DC Comics shines with an array of heroes and villains powerful enough to rival gods and with the dynamism to blend into any style or genre of storytelling they see fit. Yet, time and time again, they always fall back on this particular human standing toe to toe with gods and aliens, wearing a bat mask. This time, Batman wears the face of Robert Patterson.
The Batman joins a long line of Batman films, each unique in their own way, attempting to imbue everything that Batman stands for while also setting their own standard for what a Batman film should be.
Long before the first scene was shot, this movie had its fair share of drama. First helmed by Ben Affleck, who wrote his own vision of Batman that would have had him square off against deathstroke and god knows who. the project was halted amid conflicts between Ben and the studio that eventually saw the end of his Batman reign in the DC extended universe.
Then came Matt Reeves, a surprise pick announced to be making a Batman film just months after he completed the Planet of the Apes trilogy. There was a fair share of scepticism and excitement at the time, considering the state of the studio, Ben Affleck’s departure, and then the pandemic. Almost four years later, we get to see why Matt Reeves was the perfect fit to direct a Baman movie.
With all the ingredients to make a good Batman movie already present in history, whether it’s the insane warehouse scene in BVS or the realistic approach of the Nolan movies or the comic yet dark takes from the Burton movies, Batman takes the best parts of these ingredients and makes its own recipe. With cinematic universes all battling it out to expand the scope of their narrative, Batman closes itself to nothing more than Gotham, which elevates it by making it the most grounded Batman movie to date.
Matt Reeves takes risks with the story, skipping the year one batman that most directors would opt for, instead throwing the audience into an already established batman coming to terms with his impact, instead of trying to figure things out. He trusts that everyone watching this film knows who Batman is, which they should, a gamble that ultimately saves so much time asking, "What is Batman up to instead?"
Unlike the previous version, in which the batmen are frantically running from scene to scene to escape the chaos created by the villain, this batman leans heavily on the detective side of the character. A gritty yet grounded noir story inspired by the zodiac that engulfs step by step, only revealing enough to make you want to know more. Where action would be essential to sell this kind of movie, this movie is carried entirely by the plot and the characters, which is the true mark of a good film.
Robert Patterson, the vampire who transforms into the bat, shines not just for the strength of his jawbones or his broody demeanor. but for a mystifying and exhilarating performance of the bat's psyche. On his side, Zo Kravitz's performance as Catwoman steals the show in every scene she is present, while Paul Dano, Colin Firth, and Jeffery Wright all give a memorable take on their characters.
With a tone that has become synonymous with DC, unlike their Marvel compatriots, Batman doesn’t shy away from the darkness. It is Batman’s element, anyway. From the corruption of government institutions to the corruption of morality, Batman shakes the foundations of both Gotham and Batman in new and refreshing ways. It is almost like the third act of Batman begins, given a full three-hour run time to show its worth. And for the most part, it is worthwhile. And the score? Bless Michael Giacchino for the score.
It's not a perfect movie; the story might not be for everyone, and the duality of Batman and Bruce Wayne doesn’t get to be shown as frequently as it would need to be. Plus, the movie is three hours long.
However, the long run passes in a flash with elaborate story beats to walk even the laziest watcher to the end. And that should be good enough to stir the conversation about this being one of the best Batman movies in existence and definitely worth a watch.
There are no credit scenes, but there is an end credit "thing" you can wait for.
Till next time, I am VENGENCE.
By Kelvin Kyle