“The Batman”: Superhero Movies Aren’t Cinema, But This Is


Source: Den of Geek

Will Teare

Director: Matt Reeves

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffery Wright, John Turturro, with Andy Serkis and Colin Farrell 

Release Date: March 4, 2022

Rating: 5/5

Superhero movies/TV have made me tired. It’s actually becoming a problem. Will I watch them? Opening day. Will I stop doing that? Not anytime soon. Am I starting to think all the TV shows and movies have become more like homework and only exist to hold us over for another payoff 5 years from now? Yes, more and more with each day, actually. The streets and alleyways of big IP comic book adaptations get lined with more and more garbage. The rain downpours and the humidity brings the trash to filth… filth that emanates through this city like a virus. Makes me sick. Makes everyone sick, and there is no cure. When I look to the heavens for help, I see no men of steel, no women of wonder. So I look down, I look to the shadows. Then, it emerges, he emerges. The Batman

After two years of being the caped crusader, Batman is faced with a string of brutal serial killings by a man only known as “The Riddler.” With the assassinations uncovering dark truths about the city of Gotham, the Wayne family, and an even more sinister endgame, The Batman must take to the streets and solve the mystery before it’s too late. 

Before The Batman, I wasn’t at all familiar with Matt Reeves’s filmography. So I made sure to take the time to do a little research into his roots as a wannabe Hal Ashby, then his transformation into blockbusters with the megahit Cloverfield and two entries of the new Planet of the Apes trilogy. I have found myself remarkably taken with him. I love that his roots of trying to find genuine humanity in drama have informed his career as a very successful franchise filmmaker. Additionally, unlike most IP filmmakers, he’s unafraid to put the camera in daring places, and, maybe my favorite quality, he knows how to be silent. Silence, both in the sense of just plain visual storytelling or a creative choice to have no dialogue for a comedic or dramatic effect. The Batman takes all of those great qualities and brings them to the max. Reeves is able to touch on the inherently ridiculous (caped) crusade of Batman but simultaneously give it real, tangible weight with genuine consequences. 

“I don’t know if Robert Pattinson is the right choice for Batman,” is a sentence I’ve heard too much. It tells me two things: 1. You’ve never seen anything he’s done after Twilight, and you’re missing out. 2. You are not ready for what quality you’re going to get. 

Mr. Pattinson is unbelievable, and I put him with Kevin Conroy and Adam West as the most outstanding performances as Batman. His is certainly the most nuanced of all interpretations. He is extremely capable of tackling the complicated throughline of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Meaning Pattinson finds the line between being a kind of a sociopath with a dangerous and unhealthy bloodlust and being, at his core, a scared seven-year-old boy that can’t escape from what happened in Crime Alley. His only solace lies in beating up low-level thugs for better and worse. It’s that very topic that is a core element of The Batman, and the film does a great job addressing and building upon that same issue. 

As for the supporting cast, it’s an almost ridiculous amount of talent. John Turturro (Carmine Falcone) is once again gracing us with his presence. Colin Farrell (Penguin) is an entirely new person in one of the funniest performances I’ve seen in a minute. Reeves collaborator Andy Serkis returns as Alfred Pennyworth, who has fewer scenes than expected but maybe the most heartfelt ones. Everyone knocks it out of the park with whatever amount of time they have; they’re talented performers and movie stars. 

The supporting cast I really have to talk about are Zoë Kravitz, Jeffery Wright, and Paul Dano. Zoë Kravitz is maybe my favorite Catwoman/Selina Kyle interpretation. To keep it brief, she’s less Catwoman and more cat burglar, less for pleasure and more out of necessity, which fits quite well. Then there’s Jeffery Wright’s Lt. Gordon, who had good chemistry with Batman, although he didn’t have a ton to do. I genuinely believe he’s the last truly good man in this city, and the respect from both men went both ways. Finally, Paul Dano is absolutely mental, in the best way. It’s easily the most over-the-top performance, but without spoiling, the most frightening part was his characterization. I find his Riddler scarier than most Batman villains because, unlike the others, he could, and in recent years, has been a real person. Overall, I loved the take on Riddler as a Zodiac-like serial killer.

What elevates this movie to near perfection is not the writing (although its use of comedy and subtle self-awareness is an unsung hero of the film) or the Something in the Way needle drop (a perfect tone-setter) or even Pattisons noir-style narration (I can’t believe I’ve lived long enough to see narration in a Batman movie) or even the fact it’s more a detective/crime thriller over everything else. Instead, it’s the genuine talent in the crew/below-the-line production team. Greg Fraser’s gorgeous cinematography gives the color black so much depth and makes bold choices in framing that paid off in spades. Michael Giacchino’s score is genuinely moving and possibly the best I’ve heard since Dune. Don’t even get me started on the production design team. I mean, I can smell Gotham. Picture 70’s New York, like a worst-case scenario city, add some gothic influences here and there…now give it Seattle weather. Welcome to Matt Reeves’ Gotham. Couldn’t dream of better. 

One of the best superhero movies. One of the best Batman stories. But most importantly, a great film. Rating: 5/5