Robert Pattinson Batman film could look like, so a summer release wasn’t surprising. Every solo Batman film — even that cheesy 1966 film — had come out in June or July, when action-packed blockbusters were poised for their biggest returns.
But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and production continued The Batman took a break. Star Wars actor Andrew Jack, The Batman‘s experienced dialect coach, was among those who died from COVID. (The film is dedicated to him.) It took half a year for the cameras to start rolling again — and then they were shut down again after Pattinson also reportedly contracted the disease.
At this point, the film’s release date has been pushed back to the first weekend of October 2021. joker, another Warner Bros. film that had also benefited from an eerie fall mood, had been released over the same weekend two years earlier and racked up $1 billion and 11 Oscar nominations, as well as two wins. The studio seemed to be trying to replicate that success The Batman by postponing its release to a month not traditionally reserved for comic properties of this magnitude, a weekend it had already dominated with an analog release. The October release date took on another dimension of excitement when the first footage was shown at DC FanDome 2020 and a quick glimpse of a Halloween greeting card teased the film’s setting.
The first Batman film to briefly incorporate Halloween into its story was Batman forever, which features a scene in which Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and Riddler (Jim Carrey) dress up as trick-or-treating to break into Wayne Manor. But the film’s tone is well established before the holidays arrive in the film’s final act, and it’s only there to give an unsuspecting Alfred (Michael Gough) an excuse to open the front door for the villains while he’s handing out candy .
The Batman goes much further, with Reeves keeping a firm grip on the holiday by inserting its opening sequences with images of pumpkins, spooky masks, Halloween greeting cards, a costumed kid ready for trick-or-treating, and a TV newscaster leading the night as “dark and stormy.” But in this film, Halloween continues well beyond October 31st. The death of the city’s corrupt leaders at the hands of the Riddler has created a power vacuum that will deepen Gotham’s decay. Flamboyantly dressed troublemakers like Penguin waiting in the shadows will now rush in to cause more trouble. Barry Keoghan’s cameo at the end of the film as the Joker suggests that more costumed tricksters and killers like Riddler are on the way. For Batman, the moods and traditions associated with Halloween are now eternal. The long Halloween has begun.
All of those thematic underscores would have hit harder if the pandemic hadn’t delayed the film until March. Now we’re finally surrounded again The Batmanis the right season. We can finally watch the film the way Reeves always intended: as we dive into the spirit of Halloween and the dark and spooky moods of the season, with a much clearer idea of just how cold all that rain is meant to be.
The Batman is Streaming on HBO Max and can be rented or bought Amazon, vuduand other digital platforms.