The Batman is a perfect film, Well Almost
By David Gomez
The Dark Knight is back at it again with another big screen revival in 2022’s The Batman. Directed by Matt Reeves (famed for his work on the 2010’s Planet of the Apes Trilogy) the film looks to take the caped crusader and his world into a much darker, grittier and more realistic light than even the Dark Knight Trilogy (Directed by Christopher Nolan).
In this latest installment, Batman/Bruce Wayne is played by Robert Patterson, of the infamous Twlight saga. But, how does this darker interpretation of Batman hold up to all the rest? Well it’s…complicated.
The film has seemingly won over many critics and audiences, some saying it rivals the Dark Knight Trilogy and some calling it a masterpiece, yet others say the film is clunky, lacking in various areas, or is plain boring.
An Almost Perfect Batman Movie
The Batman certainly has a lot going for it in terms of story, characters, atmosphere and its overall theme. Robert Patterson’s adaptation of the Batman is quite phenomenal. He truly is the “Dark” Knight, lurking in the shadows at every turn. This version of Batman really understands what makes for an intimidating character, for not only are the villains of Gotham afraid of him, but so are the viewers. Adding to this is the incredible score done by Michael Giacchino and the film’s atmosphere, truly hammering the gothic feel of Gotham City.
The villains also get some good treatment here, too. The Riddler has finally been done justice, because unlike his zany, over the top performance played by Jim Carry in 1995’s Batman Forever, in this movie he’s an unpredictable masochist with a moral agenda in mind, to expose Gotham’s most corrupt villians: its politicians.
By the end of the film one not only feels bad for the Riddler, but the viewer also kind of agrees with him. The viewer can understand why he is the way he is unlike Joel Schumacher’s version of the Riddler. The film also dives into the idea of how Batman’s actions have a negative effect on Gotham as opposed to a purely positive one and how he needs to change to be more than just vengeance, something overlooked in most Batman movies.
Finally it’s worth noting that this superhero film isn’t really a superhero movie, it’s a mystery/thriller with some really awesome action sprinkled throughout. It really explores what makes Batman the world’s greatest detective, but it also shows that he’s not perfect at it either, with the the Riddler outsmarting him on multiple occasions creating an intriguing, albeit intense rivalry.
With all of these elements in mind however there are a lot of elements that hamper the film from being a masterpiece. While Pattison makes for a great Batman he doesn’t make for a very compelling or interesting Bruce Wayne especially when you compare it to say, The Dark Knight Trilogy or Batman Mask of The Phantasm. Batman’s butler and confidant, Alfred is also lacking in the way of character development. Played by Andy Serkis he doesn’t get much screen time and his relationship with Batman is severely stunted, which takes away one the best aspects of not just a Batman movie, but entire The Batman franchise.
Commissioner Gorden is unfortunately no different, feeling more like an expository piece rather than a full fledged character. Finally, while the film’s darker and edgier tone aids the film greatly, it also becomes the film’s greatest flaw, for there are almost no other emotions expressed than anger, sadness, gluttony and fear.
To better understand what makes this movie almost perfect, we need to delve into spoiler territory. This is a film where Batman almost loses and the Riddler almost wins. As stated before, Batman’s tense relationship with the Riddler was easily the film’s greatest highlight.
By the end of the film, the Riddler is locked up and sent to Arkham Asylum, all’s well that ends well right? No. The film cleverly set the final clue that Batman had been missing from the very beginning and from this we learn the villain’s true intent—to blow the cities water dams and flood Gotham all to make a statement to Gotham’s rich and powerful, but also to make a name for himself.
The film comes to a head when Batman has to save the new mayor and the people from drowning and this is where the film also excels in its theme of change. Batman has always been a symbol of justice and vengeance, but nothing more outside of those two words and the film acknowledges this idea.
When he’s fighting one of the Riddler’s followers, the crook mocks Batman by saying he is vengeance, he is justice. This was a chilling moment, no other villain in a Batman movie outside of Heath Ledger’s Joker from the Dark Knight Trilogy, mocked him like this. But unlike in those movies, by the end of the film Batman finally realizes that he can’t be just vengeance, he must also be a symbol for hope, too.
The start of the film showed Batman stepping out of the darkness, seeking justice on the wrong sides of Gotham’s streets, but by the end he helps the people out of a flooded building with a flare symbolizing hope and the visual of a rising sun rather than a dawning one.
The film tackles a lot of ideas that have never really been explored in Batman lore, but have only been touched upon.The Batman opts not to ignore these themes and delves deeper into them, using it to give us one the best depictions of the character yet.
This Batman still needs a lot more time to grow and thankfully we’ll be seeing more of this version of the caped crusader in the near future.