- Movie Name:The Batman
- Release Date: Mar 4, 2022
- Director: Matt Reeves
- Genre: Superhero film
Another Batman movie! Why do we need more Batmen? What's new to see in Batman movies now? Well, Matt Reeves' The Batman is a fitting response to all these questions. Batman does not need any introduction because it's a greatly popularised character in pop culture, so much so that movie-goers are now aware of the basic premise that turned Bruce Wayne into the caped crusader. Rising above the trappings of a conventional DCEU film, The Batman justifies its existence and stands out among the various versions of the character.
Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, with Christian Bale as the lead actor, set a benchmark for Batman films. He surely deserved it. And Matt Reeves banks on it too. But he adds more flavour to the character, making it distinct. Bale's Batman had the brainiac Sherlock Holmes vibe, but he hid in the shadows and did the messy job with an undertone. Pattinson's Batman, on the other hand, is a volatile freak, with an aura that's capable of making the bystanders recoil with the bare minimum. The Batman is a character study into why a recluse billionaire doesn't feel the need to keep up appearances and finds it easier to moonlight as a crusader of justice. The opening monologue shows the viewers exactly how capable the Bat-signal is in evoking the fear in criminals. "Fear is a tool. When that light hits the sky, it's not just a call. It's a warning," is a dialogue in the movie.
But away from the dirty streets of Gotham, lives the Bruce Wayne who's vulnerable. He likes to believe he's an apathetic man only to discover that it's his sentiments that drive his cause. Reeves' Batman stunningly brings out the charisma and susceptibilities of the superhero in equal measures. For Reeves and his portrayal of Batman, the focus is on this vigilante running the grim streets of Gotham and what makes him exact vengeance.
Nonetheless, he constantly tussles with the Riddler, a masked vigilante on a killing spree. Riddler's targets are popular names of Gotham who have committed heinous crimes in the past. Reeves manages to knit the world of Riddler precisely. He's shown as a deranged philosophical psychopath with a knack for riddles. The mystery around him untangle in a slow-witted manner, and it survives the three-hour runtime.
The Batman never shies away from calling out the class divide and white supremacy prevailing in the city of Gotham city. "Such a freak," exclaimed many when they saw a huge man carelessly walking in bulky suits and a cape at crime scenes. The same man is greeted with respect when he reaches a public event as one of the nobles of the town. Likewise, when Bruce Wayne fails to empathise with Selena Kyle's (Zoe Kravitz) reasons, she dares to call out his privilege as a rich, white man who finds it tricky to apprehend what a woman of colour from a subpar economic backdrop bears.
The film also circles more into Batman's intimate relationships, notably with Selena. The Batman and Catwoman's chemistry has often found space in comics but explored little in films. However, the filmmaker tries his best to scour it here. More than love, there is genuine respect between the two. Selena and Batman want different things and have their approaches but get intertwined together in the process. The film is about Batman, but not even in a single moment does Selena let the superhero reign over her. She doesn't need his saving or his shoulder to cry on. She has seen and handled worse.
This self-awareness of the characters helps the film big time. Bruce for a fact knows that his crusade might just count for nothing. It's not always easy for actors to come out of the shells of their popular films, especially if they are as popular as the Twilight series' lead Pattinson. (You like it or not is a debate for another day.) But he completely dissolves himself in Batman's spirit and exuberates brilliance.
The Batman feels gritty and is absolutely comfortable in telling a noir detective story primarily from the eyes of the world's greatest detective and how over the course of the movie he grows stronger and comes to terms with his past. While the direction is brilliant and you have to give it some extra points for remarkable work with light and bokeh effects, multiple scenes in the film seem to draw inspiration from Joaquin Phoneix's Joker. For instance, a sequence in the subway and a scene showing bruised back of the Batman appear parallel to the previous film.
For better or for worse, Hollywood superhero films are recognised by the face of their titular characters. Things changed a bit with James Gunn's superhero films for Marvel. It was this bold shift that made The Guardians of The Galaxy the franchise everyone loves. Similarly, The Batman will be remembered for Reeves' work more than for its lead.
After several shifts around the release calendar due to the pandemic, The Batman has finally rolled out on the screens. Turns out, it is worth the wait.