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The Batman: What Does Nirvana’s Song Symbolize In The Trailer?

The first trailer of The Batman was released at the recently held DC FanDome event on 22nd August. Directed by Matt Reeves, The Batman boasts of a stellar cast with Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin, Paul Dano as Edward Nygma/The Riddler, Jeffery Wright as Commissioner James Gordon, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, and John Turturro as Carmine Falcone.

The Batman: Robert Pattinson Shines In Gritty, Violent Trailer

Prior to the release of the first trailer, Matt Reeves had confirmed that his take on The Batman would be detective-noir in style, a marked departure from all the previous iterations of the Dark Knight. As only 25-30% of the filming has been done, the first trailer did a remarkable job in setting the tone and theme of The Batman.

Following the footsteps of Zack Snyder’s iteration, Matt Reeves has not shied away from making his version of Batman a dark and violent vigilante. Apart from killing, Robert Pattinson’s Batman is every bit graphic and mature like Ben Affleck’s Batman, if not more.

Known for being extremely selective, Matt Reeves’ choice for the Dark Knight was initially met with a flurry of memes and jokes. But after the first trailer was released, a lot of people have reconsidered their stance and willing to give Pattinson the chance he deserves.

Matt Reeves’ attention to detail is not just limited to actors, but also set locations, background scores, and this time, trailer music. If the first look of The Batman was not dark enough, using Nirvana’s Something In The Way surely did put across the message about how the movie is going to be.

Something In The Way is one of the darkest songs written by the late Kurt Cobain. Often overshadowed by more popular songs like Smells Like Teen SpiritCome As You Are, and LithiumSomething In The Way was allegedly written by Cobain while he was homeless.

It is believed that Kurt Cobain slept under the Young Street Bridge when he was kicked out of his house to find a job. Described as one of the loneliest and most haunting periods of Cobain’s life, Something In The Way was his most personal song. So, what does it signify in The Batman‘s trailer?

The lyrics of Something In The Way are:

Underneath the bridge
The tarp has sprung a leak
And the animals I’ve trapped
Have all become my pets
And I’m living off of grass
And the drippings from the ceiling
But it’s okay to eat fish
‘Cause they don’t have any feelings
Something in the way
Ummmmm…
As the song was quite personal to Kurt Cobain, the lyrics are quite literal. But, when it’s put in the context of Gotham City, the song adds much more symbolism to the first trailer. Let’s break it down.
In the comics, as well as in the previous iterations of Batman, Gotham has always been a cesspool of corruption and moral decadence. Ruled by mobs and powerful families, the city is no place for honest people to thrive. Like the underneath of a bridge, Gotham houses all the dirt and scum which have been there for far too long. But with the arrival of Batman, the structure has changed, like a leak in the tarp, making people uncomfortable.
Now in his second year of crimefighting, Bruce Wayne still has to master a lot of things before he becomes the symbol of hope for the people of Gotham. In the DC FanDome event, Matt Reeves said that The Batman is inspired by Darwyn Cooke’s Batman: Ego. As Batman and Bruce Wayne are two different Jungian archetypes within a single body, Batman: Ego explores their relationship with Batman being the uncontrollable rage; the id, while Bruce Wayne being the rational one; the super-ego.
Though Bruce Wayne is still an acolyte when it comes to crimefighting, he must have had fought a number of criminals in Gotham, considering that the city is filled with them to its brim. Each criminal Batman fights, his rage keeps growing to make him more animalistic in nature. Like all the animals Cobain trapped underneath that bridge, Batman’s mind has also trapped some of the deadliest creatures of Gotham. And now, they have become his pets, as Batman sometimes gets too comfortable with his own rage, as shown in the trailer when he ruthlessly beats down a low-level criminal even after knocking him down.
As the fifth line of the song approaches, it symbolizes Batman’s helplessness as he keeps grasping at straws in his fight against crime, at this moment, against the Riddler. As the Riddler drops a bunch of clues while leaving a trail of bodies in his path, Batman has to race against time to protect the people of Gotham. As The Batman is going to be a detective-noir movie where Se7en meets Chinatown, catching the Riddler is easier said than done.
As the song reaches ‘But it’s okay to eat fish’, the symbolism gets truly dark and haunting due to its multiple meanings. In the comics, the Penguin is the only sane member of Batman’s rogue gallery which has resulted in a unique relationship between the two. On various occasions, Batman has visited Penguin’s club known as Iceberg Lounge to extract information.
If the trailer is to be believed, the Riddler seems like an unhinged character with sinister objectives. Desperate to catch him, the young Batman might form an unlikely alliance with the Penguin which can result in a few casualties in the way.
The second interpretation is Biblical in nature. On Good Fridays, meat is usually avoided as a part of the fasting ritual. But, fish is considered to be fit for consumption as it’s not a warm-blooded animal. In The Batman‘s context, there might be instances where Batman can cross the line and kill criminals in a fit of rage. As Batman has already shown his uncontrollable rage in the trailer during the brutal beatdown, it’s a possibility that can make the movie much darker.

Written by Akash Senapati

Akash is an India-based writer who has previously worked with Quirkybyte and Xtrascoop. He loves DC Comics, Anime, Pink Floyd, and sleeping in no particular order. His favourite graphic-medium writers are Grant Morrison, Chris Claremont, Christopher Priest, Garth Ennis, and Eiichiro Oda. Prep time > Aliens.

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