Review: ‘The Batman’ Stands Out From Predecessors

The gritty new film is an engaging and mysterious detective story that redefines the superhero movie genre.

The Batman movie poster

Courtesy of Warner Brothers

“The Batman” movie poster

Ben Jacobs, Contributor

Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” is a dark and mysterious crime thriller starring Robert Pattinson as Batman. Since Pattinson is the 7th iteration of the character to appear on the big screen, it would be easy for his version to blend in with those before him.

But Pattinson’s dark and gritty take on the character assures that his portrayal will be one to remember. This version of Bruce Wayne is much more fragile and broken than previous ones.

The second thing that makes this Batman movie stand out from its predecessors is its version of Gotham City. In previous Batman movies, Gotham City has always felt bland and uninspired, a generic major American city. The Batman’s Gotham City looks damaged and broken, the victim of decades worth of rampaging crime. 

This isn’t your typical superhero action movie with some comic relief mixed in. This is a serious, grim detective movie that takes the PG-13 genre of superhero movies in a darker direction.

The film opens on Halloween night, with the murder of the mayor of Gotham City, Don Mitchell Jr. As Jeffrey Wright’s Commissioner Gordon and his men scavenge the crime scene, they discover a letter addressed to Batman, left behind by a serial killer, Paul Dano’s The Riddler. 

Batman and Jim Gordon are at the center of the movie, taking on the series of clues associated with The Riddler’s murders. After examining the first riddle left behind at the crime scene, the two are inclined to head to the Iceberg Lounge, a nightclub operated by the mob and Colin Farell’s The Penguin.

During his visit, Batman spots many of Gotham’s corrupt political figures spending their night out at the club. One of these is District Attorney Gil Colson. Hours later, when DA Colson leaves the club and enters his car, The Riddler is lurking in the backseat.

Spotting him in his rearview mirror, Colson lets out a shriek – followed by a series of brutal strikes in the head with a baseball bat. After this, The Riddler duct tapes his mouth shut and straps a bomb around his neck.

As The Riddler, Dano gives arguably the best performance in the whole film, playing a social recluse-turned-deranged-serial-killer. He sent chills down my spine as he prowled in the distant shadows, before conducting a sequence of violent and bloody attacks.

While The Riddler’s actions are undoubtedly evil, his motives make sense. Through the many clues The Riddler lays out, he leads Batman and Commissioner Gordon through his life’s story.

Confronted with the loss of his parents at a young age, The Riddler was an orphan, stuck living in harsh conditions in the crime-ridden city of Gotham. So, as an adult, he targets and assassinates wealthy corrupt political figures whose policies allow crime to flourish and thrive.

Another notable performance is Zoey Kravitz’s Catwoman. Daughter of Crime Boss Carmine Falcone, Selina Kyle works at the Iceberg Lounge, while also fighting alongside Batman as Catwoman to stop crime. The romantic dynamic between Batman and Catwoman is extremely well-written, and the two actors have great chemistry onscreen.

The film’s final act takes place in an indoor arena in the center of Gotham City, where Democrat-elect Bella Reál gives her mayoral campaign speech. During the speech, The Riddler’s followers space out around the scaffolding of the building with snipers, intending to assassinate Reál. Then, Reál is struck by a non-fatal bullet from above.

Batman and Catwoman race to the top of the rafters, where they brawl with The Riddler’s men. After coming out on top, they help the civilians of Gotham, as The Riddler and his men are escorted to Arkham Asylum.

The film then picks up six days after the attack on Bella Reál, as Batman and Catwoman are discussing the future of Gotham. Catwoman deems Gotham City beyond saving, and suggests that Batman rethink his plan to help rehabilitate the city. Batman declines, vowing to do everything he can to assure Gotham progresses. 

In the final shot in the film, Batman and Catwoman board their motorcycles, driving beside each other until they reach a fork in the road. Then, they head in separate directions, symbolizing their  morals not aligning any longer.

As Batman sees Catwoman getting smaller in his rear view mirror, he bravely stares ahead at the crime-ridden city of Gotham, ready to take on another day.

Overall,The Batman” is an engaging and mysterious story that redefines the superhero movie genre. It is an excellent detective movie from start to finish, demonstrating that there is still much to explore in this beloved character.