Batman isn’t my superhero. I didn’t grow up watching his animated series like so many others my age and lack the nostalgic feelings from the Tim Burton films. I grew up a Superman child and earned my comic book wings watching Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. So when a new Batman film was announced, I wasn’t necessarily jumping for joy. I was soon won over by what could be the best Batman movie to date.
Not that I don’t enjoy them, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight will always be one of my favorites. But unfortunately, DC’s track record with its films hasn’t been great in the past few years. Plus, how many times can one reboot a character without feeling like they are trampling similar fields? (looking at you MGM)
For weeks I dragged my feet about seeing the latest Batman film. However, this past week I finally decided to go to the theaters and see it. I settled into my seat and prepared myself for a three-hour jam-packed adventure that would leave me disappointed, and I must say I walked out impressed.
Did you see that movie? It was epic! Talk about a break-neck murder mystery film, whose focus wasn’t on who did it, but instead of why and how to stop him. I was in awe of the scope of the film and found myself daydreaming about the impact of his film and where the sequel could go. So what made The Batman the best Batman movie to date? (in my humble opinion anyway) It seems like the key is doing something we haven’t seen done before.
Breaking the Batman Mold
The first thing that struck me about this film was how this new Batman movie was incredibly different from any past film iterations of Batman. Unlike the previous films, this was a Batman film first and foremost. Gone was the balance between Bruce Wayne and Batman, which felt refreshing.
You get this feeling that Batman is Bruce’s (Robert Pattinson) entire life, throwing himself into crime-fighting without the playboy antics. In the few scenes that we do see Bruce outside the suit, he almost feels awkward, which seemed by design. This version is more comfortable taking down villains instead of taking home women.
This new iteration also provides a version of Batman that is very early into his career as the masked vigilante. While we did see a young Bruce/Batman in Batman Begins, Christan Bale felt more polished and established.
However, Pattinson’s Batman was shown to have flaws, both intellectually and in his combat throughout the film. He seemed to always be one step behind Paul Dano’s Riddler, which I never remember the other Batman’s being. As well, there were a few points in combat where he became overwhelmed by the henchmen, falling down and having to recover. Together, this made Batman feel more relatable to the audience, with the psychology indicating that attractive people become more attractive and relatable when they are shown to have flaws like everyone else.
Real World and Noir Vibes
Something that Matt Reeves did well was grounding this film in a way that I haven’t seen before in a DC film. While DC has mastered the dark and gritty world, in large part due to Tim Burton and Zack Snyder, the films still felt larger than life in their comic book adaptations.
The Batman felt like it could exist in our world, with The Riddler feeling like a serial killer ripped from the headlines. Even characters like Batman himself, Penguin (Colin Farrell), and Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), who still felt representative of their comic book counterparts didn’t feel ridiculous in the real-world setting.
Because of this, the film felt scarier and grittier than anything else I have seen from DC and Warner Brothers. There were times I felt myself holding my breath and looking around the theater as if The Riddler could be seated among us.
Adding to the intensity of the film were the noir aspects reminiscent of early detective films from Hollywood. This easily could fit in with Dick Tracy and other noir films, showing the underbelly of large cities, similar to how this new film does with Gotham.
Final Thoughts on The Batman
It seems that DC does some of its best films when they think outside the connective universe. Joker, while I haven’t seen it, was given incredible praise for its style and direction. The Batman does the same thing.
It is its own story and isn’t concerned about being anymore more than what it is. Instead, we get a deep dive into the many characters, exploring the shades of gray that exist in everyone. It took a larger-than-life character, like Tony Stark, and brought him down in an approachable way for the general audience.
Together, we solved the puzzles and traveled through the dark into the unknown. I connected with this Batman film in ways that I haven’t with the others and I suspect that others felt the same way. For more thoughts and deeper analysis of this film, check out Tucker Watkins’ or Alex Perez’s Review, or Tucker Watkins’ exploration of characterization in the film.
The Batman is currently in theaters. Did you see this movie in theaters? How did you feel about it? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @mycosmiccircus.