“The Batman” Leaps into Action, Saving the Superhero Blockbuster


Courtesy of https://www.cnet.com/culture/entertainment/the-batman-movies-ranked-robert-pattinson-the-dark-knight-christopher-nolan/

JD Jones, Arts & Entertainment

Batman is arguably the most famous superhero in all of pop culture. From his escapades in the comics to his adventures on the silver screen, the Caped Crusader has racked up an impressive reputation. Now, director Matt Reeves offers the latest cinematic experience with this character, simply titled, “The Batman”! Starring Robert Pattinson as the titular character, the film follows his efforts to catch the Riddler (played by Paul Dano), a serial killer who is leaving mysterious clues at the murder scenes of Gotham City’s elite officials. Assisting him is Lt. James Gordon (Jeffery Wright) of the GCPD and Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), who has her own personal score to settle. Complicating things are crime bosses Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) and the Penguin (an unrecognizable Colin Farrell), who hold crucial intel. The film released on March 4th, and has so far exceeded box office expectations! Critically, the film has done well, with many calling it one of the definitive portrayals of Batman, and many fans on social media have called the film even better than “The Dark Knight” films.

For me, I was super hyped going into “The Batman”, and I can honestly say that it’s probably one of my new favorite comic book films! There’s just so much to love in every aspect! I’ll start with the cast. Robert Pattinson has gone from the star of the “Twilight” movies to fashioning himself quite the extensive and impressive career. “The Batman” is yet another excellent step for him. His acting as Bruce Wayne and Batman makes him one of my favorite actors in the role. Pattinson takes parts of a bunch of the previous actors (like Ben Affleck’s physicality and Christian Bale’s attempts to delve into Bruce Wayne’s psychology), and is able to properly channel them into a totally new performance that also manages to stay true to the comics. His resolve to fight crime, but not kill, is excellently done, and I think Pattinson’s iteration of Batman will, with more time, become the benchmark for all other adaptations!

In addition to Pattinson, the rest of the cast makes a considerable effort in bringing their characters to the big screen. Zoe Kravitz is a more sympathetic, but still interesting Catwoman, who taps into a perfect relationship with Batman. She’s compelling in every scene, and her motives are clearly different from Batman’s which makes their on-again/off-again partnership more interesting. Jeffery Wright is Jim Gordon, one of the few uncorrupted cops on Gotham’s police force. Wright’s low-level intensity is perfect, and I like how he and Batman actually investigate together, side-by-side. Paul Dano plays the Riddler, and he’s downright terrifying. The way he yells, the way he taunts our hero is disturbing, and his intellect makes him a great challenge. Colin Farrell’s Penguin is also used appropriately, and his campy, mob boss personality is blended in seamlessly, providing some fun moments of levity. John Turturro’s character, Carmine Falcone, is a different type of mob character, who plays it straight in how manipulative and sinister he is. He’s most likely going to be the most undervalued asset of the movie,  but he plays a great role in the story.  Finally, Andy Serkis rounds it out as Alfred, Bruce’s butler, and while he doesn’t have too many scenes, the ones he is in are wonderful. The dramatic moments and ultimate reconciliation between the two of them are excellent. 

However, it’s the story that makes “The Batman” one of the best movies of the genre. One of Batman’s many nicknames is “World’s Greatest Detective”, and yet previous iterations of the character have only touched on this lightly. Here, we have a  full blown detective story with punctuated action beats, and it’s glorious. Seeing Batman problem-solve in the muddy waters that is Gotham is so refreshing and makes action sequences like the Batmobile chase or the third act more memorable. Matt Reeves really outdid himself when structuring everything to make his story really feel like an intriguing puzzle to figure out. 

There are several other aspects about the film I like as well! I admire how well-shot and directed it is, as this feels like a true noir-ish film. By comparison, a movie like “Black Widow”, which had the same budget, looks very bland in how it’s shot. “The Batman” utilizes different angles, colors, and style to make a film that looks one of a kind! Composer Michael Giachinno’s music of the film is also excellent. The main theme for the hero is already iconic, but the themes for Selina and the Riddler are also fitting. Finally, I thought that the pacing was excellent. While the movie is three hours long, and I could sometimes feel the length, I was never bored. The central mystery at hand is always compelling, while the character arcs are full of emotional poignancy. It doesn’t need elaborate set pieces to hold your attention throughout, and it proves that you can use a long runtime properly to serve a story, instead of taking simple stories and stretching them out just because.

So far, there are two planned sequels and two HBO Max spin offs for “The Batman”, and all I can say is that I’m super pumped about Batman’s return to the big screen! For so many die hard comic book fans, this is the Batman movie they’ve wanted, and I myself loved every minute of watching this! Am I ready to say it’s the best cinematic version of the character? Almost. A rewatch of “The Dark Knight” will settle that debate. But for right now, I’m sure that “The Batman ” will be remembered as a huge game changer for DC and comic book movie making in general!