Meet lead actor in next Batman movie- CVHS junior Matthew Manders



Matthew Manders poses stoically in his suit on the set of “The Batman”.

When Warner Brothers announced the controversial casting for the new Batman movie all the way back in 2019, many doubted the skills of the actor the studio had chosen to play the movie’s titular character. Some questioned whether or not the actor was experienced enough, skilled enough, or even old enough to play a character as dark and well-beloved as DC’s Batman. The actor had flown below the radar for the better part of a decade (as he had only been alive and coherent for the better part of a decade) and, despite his critical success in the less publicized world of theatrical acting, left many questioning whether or not the man truly matched the character. However, four years have passed since the studio’s initial announcement, and Matt Reeve’s The Batman is out in theaters for all to see, which means that the reviews are in; and the majority of audiences had nothing but kind words to say in response to CVHS junior Matthew Manders’s performance. 

“It makes me really happy. I mean, it’s exciting to see that audiences like the movie, you know? You’re always gonna have some people that don’t like it, but I mean, that’s okay. I think it’s great that the movie’s doing well,” said Manders.

It’s no wonder Reeves’s Batman is doing so well, as Manders’s performance of comic book classic Bruce Wayne left something new and refreshing on the minds of many viewers. It took a different and exciting approach to the character, one not yet seen on the silver screen. When many think of Hollywood’s Bruce Wayne, they think of some sort of billionaire playboy by day, stoic and gritty villain by night type of archetype. Most movie portrayals of the character have the almost psychopathic ability to switch personalities at a moment’s notice in a way that can sometimes feel awkward, taking the viewer out of the story. Reeves’s movie seems to eliminate the divide between the characters of Batman and Bruce Wayne, making the character feel a little more vulnerable and realistic- or at least as realistic as a story about a man who dresses up in a bat-themed Halloween costume to fight crime can feel.

“The thing I wanted to bring with this Batman, and you’ll definitely see it in the film, is that he’s near to Batman, right? But he hasn’t really developed the Bruce Wayne personality yet. He’s sort of trying to figure out a balance between Batman and Bruce Wayne. Essentially, Batman is also trying to find out just who Batman is,” Manders said.

Manders’s performance certainly succeeds in presenting this Batman-before-Batman persona. The entire movie seems to almost function as some sort of origin story, while still successfully ditching the repetitive flashback of Bruce Wayne tragically watching his parents die. Instead, it trades out the overdone, tragic scene with a more in-depth and nuanced look at what it really means to be Bruce Wayne. While the runtime of the movie does include some tear-jerking moments, it also includes some action-packed sequences that serve as a testament to Manders’s skill. 

“I like to do my own stunts. There’s this one scene in the film. Spoilers, by the way, but I basically jumped off this building. I open up the wingsuit. And what we did was, we actually had me put on this wingsuit. And so I got to actually like, fly,” Manders said.

With both notable action and story, there was not much the movie didn’t have going for it. Manders even delivers a wonderful and emotional performance even from within the infamously restricting Batman suit, using his immense acting skills to work around the stiffness of the iconic garb. However, even those proficient with the suit tend to have a certain… lavatory-related lament with it.

“I really like the look of the suit,” Manders said, “But It is really uncomfortable. One thing I will say is, I wish the suit had a zipper- because, you know, when you’re shooting for long hours, you can’t really use the bathroom because then you have to like take the whole suit off.”

Christian Bale, who portrayed Batman in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, famously voiced concerns similar to Manders’s own, signaling a sense of comradery between the two actors. Manders seemed to feel a connection to many of the previous Batman portrayals, stating Bale’s to be his favorite, even if he believes Affleck’s is the hottest. There is one thing noticeably different between him and many of the past actors though, one that many originally pointed out when Manders’s role was first announced- his age. Most Batman actors aren’t younger than thirty, making Manders, who was a freshman in high school when shooting began, a noticeable deviation from the norm.

“I really like the look of the suit,” Manders said, “But It is really uncomfortable. One thing I will say is, I wish the suit had a zipper- because, you know, when you’re shooting for long hours, you can’t really use the bathroom because then you have to like take the whole suit off.”

— Matthew Manders

Many believed Manders’s youth added a new dimension to the character- instead of some brooding 30-something year old, audiences of The Batman were treated to a youthful yet nuanced portrayal of the character. While it’s not unheard of for studios to age up characters in superhero films, such as with Bucky in Captain America or Robin in Batman Forever, it’s pretty uncommon to see them aged down. Still, The Batman manages to do so without making it seem awkward, forced, or stereotypical. Part of this, obviously, is due to Manders’s own physique, which is mature in comparison to his age, rivaling many past Batman portrayals in sheer size. Many have noted upon how Manders’s disproportionately tiny head in comparison to his body added a much-needed teenage awkwardness to the character. Manders was also quick to assure that his irregular build was gained in the traditional sense, despite how unnatural it may look at first glance.

“I had a very intensive workout routine. Definitely all-natural. No steroids and stuff. You know, like, eight hours in the gym every day. I had this very intensive diet, tons of healthy food. It’s all like in this planner thing,” said Manders.

Manders’s odd physique aside, the actor had many qualities to praise. One of the most noticeable of which being his chemistry with his co-stars. Zoe Kravitz, a well-known and prolific actress who has appeared in many well-known pieces of film, starred alongside Manders. She acted as Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman- and the chemistry the two had built together throughout the movie was palpable.

“I think building chemistry is always really awkward at first. But just like, the more you get to play with the character and just really get to know the actor better, you start to build a bond between each other. And Zoe is- she’s just very funny,” said Manders.

Manders had many behind-the-scenes stories to tell, but perhaps one of the funniest and most surprising ones is about when Kravitz tricked Manders into thinking she was throwing a celebrity-style temper tantrum, complete with feigned vandalization of property.

“Yeah, so one time on the set we had like this. We had like this huge buffet and she went up. And she just like starts smashing everything. And I was like, ‘what’s going on?’ But turned out it wasn’t like actually, like, real food. It was a scene, a prank,” Manders said.

The two actor’s willingness to play off each other came across well on the big screen- every scene the two are in together is a delight, one that audiences will definitely enjoy. It would not be surprising if the movie’s main couple were to make their way into pop culture history, all thanks to the incredible acting of Manders and Kravitz. Manders specifically successfully breaks through many of the baseless claims made about his acting ability when the movie was announced, ultimately creating one of the most interesting Batman performances of the 21st century.

“People are not always going to be happy. But you just have to try and do your best to change their minds. I wanted to make this performance my own. So hopefully, the audience can see the differences,” said Manders.

You can see Matt Reeves’s The Batman featuring CVHS student Matthew Manders in theaters right now.