The Batman movie captivates DC fans


Courtesy of IMDb

The movie “The Batman” was released on March 4, 2022.

Eastside Staff Michelle Bookbinder’s Take:

Released in early March 2022, “The Batman” unfolds as a murder mystery, and its continuous suspense will keep viewers engaged throughout the entire nearly three-hour film. The movie will especially appeal to Batman fans familiar with previous Batman movies because it includes many familiar characters, but this Batman film will be one to stay fresh in peoples’ minds.

The 2022 Batman stays true to Batman’s traditional storyline, but it is much more than a live-action version of a cartoon. Robert Pattinson embodies traditional Batman traits — physical strength and an incisive mind, consistently solving riddles and deciphering codes. True to the comic book story, Pattinson shifts identities between the masked hero and multi-millionaire Bruce Wayne. Also, Batman comes from a dark past, fighting crime to avenge the murders of his parents.

Even with his gadgets, uniform, and unbeatable power, however, this Batman is different from prior movies and comics. He is especially human with flaws and vulnerabilities. In one particularly striking scene, Batman is blown backward by an explosion and instead of emerging unscathed, he struggles to regain consciousness. In another memorable scene, Batman has an extremely rough landing after taking flight. He is not perfect, only a human taking big risks.

Also, Robert Pattinson’s Batman appears more realistic and relatable than previous Batman’s due to the emotions that he displays when playing the role. When concerned for the safety of his butler Alfred, who essentially became like a father figure, Batman appears intensely worried. Batman even appears fearful just before jumping off a building to take flight. As Bruce Wayne, Robert Pattison is even more relatable. In previous movies, Bruce Wayne appears social and engaged in Gotham City social events. The 2022 Bruce Wayne, is clearly depressed over his parents’ deaths, and instead of being social, appears as a loner.

The imperfections that Robert Pattinson portrays as Batman do not weaken Batman’s image as a superhero, though. We learn that the movie takes place when Bruce Wayne has only been fighting crime as Batman for two years. Seeing Batman take beatings increases the intensity of the film and makes the fight scenes feel more real for the audience. It also increases the audience’s empathy for the superhero each time he was in a life-threatening situation. Also, it supports Batman’s change in attitude during the course of the movie from simply seeking vengeance on criminals to becoming a hero for the public.

The film is also more realistic and sophisticated than prior movies and comics. The line between good and evil is often blurred, and not only Batman, but even the villains are more realistic and less like cartoons. Instead of Penguin looking like a cartoon man in a hat surrounded by actual penguins, he looks like an average man. Catwoman, for example, can be good or bad, and she has a backstory that is especially sympathetic. Also, because Batman has not been a superhero for long at the time of the story, most of the police do not trust him as being on their side.

In addition to the film doing a good job of making Batman appear more human and less of a perfect, unrealistic superhero, the film also succeeded in keeping viewers engaged for long periods of time. The film consistently went back and forth between action-packed fighting scenes and quiet, suspenseful scenes when Batman was attempting to crack codes and decipher notes left for him. The film also included elements of mafia crime, a love interest, and an extremely intense, destructive car chase involving the Batmobile.

Overall, “The Batman” rose well above its expectations to meet its demand for an entertaining, action-packed film. With all of its themes, at times the plot became a little complex, but the complexities made the plot less of a superhero fantasy and more like a realistic murder and drug ring case. Batman fans will also appreciate that so many of the Batman story characters made it into the movie — the Riddler, Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, and Alfred for example. The ending just may have introduced another famous Batman character, pointing toward a sequel.

Eastside Art Director Marcus Newman’s Take:

Ten years have passed since Christopher Nolan concluded his Batman trilogy with “The Dark Knight Rises.” Since then, fans have eagerly been awaiting the next rendition of the caped crusader but when DC debuted Ben Affleck as Batman six years ago, it wasn’t quite what fans had been looking for. Affleck’s popularity as the character crumbled under the weight of several bad business decisions and the actor DC hoped would portray the character across several projects was no longer a hot prospect. Changes needed to be made. Affleck was lined up to write, direct, produce, and star in a solo Batman film but after the negative response from audiences and Affleck himself, the film was reworked into what we now know as “The Batman.”

