The Batman is one of the most popular superheroes in the world and this new film makes it perfectly clear why that is the case. The Batman is the kind of Batman film fans have wanted for years with a key focus on the detective aspect of the beloved character balanced with brutal action sequences, and a gritty realness to the corruption ingrained in Gotham. Matt Reeves truly seems to understand what has drawn fans to this character for decades and brings to life a story that leans into every element.
The Batman follows the Caped Crusader during his early days as he chases down clues laid out by a murderous Riddler as he tries to stop the madman from killing Gotham’s key political figure. But as Riddler’s game continues to play out across the city secrets and corruption that have hidden under the surface of Gotham for years are finally revealed. Bruce is forced to confront the fact that his own family may be tangled up in the corruption of Gotham and what that means for him and his family’s legacy.
The Batman is a modern noir detective story with the Caped Crusader working to solve a mystery put in place by a psychopathic Riddler. The mystery of Gotham is compelling and dives into corruption and classism in a way that infuses these issues into the very DNA of the city and the main plot.
But part of what is so compelling about The Batman is the fact that this is following the Dark Knight in his early days. He has not yet earned the moniker of The World’s Greatest Detective and it shows, but not in a way that diminishes his intelligence or skills. It simply shows how much he still has to learn. His ingenuity is impressive and following the clues along with him and Gordon is thrilling.
The action is truly impressive with this Batman perhaps being one of the most brutal. The fights are dynamic, visceral, and raw as Batman goes toe to toe with multiple henchman at once more than once in the film. Two action scenes stand out, one as Batman fights off multiple enemies in a pitch-black hallway with the muzzle flash of gunfire being the only light and the other being the truly incredible car chase. The car chase is adrenaline pumping with huge collisions and explosions adding to the insanity.
And while The Batman is a very gritty noir film with elements of horror it still manages to find moments of humor. However, these moments are strategic and character driven. The humor is not included without purpose. Some of this comes from Batman’s lack of experience, still being in his second year as a vigilante, while others come from the inherent ridiculousness of this era. A particular scene stands out as Riddler proves himself to be a horrifyingly familiar social media persona.
THE BATMAN IS NOT AN ORIGIN STORY AND THE CAPED CRUSADER’S ARC IS BETTER FOR IT
The Batman is rare in that it isn’t the origin story of the titular superhero. Audiences know how Bruce Wayne became Batman and because of this the film instead leans into a more interesting journey for the Dark Knight. The Batman focusses on his evolution as Gotham’s protector, discovering what the city truly needs. Although the film is steeped in darkness it proves to be hopeful in the way that Batman inherently is which brings the film to a truly phenomenal conclusion that is surprisingly rare with this character.
Robert Pattinson proves himself to be an outstanding Batman and Bruce Wayne. The brokenness he brings to Bruce who still seems stuck in the trauma of losing his parents is amazing. The intelligence and brutality he brings to Batman is compelling and the duality of these personas is an impressive balancing act, especially as elements of both bleed into each other.
Zoë Kravitz is phenomenal as Selina Kyle bringing an unexpected nuance to the character and infusing her with both strength and vulnerability. Her chemistry with Pattinson is palpable and elevates their dynamic to the next level. Colin Farrell is truly unrecognizable as Penguin bringing a menacing danger to the performance and a gleam of madness that hints at this character’s true potential as a villain. Paul Dano brings the Riddler to life on screen like never before infusing the character with a genius, madness, and desperation that makes him an unexpectedly terrifying character.
The Batman does prove to be a bit overstuffed introducing certain plot points that don’t seem to truly reach a conclusion and some characters, notably Alfred, underserved. With the film clocking in at nearly three hours this isn’t a huge surprise. Some of these plot points may be touched upon later given Reeves’ ambitious plans for a Batverse, but as a stand-alone film these moments may leave audiences wishing for resolution.
Even with how long The Batman is the pacing works extremely well balancing the mystery with heart pumping action and interesting characters. The film brings Gotham to life on screen in a way that is startlingly real especially with the corruption and classism hitting so close to reality. The score is amazing elevating every scene. The attention to detail in The Batman is truly exceptional with one example being a surprisingly ingenious sound design choice that elevates the gravitas of Batman’s entrances throughout the film.
Batman is one of the most beloved characters in the superhero genre steeped in tragedy, impressive intelligence, skills instead of powers, and an extraordinary rogue’s gallery. The Batman leans into every element that makes this character great and brings it to life on screen. The action is visceral, the mystery is compelling, Pattinson’s performance as Batman aka Bruce Wayne is layered, and the classic rogues introduced are striking.
The exploration of corruption and classism ingrained in Gotham adds a layer of reality to the film and the elements of noir and horror make this comic book film stand out amongst so many others. If this is the start of a new corner of DC Matt Reeves has proven why he should be trusted to build it.
The Batman hits theaters March 4, 2022. Are you excited to see The Batman? What do you think of our review? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media and check back with The Illuminerdi for more DC and The Batman.