The Batman is gorgeous, sophisticated and sombre as it gives fans the most emo take on the dark knight yet, leaning heavily into Bruce’s detective capabilities.
When the first teaser released back in February 2020, DC fans were cautiously excited. It was widely regarded that Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s take on the hero was about as perfect as a Batman trilogy could be.
Furthermore, the recent DC content had ranged from abhorrent messes (Suicide Squad) to intense masterpieces (Joker) so audiences were right to question the risk.
If The Dark Knight trilogy had already given us the best Batman, what was the point in making another that would only fall short? Well, director Matt Reeves proved how needless our worries were…
There isn’t an awful lot of criticism here so let’s get that out of the way. Firstly, the length. Clocking in at just shy of three hours, the film is long. After Batman interrogates the Riddler, you really start to feel it too. While you may need to limit the volume of tango ice blasts you consume, the runtime is in many ways an addition to the film’s grandiose atmosphere.
By watching Pattinson (‘Robbat Battinbat’) for such a time, the audience can truly get a sense of the struggle he endures. Gotham is depicted with extreme detail to great effect, especially the degree to which crime and corruption has consumed it. This helplessness looms over the film and gives Bruce a powerful arch as he realises what type of crimefighter he needs to be. Okay then, maybe the runtime can be overlooked.
The other gripe is more personal to me and it concerns the conclusion of the film – no spoilers, don’t panic.
Gotham is in a bad shape by the time the credits roll and it seemed a shame to me that a lot of the infrastructure will have been ruined. It does set-up some unique stories though so maybe future visits to this Gotham will change my mind.
On to the positives: the cinematography is stunning. There is a shot in the trailer of a coffee shop being lit up by police lights and another in the film of Bruce riding his motorbike through a Times Square-esque setting.
There are countless moments in the movie that could easily be framed and each one culminates to create a gorgeous film.
It’s worth noting the use of simple, primary colours too. Reds, blues and yellows blend with light and seemed as though The Batman was made by a gloomy Piet Mondrian. The attention to detail adds a huge amount of nuance, in particular the subtle moments of levity brought by Pattinson’s performance.
The numerous close-ups of his pearly eyes shows the audience how observant, commanding and calculating Batman can be, it’s subtle but made for some of the funniest and most effective scenes.
The gadgets and tech used throughout felt modern yet classic, pulled from a simpler James Bond era. The bat-suit finds a happy medium between realism and comic book design while the bat-cave is depicted in a new but just as compelling way.
Bruce Wayne is admittedly far less of a flashy playboy than perhaps some fans would like but his reclusive, grungy demeanour is nothing if not realistic considering his lack of sleep.
The aspect I found most fun about this portrayal was how Batman was more nimble and tactical than previous renditions – Ben Affleck had more raw strength for instance. The emblem on his chest is a Batarang and a grappling gun too, his Batmobile is a customised, ragtag chassis of metal that would make Dom Toretto proud.
You can see, through the tech he uses, where Bruce has come from and how he does things on his own terms. As mentioned before, the mystery side of the film is very present and allows for Reeves to showcase a fundamental side of Batman that’s often buried under action set pieces.
The supporting characters are all wonderfully recognised with controlled and fresh performances. Paul Dano plays The Riddler – usually a comic relief character – in a way that makes him sympathetic but terrifying in his mindset and the grounded quality of the plot.
Rather like 2019’s Joker, The Batman pokes holes in a broken system, insinuating that villains are created by those in power and their shortcomings. It brings the grey areas of society to the forefront in a way that only indie, arthouse movies do.
Kravitz makes for a suave and feisty Catwoman who feels like the best aspects of each predecessor rolled into one. She isn’t given much to do but when she’s onscreen, she has a strong, feminine presence. There is also a clear indication that the character is bisexual, a welcomed change that follows recent comic appearances and serves wonders for representation in blockbusters.
Colin Farrell delivers a hilarious and traditional take on The Penguin – yes, that is Farrell somewhere in those prosthetics – and Jeffrey Wright’s James Gordon was surprisingly one of my favourite characters. He’s tough, smart, overtly fatigued and has brilliant banter with the caped crusader.
Finally, the soundtrack. The main theme begins with a triumphant, cheerful ballad with undertones of Bruce’s depression and dark origin story as it transitions to a slow, ominous beat. This simple chord pattern repeats and the tempo continues to rise until a booming crescendo.
Hearing it in the Odeon’s iSense room was unforgettable. The music is quite honestly perfect and although some may take issue with the theme’s repetitive nature, it builds suspense and awe so well.
It encapsulates the doom and mythical quality that The Batman exudes. Michael Giacchino (UP, Spider-Man No Way Home) simply brings his A game.
The Batman, put plainly, is the start of something special.