The Batman In-Depth Review

“The Batman” In-Depth Review
Ladies and gentlemen, we’re back.
It has really been five whole months since I’ve written one of these reviews. Many of my other film and television review projects have been repurposed into podcasts, such as “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “The Book of Boba Fett”, which have become a staple of the paper. I felt however that a single podcast wasn’t enough for this film considering my own immense hype and the insane amount of time it took for this movie to reach the big screen.

This film was originally planned in 2016 with Ben Affleck starring and directing, and now-director Matt Reeves as the writer. With an original release date of March 2018, the film would’ve featured Ben Affleck’s Batman being chased down by Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke whilst protecting his identity and recruiting a new robin in the form of Tim Drake. Of course, the abomination that is Joss Wheaton’s Justice League from November 2017 practically killed the original version of the DCEU and pushed the film’s production to a screeching halt. After half a dozen delays, Ben Affleck left the project altogether and Matt Reeves was given the director’s chair and the job to find a new Batman. Dozens upon dozens of actors auditioned for the role as fans casted every actor under the sun, from Tom Hardy to Dylan O’Brian and even guys like Keanu Reeves. When the final pick to play the caped crusader was revealed, the comic book and batman fan bases lost their collective minds as Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame was pegged to wear the cape and cowl. The decision, much like Daniel Craig’s casting of James Bond back in 2005, was heavily criticized by anyone with an opinion to voice. Yet ironically, just as Craig proved everyone wrong as Bond, Pattinson proved everyone wrong as the big brooder in black.

As of March 29th, 2022, “The Batman” sits at an 85% critics score and an 88% audience score. Those are great scores, and pretty much all the criticism comes from the film’s meaty 177-minute runtime. Now as with any fim not named Citizen Kane or Wizard of Oz, there are some issues with the film, but none of them are big enough to drag the film down in any significant way. I think the long runtime is fine and is mostly necessary to convey the entire story. Sure some scenes could’ve been trimmed down a bit but even then each scene still holds weight. There’s only one real gripe I can give about this film and that’s the lack of scenes with Andy Serkis’s Alfred Pennyworth. The relationship Alfred has with Bruce is crucial to the characters, however I understand why they took this approach. The Alfred/Bruce relationship in this universe is heavily inspired by Geoff Johns’ “Batman: Earth One “ where Alfred is an old war friend of Bruce’s father Thomas and in the wake of his parent’s deaths, he becomes his lifelong bodyguard/butler. “Batman: Earth One” is a great elseworlds re-imagining of the Batman mythos, and I think using some of the characterization from that story for Alfred is great. I just wish he had a little more screen time.

Outside of Alfred’s screen time, I love almost everything else in this film. Robert Pattinson really worked his tail off to shake off the sparkly heartthrob loner vampire reputation he had to play the caped crusader. Both his portrayals of Batman and Bruce Wayne were stellar, with Batman being the obvious standout as, in my opinion, his Batman is perfect for a younger and more inexperienced vigilante. The fear factor of Batman also stands out from the get-go as the second scene in the film is a montage of criminals running around Gotham, seeing the bat-signal in the sky, and crapping their pants whenever they see shadows. It feels ripped straight out of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s “Batman: Year One” in which the criminals of Gotham city are completely petrified with fear anytime they see the bat-signal or any dark shadows. That graphic novel, which could be considered the greatest Batman story ever written, is the primary inspiration for this Batman, Bruce Wayne, and Jeffrey Wright’s stellar Jim Gordon. Wright’s Gordon follows his comic counterpart as the sole good honest cop in the GCPD as the rest of the force is on the take for the mob families of Gotham, and that corrupt GCPD story acts as a through-line for the story of the film, which I’ll go in-depth on in the spoiler section. Zoë Kravitz takes the role of Selina Kyle/Catwoman and runs with it all the way to the finish line. Her character is exactly what you’d expect from Catwoman, but a twist later in the film gives her character a greater depth and tragedy to it, a twist ripped straight from the pages of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s masterpiece “Batman: Long Halloween” which Catwoman and Penguin are inspired by. Colin Ferrell completely transforms himself into Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin and he is genuinely my favorite character in this film. Few characters are perfect in cinema, and I feel like Penguin truly is everything you’d want and expect from him as a character, and he falls into that perfect category. Of course, a film cannot be complete without a primary antagonist, and Paul Dano’s Riddler fills that role fairly well. As mentioned by Matt Reeves, this version of the Riddler is heavily inspired by the infamous zodiac killer, and as such his psychotic and murderous tendencies take center stage although the classic puzzlemaker and supergenius still shines through as Batman has to solve many different riddles and puzzles to uncover his real plan. Riddler’s a great character and a nice foil to this Batman, however I don’t think Paul Dano really gave his best for this role and some of his later scenes have small faults because of it.

