As Alan Bennett’s Prince Regent almost said in The Madness of King George, "Being Batman is not a position. It’s a predicament."

Actors including Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Val Kilmer and (vocally) Will Arnett have all had their turn at being the Bat-person over the past few decades, vying with one another to adopt their gruffest and manliest voice as they fly around dressed as a giant nocturnal mammal. It’s not quite Stanislavsky, but the various award-winning thespians have given it their all. Their mothers, and agents, must be proud.

And now the...

As Alan Bennett’s Prince Regent almost said in The Madness of King George, “Being Batman is not a position. It’s a predicament.”

Actors including Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Val Kilmer and (vocally) Will Arnett have all had their turn at being the Bat-person over the past few decades, vying with one another to adopt their gruffest and manliest voice as they fly around dressed as a giant nocturnal mammal. It’s not quite Stanislavsky, but the various award-winning thespians have given it their all. Their mothers, and agents, must be proud.

And now the youngest of their number, 35-year-old Robert Pattinson, has joined their Bat-ranks. He is the star of Matt Reeves’ much-delayed, much-anticipated new film, snappily entitled The Batman, and has taken on the dual role of Bruce Wayne and Batman with all of the conviction that he has brought to all his previous work.

Whether it’s playing the tormented vampire Edward Cullen in the inexplicably popular Twilight series, the tormented lighthouse keeper Winslow in The Lighthouse or the tormented T.E. Lawrence in Queen of the Desert, you cannot deny either the man’s range or his willingness to absorb psychological strife like a human wet-wipe.

Pattinson’s most notable achievement, after making his name as a heartthrob actor in his twenties, was to move away swiftly from mainstream cinema and its attendant typecasting. His 2012 collaboration with David Cronenberg, Cosmopolis, in which he played a youthful billionaire conducting his life from the back of a limousine, indicated that he was a performer of both intelligence and range.

Once his Twilight responsibilities were behind him, he eschewed the kind of undemanding roles that he might have been offered in favor of working with everyone from Claire Denis and Cronenberg to Werner Herzog and Robert Eggers. Not all the films were successful, and few made any real impact on mainstream cinema, but his commitment to abandoning his vanity was persistently praised. Here, critics breathed, was a Proper Actor, not just a movie star.

The thing about Hollywood, though, is that people who have been movie stars tend to like to carry on doing so. And so, after showing a bit of leg in the big-budget arena with a hugely enjoyable and flamboyant supporting role as a louche secret agent in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, Pattinson has now returned to the type of films that made him famous in the first place.

It would be possible to have grown up idolizing Pattinson in the Harry Potter and Twilight films, ignore everything else he has done for a decade, and now resume one’s interest in him, as the most emotional and vulnerable of Bat-people.

Yet Pattinson’s return to the mainstream is no mere sell-out. Early reviews of The Batman have praised him for his typical commitment and intensity in the role, albeit with occasional horror over his too-liberal use of dark eyeliner. And undoubtedly the opportunity to work with the excellent Reeves had its own appeal.

So while the question of whether Robert Pattinson is, at heart, an indie actor or a mainstream Hollywood star will continue to be debated, we should also concede that he might be both. And then we should expect to enjoy this unorthodox cross-pollination of performance style and movie-star charisma for a long time yet.