The Bat Returns to the Big Screen (spoilers ahead!)


This past Friday, my dad and I went to see the new highly anticipated iteration of The Batman. This time, the famous batsuit was graced by former Twilight star, Robert Pattinson.

The movie starts and ends with a narration of a journal entry by Batman himself. Only two years into balancing the lives of Bruce Wayne and Batman, the millionaire spends most nights patrolling the streets and most days sleeping till noon, which may bring a familiar nocturnal animal to mind. 

As a character in this movie, Bruce Wayne was very underdeveloped, and almost lost in the shadows of his other persona of Batman. In past Batman movies, more specifically the three infamous Dark Knight films directed by Christopher Nolan, Bruce Wayne and Batman are clearly distinguished as two different personas, with Nolan using Bruce Wayne’s money and glamorous lifestyle to overshadow the fact that he is also the Batman.

In The Batman, however, Robert Pattinson’s Batman and Bruce Wayne are the exact same person whether the mask is on or off, and whether it’s day or night. The charitable donations, and flashy spending us viewers typically see from Bruce Wayne is non-existent in this movie, and whether or not it was done purposely was unclear to me. 

If done purposely, this makes perfect sense, and this technique used by director Matt Reeves sets up a sequel nicely. Throughout the film, both Pattinson’s Batman and Wayne repeat that they feel they “aren’t doing enough”, referring to the bettering and improvement of the fictional Gotham City. This starts to make more sense, as by the end of the movie, it seems as though Batman knows what he must do going forward to help the city more, possibly indicating that the balance between Bruce Wayne and Batman could be more equally leveled as the Pattinson trilogy continues.

For Pattinson’s performance as the caped crusader, I can gladly say he exceeded expectations. As Batman, Pattinson played a more gritty and brutal version of the character, constantly laying beat downs on the scum of Gotham City, emerging from the shadows with no words or jokes uttered other than the soon to be infamous, “I’m Vengeance”, line in the beginning of the film. Pattinson’s Batman is also by far the most comic accurate, combining Batman’s skilled martial arts skills with incredible detective work and intelligence. Pattinson took the role very seriously, which I think most Batman fans would agree is what we wanted to see most.

The other main character in the movie, The Riddler, portrayed by actor Paul Dano, was perfect. In past Batman movies the Riddler has been a laughing stock for audiences, almost like the poor man’s Joker. Once played by Jim Carrey, the character was more satirical and never was placed in the main spotlight that he may have deserved. Dano seized this opportunity in the spotlight, and ran with it, delivering a performance on the same tier as that of the late Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. Dano was downright terrifying, barely showing his face and torturing the wealthy in Gotham City in attempt to create a fairness. Whether he knew that Batman was indeed Bruce Wayne is unclear, as he never explicitly states it, however his disdain for Wayne is clear throughout the film, as he constantly loathes over the fact that Wayne came out as a rich orphan while he was an orphan with nothing to his name.

Dano’s character terrorizes the city of Gotham, putting together an army to try and take down the upper class of Gotham, while also putting the whole city in danger by bombing multiple sites on the water of Gotham, leaving the whole city flooded and in a state of emergency. The Riddler also meets another criminal in the film once placed in Arkham Asylum who is believed to be the Joker by many fans. Although Matt Reeves has said explicitly that the Joker, played by Barry Keoghan in this movie is unlikely to be the main villain in Pattinson’s trilogy, it definitely added a nice little wrinkle to the plot.

A character who really surprised and impressed me in the film was the Penguin, played by Colin Farrell. Originally, I had no idea how Colin Farrell could be turned into a short, obese man with scarred facial tissue, the makeup artists did a number on him, creating the funny, charismatic Gotham mob leader we know and love. Farrell’s performance was honestly my favorite in the movie, as he truly stole the screen in every scene he was in. 

Another side vigilante in the film was Catwoman, played by actress Zoe Kravitz. Unlike in previous Batman movies where Catwoman makes a short cameo appearance or two, Kravitz was truly a star, fighting the same battle against the corrupt mob in Gotham City that both Batman and Riddler were fighting. Reeves did a fantastic job balancing her villainy, creating her relationship with Batman in an awkward, yet increasingly romantic as the plot thickens, while also having her fight the same fight as Riddler to dethrone the wealthy class in Gotham City. In the end, Catwoman ultimately leaves Gotham to move upstate, wishing Batman could go with her, but of course, Vengeance cannot leave the battle he is fighting in Gotham. 

Now most of you reading this are most likely wondering where this movie ranks among Batman movies, and for that question I have a two word answer. It’s different. This movie is truly impossible to place head-head against any of the films in Christopher Nolan’s and Christian Bale’s trilogy as they are such different takes on the same character. While I believe that Pattinson may have been a better Batman than Bale, Bale was far better in the Bruce Wayne department, and the characters surrounding Bale really complete his character.

Overall, I would give The Batman a strong 9/10. Though it was so different, this was definitely a good thing as DC comics needed to step up their game, almost eight years removed from a great Batman movie. I am truly excited to see what Reeves and Pattinson can bring to develop the character in the future, and what different villains will be introduced into their world.

Photo by Sam Basich