“The Batman” is an excellent film. The story is captivating. The Characters are exactly what you’d want from them. The twists and turns along the way don’t feel forced, but earned. They’re not devoid of logic, rather they’re built up from the beginning. This feels just like a Batman comic pulled directly from page to screen. Objectively, this isn’t a better film than “The Dark Knight” but it’s really close. Personally, I prefer it over Nolan’s masterpiece. Both films are on the verge of perfection, but “The Batman” is the dark and gritty noir detective mystery film that I’ve dreamed of seeing since I picked up my 25th anniversary “Batman: The Killing Joke” graphic novel when I was only 9. This is everything I’ve ever wanted from Batman, and I simply cannot recommend this movie enough.

See it now, wait a while, or never touch: See it now (like this instant. Why are you still reading? Watch it. I’ll buy the ticket, just go)

Warning: This is the start of the spoilers section. Do not continue if you wish to experience The Batman with fresh eyes.

Oh yeah, It’s time
Can you tell I’m excited?

There’s a lot I kept secret in the non-spoiler section, and for good reason. Everything I discussed is everything that was shown in trailers and promotional material. I always felt like they were avoiding certain scenes so as to not spoil some of the film, and turns out I was right to be skeptical. Riddler and Penguin aren’t the only villains in this film. John Turturro was cast in this film early in production and no one really knew who he’d be portraying. Turns out, quite surprisingly, he is the man to play infamous crime boss and kingpin of Gotham City, Carmine Falcone. He is arguably the most important character in the film. I touched on a big twist with Catwoman, and that twist is that Falcone took advantage of Selina’s mother while she worked at Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge and Selian was the result. She tries to kill her father before Batman intervenes and arrests him, however Falcone is killed anyway by the Riddler perched from his apartment across the street. He becomes the final direct victim of Riddler and more info is shockingly revealed about Falcone. Not only has he used Thomas Wayne’s renewal fund to become the unofficial mayor of Gotham for 20 years, but he ordered the death of the waynes after Thomas asked him to intimidate a reporter named Edward Elliot, whom had evidence of Martha Wayne’s Arkham heritage and madness, into silence, however Falcone killed the man and Thomas threatened to report the situation to the police. It’s a massive revelation as in most Batman stories, the man who murdered his parents is a random down-on-his-luck criminal named Joe Chill, but this is the first time the whole “mob killed the waynes” story has come to the big screen. I love this twist as it allows Bruce to gain some level of closure on the death of his parents and evolve from an agent of vengeance to a symbol of hope for change in Gotham.

Going back to Riddler, his portrayal in this movie is far more sadistic than almost any other version of the character. Another aspect of “Batman:Earth One” used for this film, this zodiac riddler isn’t a former wayne enterprises employee named Edward Nigma, rather he’s an Orphan named Edward Nashton whose orphanage funded by Thomas Wayne’s renewal fund fell into hardship that scarred Edward for life, and as such his primary goal seems to align with Batman in that he attempts to root out the corruption in Gotham, but of course he takes his forms of justice to the extreme. After murdering Falcone, Nashton sits at a diner and waits to get arrested, which comes soon after Batman and Gordon find his apartment and sees the full underground revolution he’s started. Batman interrogates Nashton at Arkham Asylum and his madness truly begins to show itself as he gives the dark knight a tip that leads back to his apartment. Under the carpet in said apartment is a scaled map of Gotham with seven separate flashing lights. Batman looks out towards the city, seeing bombs going off across the city, as he realizes that Nashton destroyed the Gotham sea wall and flooded the city. Nashton’s followers also attempt to assassinate the new mayor Bella Real, although Batman stops them and saves the destitute survivors in the rally. I absolutely love how they incorporated riddler goons into the movie with Nashton giving his followers links to all his gear from a military surplus site. I really hope they try something similar with future villains and their gangs.

Speaking of new villains, this movie also took some time to foreshadow future antagonists, with Penguin realizing the potential takeover of Falcone’s business and an unseen inmate at Arkham Asylum comforting Nashton in his insanity. It’s pretty obvious to everyone watching the movie that said inmate is indeed the clown prince of crime, the jester of genocide, and the pale man known as The Joker. Played by Barry Keoghan of “Eternals” fame, this joker seems to know batman well already, as shown by the deleted scene in Arkham where the two meet to discuss the riddler. That scene is a beautiful representation of the relationship between both men, although its place in the story is up for debate. I’m stoked to see this new joker, but I hope he’s more of a secondary antagonist rather than the main villain of another film so others like Hush, Ra’s Al Ghul, and Bane can take the spotlight.
This movie is just so good. It delivers on every front for a Batman film that I’ve desired to see. I know my last review for “Marvel’s Eternals” was pretty scathing and this was the complete opposite, but trust me this movie is worth all the fanboying you’ve endured up to this point.
Final Verdict: 96/100 (A+/S-)

Batman/Robert Pattinson’s Performance
The Batman/Gordon Dynamic
The Darker interpretation of Riddler
Penguin/Colin Farrell’s Performance
The Story/Riddler’s Mad Scheme
Gotham City
The Fear of Batman
The Horror Aspects
The Funeral Suicide Bomber Scene
The Final Conflict at the Election Ceremony
Faithfulness to the comics
Barry Keoghan’s Joker
Carmine Falcone and the Wayne murder plot

Alfred’s lack of screentime
Story/mystery dampened on rewatches