When we talk about who or why Batman is, we can end up with a million answers. What he does, why he does it, how he thinks, what’s his endgame, etc.
When it comes to adapting characters, Batman is what sets the records straight. He defines the tone. He is in charge, not just from a character perspective, but from an adaptive perspective. Christopher Nolan perfectly described this when he talked about the legacy of Batman saying,
“Batman is the one who really benefits from different interpretations and different interpretations that change over time both in Comics and indeed than in the Movies. I think the success of our movies, the previous prior success of Tim Burton’s movies… and then moving on to Zack Snyder’s Interpretation and now there will be Rob’s Interpretation. Batman is owned and interpreted differently by different generations. It’s one of the things that kept the character alive and vital over these years”Christopher Nolan
This is very important to note because every Batman follows the same set of rules and yet is adapted across various mediums in a very different way. Matt Reeves’ adaptation is kind of the perfect blend between all we’ve seen and have known before and more. From the canon like Jeph Loeb’s “The Long Halloween,” to well known classics like Grant Morrison’s “Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth,” there’s a presence of everything in this film. Moreover, it feels as if the animated series went through its multiverse of madness and got a live action upgrade.
Finishing up with the basic elements that don’t require a spoiler warning, the visuals and score are simply amazing. Michael Giacchino’s composition added another glorious set of tracks to the legacy of the caped crusader. And the slow burn theme not only feels like Danny Elfman’s Batman orchestration, but also a little bit of John Williams’ “Star Wars’” “The Imperial March” theme. It sets the tone for the film. So, if you love the previously mentioned scores, you’ll definitely love the film. The “Mayoral Ducting” piece might be one of my all time favorite tracks ever.
Greig Fraser’s cinematography, and the film’s color grading, very much makes it feel like something taken out right from the pages of a comic book. This might be one of the best Gotham portrayals I’ve ever seen on screen.
The stunt choreography was splendid. From the one-on-one action sequences, to the Batmobile chase, to the gliding scenes — everything was chef’s kiss.
The costume designs nail the noir tone. Batman’s suit feels like the armor of a knight from long ago. Zoe Kravitz’ suit feels ready to hit the road and, honestly, could’ve been done better with some tweaks and upgrades. The choice of the color schemes of every costume on film to be shaded just like the film’s moody aesthetic is something I’ll always cherish. We don’t need unnecessary colors for distraction. The tone of the film makes it colorful and engaging.
The choice to make this film a narrative of Bruce Wayne is the best decision ever taken for a Batman adaptation. It makes us walk through his mind and it also lets us know that Batman is conscious and well aware of what he is doing.
This makes sure that, until he’s writing, he won’t end up being like Alan Moore’s Rorschach or, in a way, Zack Snyder’s older and more broken Batman. He’s making his choices and, while writing them, he’s introspecting them. So he’d always have his morals on point since he’s not lying to himself. He can always go back to his roots if the world somehow convinces him that “criminals are like weeds. Pull one up, another grows in its place.”
The only way he’d ever go down the dark path from this point is if the books are burned down and/or he stops writing and ends up being more obsessed by his sense of justice. So, maybe not for another 20 years, but I’d be very much interested to see him go down that road and how Reeves would take him down it. A discussion for another day.
The plot of this film is very basic, yet moving in certain ways, and to some extent. It feels inspired by films and graphic novels like “Zodiac” and “V for Vendetta.” The movie feels more like an animated series episode coming to life. The serious tone really helps with the entirety of the three glorious hours and might be one of those films that I consider very hopeful and optimistic rather than dark and depressing. In my terms, if a story starts from a dark path but ends up being inspirational, then it’s hopeful. “Batman v. Superman” is another one of the examples for a hopeful and optimistic film.
While talking about the plot, there is a lot of world building being done that helps set up a lot of spin-offs. Falcone talking about the time Wayne saved him from a shot in his chest and young Bruce watching him, that’s straight out of the comics. And so are the days of Arkhams and Waynes.
The universe can be expanded in so many directions and it should be. The scene where Batman stops Selina from killing the cop, justifying this decision with the infamous “no kill rule,” feels straight out of the animated series. The last time I was researching and exploring Batman, I remember hearing Kevin Conroy’s Dark Knight say this very quote in a slightly different way to a character named Andrea in one of the most famous Batman animated films, “The Mask of Phantasm.” The fact that Riddler understands Batman’s true face being Batman himself, and Bruce being a mere disguise, is very satisfying. It’s like from the comic panels of Morrison’s “Arkham Asylum” where Joker acknowledges this very thing saying that Batman is his true identity.
