Yiwei He | Illustration Editor
The most recent adaptation of Batman shows the character fueled by the grief and psychological terrors he encounters in just his second year fighting crime.
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Despite living in a world that is oversaturated with the magnitude of superheroes in popular culture, no superhero has had their story retold more than Batman. Director Matt Reeves chooses to depict his Batman as one who is learning how to be more than just a vigilante with pointy ears.
Robert Pattinson’s Batman is fueled by grief and the psychological terrors of his job. While his Batman may appear to be stoic and calculated in the suit, under the mask is a man consumed by fear and loneliness who can’t be bothered to maintain order in his life. This isn’t a Batman who enjoys being Bruce Wayne, but instead one who loathes it.
Pattinson’s Wayne is in just his second year on the job, and he’s already wilting under the pressures of both his life and fighting crime. This Batman would benefit from therapy, and the darkness of Pattinson’s portrayal bleeds out a man struggling to balance both the rage and the righteousness of his mind. This Wayne isn’t cool, calm and collected. He’s reclusive, inexperienced and confused on how to bring justice and morality to society when he himself has only known an amoral world.
Consumed by living within the shadows, Pattinson’s Batman speaks less than any Batman I can remember. However, his lack of dialogue doesn’t mean he isn’t being heard. Pattinson tells a lot in his Batman portrayal, whether it’s the use of the simplest movements from his gangly, awkward frame or his broken eyes. This is a Batman who embraces the weirdness and creepiness of the character while still having the prestige needed to enamor respect from allies and enemies.
“The Batman” is as much a murder mystery detective film as it is a superhero movie. Reeves chooses to set his Batman in the landscape of a grungy neo-noir film rather than the traditional superhero spectacle. The film clearly takes inspiration from David Fincher’s serial killer movies, like “Zodiac” and “Se7en,” along with ‘70s murder mystery thrillers like “The French Connection.” Although Batman does get plenty of time to use his gadgets and beat up bad guys, the film has a clear interest in the detective work of Batman compared to the ass-kicking part.
The detective work begins with the death of the mayor, along with a crime scene left behind by the Riddler (Paul Dano), which includes a cipher for Batman and a severed thumb. The Riddler’s clues lead Batman and Lieutenant Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) on a chase to figure out the reasoning for the mayor’s murder and how it relates to a web of corruption that entangles the city’s leaders and its mob underground.
The movie thrives as one that can create an electrifying, gripping sequence, but also ground itself in realism and emotional stakes. Part of the problems with Ben Affleck’s Batman was how the lack of realism in those movies created a character that was both outmatched and distant. (Also, the movies were mediocre.) “The Batman” fixed that problem by separating the caped crusader from the rest of the DC Extended Universe, which places Batman in a world without superpowers and one that is almost relatable to the world we currently live in.
Reeves’ film also benefits from a stellar supporting cast. Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman oozes charisma, intrigue and sexuality. Kravitz excelled in expressing layers to a character that became memorable the moment she appeared on screen. Dano creates a twisted, demented performance as the Riddler, who orchestrates fear that encapsulates both the characters and the audience alike, while Colin Farrell looks unrecognizable in his Alan Dershowitz cosplay to play the always entertaining Penguin.
“The Batman” is enhanced by stellar work on the technical side. It’s clear the amount of detail that went into the production, with much of the camera work looking pristine and quite creative. It’s arguably the best looking Batman movie, and cinematographer Greig Fraser does wonders to create a stunning and memorizing picture.
There are not many superhero films that are as dark and twisted yet captivating as “The Batman.” It would have benefited from being about 20 minutes shorter, but the strength of the cast allows the film to not feel drawn-out. Although the movie may be divisive for viewers looking for action rather than a murder mystery character study, Reeves and Pattinson succeed with creating a new template that is certainly enjoyable till the very end.
Published on March 6, 2022 at 9:32 pm