This film is everything comic book fans have wanted for years. When “The Dark Knight” released in 2008, audiences were blown away by everything, from the plot to the hyperrealism to Heath Ledger’s iconic performance as Joker… but how much does that really feel like a ‘Batman’ movie? As excellent as “The Dark Knight” is, it operates much better as a gritty crime-thriller or drama rather than a superhero film. “The Batman,” while still carrying that darkness, captures all the essence of Batman that previous films failed to.

For the first time ever, Batman is very much at the center of his own movie and it’s about time. Robert Pattinson, now branded “Battinson” by some more creative fans, delivers a stellar performance as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. We see perhaps the least of Bruce Wayne we’ve ever seen. As you’ll come to find, we’re dealing with a man who has no interest in bearing his family name. Bruce wants to right his fathers wrongs outside of the public eye and what better way to do that than locking himself away, only emerging at night to become the dangerous vigilante we all know.

Something that has gotten mixed reactions from fans is the character’s choice to say “I’m vengeance” rather than the iconic “I’m Batman,” but vengeance is truly what this character embodies. Though he still refrains from killing, this Batman is perhaps the most brutal the character has ever been on screen, but when Batman realizes that the identity of vengeance he created was a direct inspiration for the film’s key villain, he decides to drop that guise and focus on helping people in need instead of punishing his enemies. It’s a beautiful moment and one fully transitions this Batman into the hero role.

Writer and director, Matt Reeves does an Oscar-worthy job telling the story of “The Batman” and the mystery at its heart is key. A character who has been branded as the world’s greatest detective finally gets to become the world’s greatest detective as he works through a winding mystery, one that is just as treacherous for him as it is fun for fans to follow.

Viewers who are intune with the comics will discover a Gotham City that is just as grim and greasy as it is on the page. The corruption of the government officials feels is a poison for the people living there and we some of those people, a product of the corruption, rebel against it in dark and dangerous ways. That concept is the heart of the movie’s villain, Riddler. Paul Dano portrays a Riddler that’s much different than the version you’re familiar with from the comics and Jim Carrey’s cartoonish version from “Batman Forever.” Dano plays a character who feels so abandoned by his city that he decides to expose its lies with a series of terrorizing riddles. He accomplishes this with a band of followers he’s gathered via social media, a scenario with such realism that it might hit a little too close to home for some viewers. It is also not unlike the themes of 2019’s “Joker” film, something that could potentially undermine how hot and successful “The Batman” is right now.

All of the performances in “The Batman” are of high quality, including Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman and Colin Farrell as Penguin. Colin Farrell went through an extreme makeup transformation each day to become the iconic character and he’s virtually unrecognizable. However, the performance still comes through at full capacity. Though Farrell and Kravitz don’t have a ton to do in the film, both have rumored spin-off shows that would eventually stream on HBO Max that could flesh out their characters more and set them up for future storylines in a potential sequel to “The Batman” which now seems more than likely as the film is on its way to a billion dollars at the global box office.
Storied actor and close colleague of Matt Reeves, Andy Serkis makes for an interesting Alfred Pennyworth, one that might take some getting used to for some fans, but he certainly grabs your attention and may even have a background in military tactics, something I would be very keen to explore in future Batman installments. Jeffrey Wright brings to life perhaps the best Jim Gordon that’s ever been put to screen. His relationship with Batman is the richest we’ve ever seen as they are by each other’s side for every step of the mystery. Gordon’s purity acts as a nice foil to the corruption of other Gothamite’s we get to know. He’s also the one link Batman has to the Gotham City Police Department, a relationship that is just as tense as the relationship he has with the criminals of Gotham. At the heart of Gotham’s villainy is Carmine Falcone who is unconventionally played by John Turturro in this movie, but don’t let that ruin it for you. It’s a delight to watch Tuturro act incredibly well in a role even if it wasn’t necessarily meant for him.

Striking cinematography and invigorating music make “The Batman” a joy for the senses. No review of this film is complete without mentioning Michael Giacchino’s score. Not only is his Batman theme one of the best superhero themes of all time but the entire two-hour soundtrack plays beautifully and is sure to win awards when the season eventually comes around.

Some viewers might have a hard time getting through all of “The Batman” as it does come tantalizingly close to three hours. The film could undoubtedly be trimmed down but it’s the small and subtle moments that I find the most engaging. As a fan of comic book movies and an even bigger fan of Batman, this film hits all the right notes. It might take a little while to hit all of those notes but it’s incredibly worth it in the end.