Speaking of the characters, Falcone, Maroni and politics played by Penguin were very interesting, along with the Riddler doing his thing outside the box. He proved to be more dangerous than all of the crime lords combined which is so beautifully chaotic.
The motivations and the plans were great. I loved seeing Riddler plan it all out and loved even more the fact that he was able to make everyone feel how he felt all these years as a poor orphan. What’s more amazing is that there’s still someone out there who’s a bigger pro at these theatrics and, with Riddler and the secret Cameo, most likely the Joker, joining forces, the sequel could be very chaotic and challenging. The speech he gave that walked us through his pain was very moving. It’s very amazing to see how characters react when pushed to their limits. We can’t possibly have a Jim Carrey like Riddler with these motivations. A serious Riddler was the way to go and Paul Dano nailed it. A bit of me felt as if I were watching “V for Vendetta,” where V exposed everyone, then everyone being V by the end of the film… just like Riddler exposing Gotham’s secrets and many people joining the fight in the end dressed up like him.
Gotham flooding was very beautifully presented. It reminds me a bit of the “Cataclysm” event that happened back in 1999. And Batman being the beacon of hope was the cherry on the top! It was an animated series all over again. The way he feels responsible for what happens in Gotham, and that he feels the need to be the symbol people can look up to, is so very satisfying.
The new Mayor’s speech accompanied by his monologue at the end really proves to be a perfect conclusion. This makes us wonder if we’ll see a “No Man’s Land” adaptation real soon. To some extent, this is what Nolan did (like adapting “Year One,” “Long Halloween,” “No Man’s Land,” “Knightfall,” etc) but in an even more comic booky way. Which, in a way, became the new way of doing Batman. So, again, it proves what Nolan said, Batman benefits by interpretation.
I loved the moment between Catwoman and Batman when she asks him to join her and he looks at the signal showing what his uttermost priority is. Again, straight out of the comics. However, I feel Zoe Kravitz was under utilized as Catwoman. It would’ve been fun to see more of her in the film, especially in action.
Bruce Wayne and Alfred have a strange relationship, maybe due to the early years, but the moment in the hospital was very satisfying. Andy Serkis might be my least favorite Alfred because I prefer an Alfred who’s a bit cocky at times, like Michael Caine. Alfred also had way less screen time than I would’ve liked.
Penguin (so far) was the most interesting character here and, considering how much history there is of the character, the rumored solo series about him would be really interesting to see.
Robert Pattinson has the potential to be the best Batman. All he needs is to be pushed to the limits with the character. Since this film had his morals in order, he felt very calm throughout. The start shows him in a dark place where he’s looking for vengeance and it ends with him understanding that he can be the beacon of hope Gotham needs — so there’s good character development. But something that morally challenges the character would be even more interesting to watch in the future stories.
There’s this one scene with him where a Riddler’s follower is trying to kill Catwoman and he injects himself with some adrenaline and starts punching him. He’s almost about to kill him when Gordon stops him. There’s a small silence during that scene which speaks for the scene very loudly. I loved that bit very much.
As for the comic counterpart, this reminded me of the scene from a “Batman: Hush” storyline where Batman is punching the Joker with all his rage and Gordon forces him to stop. Both the scenes are played out very differently but I’m a fan so I love such parallels.
The opening act of him narrating and walking us through the streets of Gotham has to be one of the most beautiful Batman scenes we’ve had, though the “I’m vengeance” scene played out stronger in the trailer than the actual film. It was a strong opening nonetheless.
Jeffery Wright is perfectly cast as Gordon. He feels active throughout the film and also feels like a character in charge, even though he is helping Batman most of the time. This makes me excited for the in-development Gotham City Police Department (GCPD) HBO Max series set in this world. There’s so much politics, which can be explored via that show.
The score, as I said, speaks for the film itself.
The stunt choreography was very good, and the action sequences too. The flood scene at the end was very well shot, even though we hardly see the faces of any people during that scene.
“The Batman” feels very much like a David Fincher-esque film and a very valid take on the character. The narrative concept feels fresh and unique in live action, even though done before, and something that should be explored furthermore. The consistent tone of the film with the absence of humor really helps the story and the narrative and sets it apart from the competition, which is good.
A lot of world building with an amazing screenplay and very amazing theatrical aspects was present. I would’ve loved it if this was a part of the DCEU, but I’m still happy that it is a thing of its own. Whatever helps with the utmost creative freedom.
“The Batman” is a must see and for sure is something worth studying. So, if you’re around, do check this film out… more than once. Because the film would only get better for you if you challenge it even more. I’m definitely sure a lot of what I wrote above would change over time as the adrenaline settles down and as the film grows on me. But for now, my rating for this film would be 4.5/5.