“The Batman,” directed by Matt Reeves, is the latest installment into the Batman franchise. As a standalone film, the film exists as its own being, not being bound or dragged back by any specific universe (like Ben Affleck’s rendition of Batman suffered from, in my opinion).
In the last decade, we’ve seen many big-name actors don the cowl, from Christian Bale in “The Dark Knight” trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan to Ben Affleck bringing a new perspective in Zack Synder’s creative universe. Robert Pattinson, however, is the latest to take on the mantle, and as you’ll probably figure out from reading this, the best.
At this point in the article, there will be spoilers; if you haven’t seen the film yet, go buy yourself a ticket and come back here when you’re done watching. I will say that the film expects that you’re going into the theater with some general knowledge of the Batman franchise, so brush up now before reading my take.
“The Batman” is a dark and gritty film that opens up on a dark and stormy Halloween night in the fictional Gotham City, where all Batman films take place. Our protagonist, the young, rich and antisocial billionaire Bruce Wayne narrates his thoughts and what the city needs from him. It is clear from the beginning that this is the most dangerous setting of Gotham we’ve ever seen; not only is crime running rampant, but the city is clearly skeptical of Bruce/Batman from the very beginning. The only person who trusts Batman is Lieutenant Jim Gordan, an investigator for the Gotham City Police Department; their trust in each other is one of the most important ideas in the whole film, showing that Batman has at least one important figure in his corner with a mutual interest in cleaning up the streets.
This Gotham City feels different than past versions, since it doesn’t look like any city in the United States; Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” simply looked like New York or Chicago. Reeves makes sure to include every single small detail to make it feel as unique as possible.
Pattinson’s performance as both Bruce and Batman is incredible; he makes both alter-egos of the character come to life through making them look, sound and feel both antisocial and brooding. Although this movie doesn’t show his parents’ death like most flashbacks in other Batman movies (which is quite refreshing, honestly), the motive of the Wayne family legacy is still an extremely present motif throughout, and Pattinson’s acting shows both the sadness and anger that you would hope from the character.
Other worthy performances of note are those of Zoe Kravitz, who plays Selena Kyle/Catwoman, as well as Paul Dano who plays a modern and incredibly twisted version of The Riddler.
Catwoman is played perfectly by Kravitz, who not only works well as the love interest to Batman, but also as the character of questionable morals who acts on her emotions over what is right. Dano, on the other hand, is the creepiest and most fitting person to take on the role of the Riddler, who leaves a trail of crumbs for Batman to follow the whole movie. The movie was refreshing in this way, since it felt almost like I was watching a true crime/detective movie as opposed to a superhero movie.
This section will have spoilers about the plot. Breaking it down, the movie starts by showing the motives and intentions of the Riddler, and opposingly shows Batman doing his thing cleaning up the streets of any crime. The Riddler’s main goal is to take down Gotham City’s “underbelly,” meaning the corruption inside of the police force, the mayoral candidates and every other department of the local government you might imagine. It is revealed that Gotham is being run by a crime ring headed by Carmine Falcone, who made various deals with Burce Wayne’s late father. Batman must take on two fights at once: the first, putting an end to corruption in the city, and second, stopping the Riddler from taking innocent lives.
I sincerely hope that Reeves and company are aiming to start a sequel to this film, since I can’t get enough of it. I also very much hope that they put a new, dark twist on villains that we have seen in the past, or ones that they have not experimented with as much. As a suggestion, I would say to move past the now-overused Joker and give new enemies like Clayface or even Black Mask a chance on the big screen. There is an entire world of untapped potential and opportunities for DC, and I hope that with another movie or two, they are able to make this happen.
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