Warning: This article contains minor spoilers for The Batman!
It’s no secret that The Batman lurks in the shadows — especially in the hit movie starring Robert Pattinson. However, there’s one scene in particular that makes awesome use of his penchant for darkness.
It’s also one of the coolest action sequences in the whole movie.
During an interview with CinemaBlend, director Matt Reeves has revealed that the scene in question where Batman (Robert Pattinson) exits an elevator in total darkness — and we only see what he’s up to by the light of his enemy’s gunshots — was entirely done with practical effects.
“[VFX artist] Dan Lemon took it and did some adjustments so we can get the bullets 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,” he explained. “But we did do it practically.”
“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,” said Reeves. “How’s he going to save Selina? I thought, well 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.”
Reeves admitted that his first instinct was to use visual effects to accomplish the shot. Thankfully, second unit director Rob Alonzo had other ideas.
“Rob Alonzo goes, no no no. We don’t need to do that,” he explained. “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.”
Essentially, it sounds as though Alonzo worked with the team to choreograph the pitch-black scene to perfection. What you see on-screen was a scene that’s entirely lit by the muzzle flashes of the guns. “He got the guys to train, and they were really careful with those guns,” said Reeves.
Ultimately, the scene was broken into three shots, with each shot broken down into sections — presumably to make the whole thing more manageable.
“The whole thing was very carefully choreographed, and we had the whole thing planned out,” he explained. “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.”
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It sounds as though The Batman was a lot of work, with star Robert Pattinson working hard to perfect his Bat-voice… even though he admits that it wasn’t very good at first. Director Matt Reeves even filmed some fake scenes to protect the film’s ending.
IGN’s own review of The Batman called it “a gripping, gorgeous, and, at times, genuinely scary psychological crime thriller that gives Bruce Wayne the grounded detective story he deserves.”
If you want to read more about The Batman, you can find out the answers to The Batman’s 5 biggest burning questions, or take a look at what the ending really means.
Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.