A standout moment within Matt Reeves’ The Batman involved a hallway fight scene wherein Robert Pattinson walks down gunfire to take out a crew of assailants, embodying the iconic “I am the shadows” sentiment in terrifying fashion. Although this visual feast wasn’t exactly breaking new ground (more on this in just a second), what may surprise you is the fact it was accomplished practically.
While some may readily disagree, from where we’re sitting, The Batman hallway fight scene takes inspiration from three key films. By his own admission, there’s some DNA from Reeves’ War For The Planet Of The Apes – specifically from a sequence involving a computer-generated character, a dark space, and muzzle flares.
There’s also some DNA from a third-act highlight in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story involving Darth Vader and Rebel Forces – which can also be credited to The Batman cinematographer Greig Fraser. And of course, there’s a pinch of something-something from the sequence featured in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises right before Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader confronts Tom Hardy’s Bane for the very first time.
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“You know that Batman can see into the night and that he’s wearing these contact lenses, and I felt, ‘Well… this will be interesting. How’s he going to save Selina?'” director Matt Reeves explains to Cinema Blend.
“I thought, ‘What if he kills the power so the only one who can see is Batman? And how do we know that?’ That we’ll be in this point of view, and the only way we’ll know that is that they’re taking shots at this guy coming like a horror figure.”
“And the only time you can see where he is is that each time one of the muzzle flashes goes off, you’ll see him getting closer and closer, and beating somebody, and then it goes black, and in and out and in and out.”
Up until this stage of ideation, however, the plan was still to use a CG Batman. It wasn’t until the production’s stunt coordinator, Rob Alonzo, convinced Matt Reeves it could be achieved practically: first by breaking down the choreography into segments and then enhancing the footage with VFX in post.
“Rob Alonzo goes, ‘No no no. We don’t need to do that. We can do it all for real.’ And I said, ‘You’re kidding me.’ And he goes, ‘No, we’ll have to break that shot up into pieces’ – I had wanted to do it in one piece and just film him coming out of the elevator and getting closer and closer and closer. And he said, ‘But I can do it, I think I can do this for real.'”
“And so we did it for real. He got the guys to train, and they were really careful with those guns, and these were, like, the absolute best at what they do. And what you’re actually seeing is a scene that was lit with the muzzle flashes. And I can tell you it was broken into three shots. And we broke them into these little sections.”
“And so one thing had to go to the other, the whole thing was very carefully choreographed, and we had the whole thing planned out. And we just kept doing each piece until the piece worked, and once we had the piece work we said ‘Okay, that’s piece one.'”
“And then piece two. And then piece three. And then [VFX artist] Dan Lemon took it and did some adjustments so we can get the bullets to ping off the sides of the building, and off the sides of the interior, and as they ping off of Rob’s chest and all of that. But we did do it practically.”
Safe to say, the extra effort paid off.
The Batman is currently screening in cinemas – check out the BH review here and the trailer below.