The Batman

The Batman

★★★★★

The Batman is back! We have another reboot of the notable DC superhero, this time with Matt Reeves in the driving seat as director of this reboot. 

This time Robert Pattinson portrays the titular caped crusader who protects this very dark and gritty iteration of Gotham. Pattinson is supported by a stellar and compelling cast that have all made some iconic characters their own. This cast includes Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Colin Farrell as Penguin, Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, Paul Dano as The Riddler, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone and long time collaborator of Reeves, Andy Serkis, plays the loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth.

The cast of this film was well documented and had already built a lot of hope and hype for this Batman reboot, and it really did not disappoint. Most notably, every character was very authentic, unlike the various previous interpretations we’ve seen of them. A super impressive feat when you consider how well established some of these personalities are amongst the DC canon and filmography. 

Robert Pattinson is outstanding – his sulky and emo demeanour is perfect for a Bruce Wayne who is dealing with the recent death of his parents. In many ways, this is a coming of age story for Batman, as this features the best growth of the dark knight that we’ve seen within one film. This is the core reason this is such a fantastic reboot, and it’s hard to imagine anybody other than Pattinson being able to pull that off.

At the end of this film, there are many little touches that exhibit the character’s arc, this includes the use of ‘I’m Vengeance‘ dialogue triggering Batman to risk his life, and also how Gotham’s population accept and follow Batman out of the stadium whilst he’s holding a flare – demonstrating he is no longer in the shadows but instead carrying the light. His motivation to improve and clean up Gotham is commendable, and it’s a cause that tackles the problematic task of relating and empathising with the super-wealthy Bruce Wayne. 

Another success of The Batman is the twist of Selina Kyle being the daughter of the powerful underground gangster Ermine Falcone. Personally, I’ve never been the biggest fan of the character, but this iteration was so engaging as her ties to the criminal underground gave her a ruthless trigger happy edge but still had an emotional side that was her driver, which she demonstrated when her friend Annika goes missing. This is a great dynamic that adds a lot of depth to Catwoman.

Unsurprisingly, Paul Dano totally triumphed as the Riddler and recreated the enigmatic and unhinged character that we’ve seen from him previously. This trademark performance suits this variation of the Riddler down to the ground, and it’s not startling to read Matt Reeves wrote this Riddler with Dano in mind. This Riddler is more Zodiac Killer with a sprinkling of Jigsaw than a leotard donning Edward Nygma that we saw in Batman Forever, but it’s such an original and ominous take it feels very refreshing in a time where superhero movies fatigue exists. In particular, when he has an exchange with Batman in prison, Dano gives us a fantastic performance. He is a genius character who has, up until this point, carried out his plan of destruction perfectly whilst maintaining this unpredictable and menacing disposition. However, he subtly demonstrates his mistake when he concedes he hasn’t quite figured out Batman and Bruce Wayne are one. 

Another twist that lines up an intriguing future direction for the Riddler is his interaction with his cellmate, a cameo by a giggling Barry Keoghan. Keoghan’s cameo confirms the rumours that he will be taking on the role of Joker and is one of the big talking points of this film. Personally – I would prefer another movie to further develop this Gotham and this Batman before seeing the Joker. It feels like Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker was only released recently, so the correct move will be to perhaps introduce Joker in the third instalment of this Batman. I appreciate Joker is a big pull, and commercially, he’d make Batman an even more considerable success, but the beauty of Gotham and the Batman universe is the depth of absurd villains. Reeves pulled a masterstroke by making the Riddler and Penguin so authentic and original, and there are many more DC villains he could work the same magic on; that’d be a trickier thing to do with the Joker, especially with Phoenix’s version still feeling fresh.

Reeves’ Gotham is very immersive and original; I love it. It’s so dark, even by Batman standards, and there is a hell of a lot of rain. The scenery is bleak and atmospheric but includes a hint of bright neon here and there that reflect off the puddles. The palette of The Batman consists of primarily black, grey, and the red that we’ve seen throughout all of the promotion posters – again, this is to reinforce that this is Reeves’ version of Gotham by differentiating it from the rest. 

The biggest challenge of this Batman was not regurgitating the same story we’ve seen dozens of times and producing an original movie that felt refreshing in a very saturated genre. This demonstrates that superhero movies don’t need to involve supergalactic CGI heavy threats to be good. In fact, to be the best, it needs to contain an authentic, immersive world that has a diverse collection of well-developed characters. The Batman crossed genres; it is a crime drama/psychological thriller/disaster movie that includes well-known superheroes, but as you’ve never seen them before. Reeves and the whole cast absolutely triumphed, and it’s so pleasing to have a Batman universe that provides genuine excitement again. 

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