The Batman is the sort of dark and gritty Batman film that fans of Gotham’s greatest detective should appreciate. Although it took me a little while to get into this nearly three-hour cinematic showcase, the film is ultimately a multi-layered detective noir meets action movie that might just be one of the best Batman flicks to date.
In the beginning of the film, we are greeted with a voice over by Robert Pattinson (who portrays Batman/Bruce Wayne) explaining why he does what he does as Batman. This was a little off putting to me because it felt as though the movie was telling me what Batman is instead of just showing me. I suppose if someone has never watched a Batman film or read a Batman comic, an introduction like this might be necessary, but finding someone who fits that category is going to be rare and far between.
Furthermore, I don’t think that this film was made for that sort of person. The Batman is a true Batman fan’s movie as it shows him in a role that we haven’t really seen before in films, which is Batman as a detective. This, of course, is a return to his origins in Detective Comics, and is where the real film noir feel of this movie comes into play as we see Batman teaming up with Lieutenant Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) to solve a series of murders perpetrated by a mysterious Riddler (Paul Dano).
Paul Dano as The Riddler
The Riddler isn’t a character that I’m super well-versed in and I mostly know him from the tv series Gotham (a show I loved, btw). He’s also felt like more of a second-string sort of supervillain in Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery, easily defeated and perhaps a little bit silly. The Batman, however, elevates the character of The Riddler to an entirely new level, as a truly dark and twisted nature is revealed to viewers and is perfectly and eerily portrayed by Dano.
Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman and Robert Pattinson as Batman
Another excellent character portrayal which I would be remiss not to mention is Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Not only did she have the perfect look physically, but the way she moved, spoke, and emoted felt pretty spot-on to the comic book version of the character to me. I love Michelle Pfeiffer, and Anne Hathaway was fine, and Halle Berry just had a terrible script, but Kravitz’ portrayal feels like the most authentic Selina/Catwoman that we’ve seen on film. The only thing that I would change is her mask, which was basically just a ski mask.
As for Pattinson, I genuinely enjoyed him as Batman, and he certainly has the jawline for the mask. As Bruce Wayne, however, I had a really difficult time separating him from his Edward Cullen character in Twilight. He was sullen and withdrawn, and the black eyeliner that he wore with that Batman mask (which he never seemed to wash off right away when he removed said mask) paired with his long, messy hair that was constantly in his face gave him more the look of a goth vampire wannabe than the wealthy, enigmatic business owner that we normally see Bruce Wayne as. However, in the beginning of the movie we are told that this is a young Bruce/Batman, as the film takes place during only his second year since donning the Bat-cape. His focus is only on vengeance, not Wayne Enterprises or philanthropy, and he’s even referred to as being a recluse. This means that the Bruce side of this dichotomous character still has a lot of room to grow, should Pattinson reprise the role in future films (which, rumor has it, is the plan).
Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Something else that I really enjoyed about The Batman relates back to the fact that this is only Batman’s second year, which means that we see him making mistakes. Normally, superheroes are shown as overly clever with perfectly timed physical skills, but that’s not entirely the case here as we see Batman make a few miscalculations throughout the film. I thought that was refreshing, and also sensible given that he’s still relatively new to vigilantism.
As I mentioned earlier, the movie is nearly three hours long, which is a long time to ask an audience to sit in a theater with no breaks. For the most part, however, the film didn’t feel long to me. I think part of that was due to the soundtrack, which is an all-instrumental score that builds suspense and foreboding throughout the movie as Batman and Gordon follow leads that take them down unexpected paths. I also feel as though this film is really meant to be viewed in a theater. There are some really cinematically complex fight scenes, as well as a car chase between Batman and The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot (portrayed by Colin Farrell, whom I did not recognize at all thanks to the superb makeup job) that felt very realistic.
Ultimately, the dark vibe and violent feel of The Batman, paired with the truly diabolical nature of The Riddler and the visible inner torment that Batman is struggling with throughout, really elevates this film to a new level not before seen in Batman movies. I don’t know if I can say that this is my favorite Batman movie ever, but I am admittedly extremely biased towards The Dark Knight due to the fact that Heath Ledger was my favorite actor of all time. Still, it’s refreshing to see a different take on such a familiar and venerated character, and the fact that there’s real room for growth in this franchise means that I will be excited to see future films.
Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.