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The Batman: not just another Great Batman movie, but a neo-noir masterpiece

By Santiago Brion | March 28, 2022

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The DC Extended Universe: a franchise where superheroes come together to stop Steppenwolf in the DC team up movie, Justice League, and it’s official director’s cut, Zack Snyder’s “Justice League”, the latter being the superior and better version. However, with the mixed critical reception of the movies with only three critically acclaimed works like “Wonder Woman” and “The Suicide Squad,” the franchise is pretty much up in the air.

“The Batman” was originally a solo movie with Ben Affleck’s Batman fighting Deathstroke. Due to personal issues, Affleck dropped out of the project and retired from the character. “The Batman” seemingly wasn’t going to happen until Matt Reeves signed on and came up with his own version of Batman and a brand new story with a different cast.

“The Batman” follows the titular comic book character venturing into the Gotham underworld with the Riddler leaving a trail of murders with cryptic clues. As the case leads close to the Wayne legacy and the killer’s plans become clear, Batman must bring justice for the corruption of Gotham and forge new relationships.

From the first trailer two years ago, I knew that this Batman movie was going to be amazing. I waited with bated breath, and it did not disappoint. The opening sequence perfectly shows the type of mystery that fans and moviegoers were going to see, with Batman’s inner monologue detailing the gritty side of Gotham and the effect that he has had on criminals for the past two years.

The production design of Gotham City shows how much of the dirty cesspool it is. The grungy and gothic feel of the city feels like if Nirvana and Tim Burton’s Batman had a baby. The beatdown at the train station with Batman and the group of guys in stupid makeup is what defines Batman. Same with when Batman and Penguin had a car chase in the rainy streets and the batmobile comes out of a blaze of fire and hits Penguin’s car, making him the most intimidating guy in those scenes. All of that is accompanied by its brilliant score.

With every Batman movie, there’s always a great score. Danny Elfman for Tim Burton’s Batman, Hans Zimmer for “The Dark Knight Trilogy” and now Michael Giacchino for “The Batman.”

During the crime scene with the mayor’s murder, it perfectly shows the detective side of Batman, which is what I’ve wanted to see in a live-action Batman movie. You actually see Bruce doing actual detective work like looking through crummy files and solving Riddler’s clues. I like how Batman observes people while making himself the most intimidating guy in a room full of Gotham City Police officers while also experiencing depression and trauma.

While it could be argued that there was not enough Bruce Wayne in the movie, it’s only his second year as Batman, and so, he has yet to figure out how to balance living up to his family’s inheritance and being a vigilante. Bruce becoming Batman is a way to hide his trauma from when he saw his parents die when he was only a child. He’s not sure yet on how to be more productive as a young billionaire. During the third act, Batman saves people including the newly-elected Mayor, Bella Real, who were underneath the debris at Gotham Square Garden while the city’s being flooded after Riddler blows up the seawalls surrounding the city. During that moment, he realizes that he has to be a hero and a protector of Gotham.

As far as the question, “Is Robert Pattinson the best Batman?” goes, it might even come to a close second. Kevin Conroy is the classic voice of Batman in “Batman: The Animated Series” and the Arkham games, Michael Keaton is a classic Bruce/Batman who had the billionaire charm and iconic batsuit to spare, but was underdeveloped because of the franchise’s shift in directors, and Christian Bale is a fully-developed Bruce Wayne/Batman. Robert’s Batman is already the best Batman we’ve gotten in years, showing the detective side of Batman was a great decision on Matt Reeves’ part. Underneath the cape and cowl, there’s a sense of depression and trauma that he’s experiencing when doing vigilante stuff.

Colin Farrell as the Penguin only had an estimated 20 min of screen time but he stole the show with his accent and the lines that he was given. To add some comedic levity to the film, he waddled while he was captured by Batman and Gordon.

Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman is the most layered interpretation I’ve seen since Michelle Pfieffer in Batman Returns. She had a tragic past, very nice wigs and outfits and of course, cats.

Andy Serkis’ Alfred Pennyworth was another great interpretation of Bruce’s guardian. I liked every Alfred portrayal, with Michael Caine being my favorite one, but Serkis’ role perfectly shows how much he cares for Bruce and his late father, Thomas Wayne.

Jeffrey Wright as Jim Gordon had a lot to live up to after Gary Oldman’s spot on portrayal in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Wright’s Gordon was the perfect partner for Batman when solving crimes; he also had pretty great lines as well.

Paul Dano as the Riddler was terrifying. Underneath the kling wrap, and when he’s not at crime scenes, he’ll chill you to the bone. When he does eventually get caught however, his conversation with Batman is one of the most riveting scenes I’ve ever seen. The delusional grandeur of Batman and Riddler being a duo is the epitome of how conversations of Batman with psychotic villans always turn out. I like the zodiac killer inspiration behind Edward Nygma rather than the classic look of him wearing a green suit and holding a cane.

I liked that the subplot with the bat and the cat connected to the main plot of Batman and Gordon finding out why the Riddler is killing these important people of Gotham City. The partnership between Batman and Jim Gordon was better than Batman and Catwoman and here’s why. Batman and Gordon have been working together for quite awhile and it shows when looking at a rat maze with “Riddler” cyphers. Batman and Selina Kyle/Catwoman only had an attraction rather than genuine chemistry.

As much as I wanted an R-rated Batman movie, I didn’t mind the PG-13 rating, I think it works here. It truly pushes the MPAA rating to the limit. With every incredible depth-of-field shot, the blood is blurred out in beautiful fashion. While I prefer blood actually being seen in a Batman movie, regardless, it was still a well-told and mature comic book movie. Even with a movie that is three hours long, it never feels too long. Every tense and shocking moment was some of the most perfectly paced stuff I’ve seen in a superhero movie.

Do you need to watch other Batman movies to get ready for “The Batman?” Not necessarily, but if you want to get to know this comic book character, I would suggest watching “Batman: The Animated Series.”

“The Batman” was a skillfully crafted, well-told, beautifully shot psychological crime thriller. Every performance was incredible, every shot was satisfying, the relationships that Batman has is what defines him.


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