The Batman is the latest reboot of the Batman film franchise, directed by Matt Reeves and co-written with Peter Craig. The film was distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures and released in March this year.
As The Batman is not part of the DC Extended Universe, I went into this film expecting something as original and as fresh as a Batman movie can be – and I wasn’t disappointed. As a lifelong DC fan, I’ve always been rooting DC movies despite their less than positive track record and the thunderous success of the MCU.
In the latest iteration, Bruce Wayne/Batman [Robert Pattinson] is a brooding recluse skulking about in his dusty, gothic mansion – you may ask, what’s new there? Well, Wayne Manor is just one location that’s been given a style overhaul. The latest Gotham City seems to be exactly between Tim Burton’s dark, dystopic locale, with its constant steaming pipes and unexpected penguin population, and Christopher Nolan’s more modern, cleaner reimagining. This time, Gotham appears more like it does in the Arkham Series games.
Selina Kyle/Catwoman [Zoë Kravitz] is the obvious love interest, but Kravitz’ Catwoman is one of the better female characters than we’ve seen in a live-action Batman film, possibly ever. The Selina Kyle of The Batman has a level of independence and character development that was sorely lacking in previous iterations. Her morality in the film is seemingly as important as Bruce Wayne’s, and as the whole “no guns” schtick is very much his thing, I found that quite interesting.
Furthermore, The Batman refers to its source material – a lot. There are references to storylines from The Long Halloween (1996-7), Year One (1987), Ego (2000), and Earth One (2012). It’s so much fun when you’re watching a film and it makes you think “yes, I remembered when that happened!” It’s like a little reward when you’ve been so invested in a franchise. The characters are also truer to their comic book comparisons, especially noting Edward Nashton/Riddler’s [Paul Dano] portrayal in contrast to the disaster that was Jim Carrey’s in Batman Forever .
The plot of the film reflected a very key facet of DC that has long been painfully ignored by previous films – the whole detective element of Detective Comics. Leaning into this, The Batman cites New Hollywood era detective films, and this not only provides a solid basis for the structure of the film but allows for control over the style of the film, both visually and thematically. The result of this adaptation amalgamation means The Batman is actually a fairly original reimagining, but it ultimately doesn’t really offer new information to fans, just a new way of being presented the same stories, characters, and mysteries.
Despite this, The Batman is absolutely worth watching, if you haven’t had a chance to yet. It’s entertaining, stylish, and intriguing. I absolutely loved watching it, and I think fans will enjoy seeing this new iteration as a cinematic experience as well as picking it apart afterwards. I also think filmgoers who aren’t particularly into Batman will like it too, because it is a good film. It’s immersive and sophisticated, balancing style with substance. Michael Giacchino also gives Bats a sweet little leitmotif for good measure, and I love a leitmotif.
Final rating: 8.5/10
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