The Batman has been in theaters recently, and it has attracted a bunch of Batman fans and superhero fans in general. Director/writer Matt Reeves was able to make a film that not only told a classic Batman comic book story but also perfectly captured the character of the Caped Crusader. Let’s dive on in and try to understand why The Batman is so great.
For one, director Matt Reeves is known to be a lifelong Batman fan, which means he is pretty knowledgeable about the comics. In an interview, Reeves shared that he was inspired by the 1987 comic Batman: Year One, a detective noir story in which a young Bruce Wayne is figuring out the ropes of being a vigilante. You can definitely see the inspiration here, as his movie completely skips the Batman origin story and delves into the life of Bruce Wayne, who has been a vigilante for only two years. He’s struggling with his past, as evidenced with the now-iconic line he utters while fighting a bunch of street-level criminals: “I’m vengeance.” This Batman is vulnerable; he’s still learning the ropes and figuring out what it means to dawn his mask. On another note, Reeves also took inspiration from noir films like The French Connection, Chinatown, and Taxi Driver.
Speaking of noir films, the fact that the movie was a thriller crime film felt like a good decision on the director’s part. Batman has to go up against The Riddler, which in this movie is pretty much inspired by the Zodiac Killer – he’s a cold killer who likes to toy with his enemies. He leaves clues for Batman to try and solve, and that’s something I haven’t seen before in live-action Batman films. People often forget that Batman has the title of “The world’s greatest detective,” but this movie focuses on that aspect of the character, unlike past live-action iterations. He’s unbelievably intelligent and can solve seemingly impossible crime scenes without the utterance of a word.
On the other side of all the Batman stuff, there’s the character of Bruce Wayne, who feels very grounded in this movie. Instead of being the usual billionaire playboy type as seen in other films, he’s a loner weirdo in this movie. He’s reclusive and only goes out as Bruce Wayne when he feels like it’s necessary. It’s certainly different, but it makes so much sense considering this character’s backstory. He’s broken, tortured, and is fueled by that pain. Robert Pattinson continues to prove himself as a great actor, despite doubters who only know him as that one emo white pasty dude from Twilight.
Another thing I love about this movie is its supporting characters. There’s Jim Gordon played by Jeffrey Wright, who shows himself to be one of the only good pure cops in a filthy rotten city that is Gotham. He has this great dynamic with Batman and is honestly one of my favorite characters. Then there’s Catwoman or Selina Kyle, played by Zoe Kravitz. She was the perfect casting for the character, and she embodied the sly vibe of Catwoman very well. She has excellent chemistry with Pattinson and is a character with a deep backstory and vulnerability, just like Batman himself.
Then there’s The Riddler played by Paul Dano. I have to admit that he is my favorite live-action Batman villain since Heath Ledger’s Joker. Paul Dano has been excellent in portraying extremely creepy antagonists in his filmography, and he just continues to shine as the main villain in this movie. He is scary, creepy, and very obviously unhinged, but his genius serves as a great opponent to Batman’s own smarts.
Other notable performances are from Colin Farrell and Andy Serkis who play the Penguin and Alfred Pennyworth, respectively. The make-up and prosthetics department did an incredible job on Farrell, as he is practically unrecognizable here as the Penguin. Then there’s Alfred, whom I honestly had so much empathy for – since he seemed to have a close paternal relationship with Bruce Wayne that was very emotional at parts of the movie.
Besides all the performances and the story, the film just looks gorgeous. The direction and cinematography are top-tier in this film. The events in the film are set almost entirely at night, which means Gotham is very dark, but the way the city is colored doesn’t make it monotone, despite all the darker tones. The action scenes are amazing – there’s this one fight scene where Batman fights a bunch of goons in the dark, and the only source of light is the gunfire from the enemies’ firearms. It is so pretty to look and is made better because of the gritty, violent, and dynamic fight choreography.
I can’t forget to talk about one of my favorite aspects of this movie – the score. The soundtrack just elevates the scary and haunting vibe of the film. It sounds like a score for a horror movie, and it works well as such. Even a few scenes are legitimately meant to jump care the audience, and the sound and effects help with that purpose.
Overall, the Batman movie is a fresh but comic-accurate take on the live-action Dark Knight. It’s gritty and compelling to me despite the almost three-hour runtime. The direction, cinematography, and soundtrack are everything you’d want in a Batman film, and the performances of the actors are top-tier and are truly inspired by the comics. If you’re a die-hard Batman fan or maybe even new to the superhero genre, I’d definitely recommend this movie.
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