Filipino American stunt coordinator Robert Alonzo spoke with NextShark about reinventing Batman’s fighting style in Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz.
“Matt and myself really wanted to keep things super grounded and real, so we didn’t want his style to be perfect,” Alonzo said.
“We want it to be very human, having him put himself in a position where he makes mistakes,” he added. “He doesn’t have superhero abilities, but he does have a very high threshold for pain, but it’s not an inhuman amount.”
The stunt choreographer explained that the design of the iconic DC Comics character’s suit also played an integral part in differentiating Pattinson’s action style from those of previous Batman stars. Older suits featured a cowl and a cape that would restrict movement, he notes.
“We really wanted him to be able to turn his head and see opponents from all different sides quicker, as opposed to turning on a turret from his hip,” he said.
Alonzo’s passion for animation and martial arts
Alonzo, who worked on both the creative design and execution of action scenes in “The Batman,” revealed, “I never wanted to be a stuntman. It was never my goal.”
He shared that his passions are in both animation and martial arts. Alonzo went to college to study animation and filmmaking and upon graduation worked for an ad agency to direct commercials, but he found himself constantly returning to his love for martial arts. With some encouragement from his grandmaster, Alonzo started training and teaching at a popular martial arts school among people who worked in the film industry. It was there he met a producer who invited him into the business.
“I was a martial artist, so [I] was perfect for the part,” Alonzo said. “I didn’t audition for it. I literally just walked into my grandmaster’s dojo where I was teaching and [a producer] goes, ‘We need somebody. Someone got hurt. Can you fill in?’”
“I realized that having a film background plus a martial arts background kind of lent itself to designing action,” he added. “But then, I went beyond that, because I wanted to become the best stuntman.”
Alonzo’s long list of credits dates back to 1996 when he served as a stunt double on television show “Nash Bridges.” His resume has since gone on to include stunt and fight scene work on J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek,” Brad Bird’s “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” among countless other movies and series.
Over the course of his career, Alonzo has also managed to become a professional stunt driver, sky diver and scuba diver.
“Once I got the opportunity to expand stunt coordinating into designing action sequences from the ground up, taking the words off the page and elevating what the words are and really turning it into something real, it went back to my roots of my desire of telling stories through visual images back when I was a kid.”