Matt Reeves’ The Batman: A True Comic Book Movie
The Batman | Directed by Matt Reeves | 2022 | DC Films | 176 minutes
by Emilio Sireday
First of all, I should say that my opinion of this film is slightly biased, as I’m a big fan of Superhero Movies and Batman is by far my favourite superhero. Nevertheless, I confidently believe that most people could find some degree of enjoyment in this movie whether they are familiar with the subject matter or not.
Matt Reeves’ The Batman (2022) truly feels like a movie made from a comic book. For example, there’s the use of Bruce Wayne’s (Robert Pattinson) inner monologue throughout the film, which functions similarly to narrative boxes in a graphic novel. Furthermore, the film has been largely compared to “The Long Halloween” story by Jeph Loeb from 1996, as the appraised comic series served as one of the major inspirations for the film, which shares in its dark, detective mystery plot and character dynamics (Kurten, 2022). The film also takes from the Year One and Golden Age iterations of the character, displaying Batman’s first years as a vigilante and his brutal approach towards crime fighting.
This isn’t to say that the film merely rides on the success of previous stories, as it handles its narrative pretty effectively and manages to still feel fresh. There’s not much time wasted on introductions, as the movie assumes that you are likely familiar with these characters to some degree. There’s enough information to clue you in if you’re out of the loop, but not so much as to feel tedious and overdone. Despite there being quite a few characters involved in the plot, I felt it did a good job of managing them all. Jeffrey Wright’s portrayal of Jim Gordon fits very well with the atmosphere of the film, being more aware of the corruption in Gotham and thus putting more trust in Batman. Falcone (John Turturro) and Penguin (Colin Farrell) work well as secondary villains, actually serving a purpose in the story rather than just being thrown in for fan-service.
In my opinion, The Batman handles Selina Kyle’s (Zoe Kravitz) character the best out of all the live-action Batman movies. Zoe Kravitz does a great job in her portrayal and really brings out both the danger and allure of the character. On top of that, she also has good motivations for being a part of the plot outside of her connection with Batman, and there’s logical distance between the two of them for the level at which their relationship is at. The Riddler (Paul Dano) works pretty well as the main antagonist of the film, especially considering some of the previous iterations of the character not being taken very seriously, so having him as a darker villain was pretty interesting.
As for The Batman himself, I personally enjoyed Pattinson’s brooding nihilistic take on the character. It fits well with the cynic tone of the film and makes the character’s development more meaningful. I also like how at times, he doesn’t seem to have full control over his actions, showing how this is a younger Bruce that still has a lot of mismanaged rage. This also results in him being The Batman more than Bruce Wayne, and explains his fighting style being a lot more brutal.
The design aspects of the film are also phenomenal. The city of Gotham is portrayed similarly to how it is in the Arkham games and Todd Phillips’ Joker (2019), providing a sombre and obscure aesthetic that, along with Michael Giaccino’s score, really sells the darkness that lurks within the city and how foul of a place it can be. However, even with the darker look, the movie doesn’t look dull in the slightest. The different tone of yellow, red, and blue lights that adorn the night scenes ensure that film remains vibrant and visually pleasing. The colour and lighting could also be said to hold symbolic value, communicating how Gotham really comes to life at night in contrast to the cold lighting used for most of the day scenes. There’s also the clear use of colour to represent specific characters, with Batman’s red and black and The Riddler’s green.
The costume design is another highlight for The Batman. There’s an almost minimalistic aspect to the costumes that works really well in my opinion, especially in Selina’s case. The Riddler’s design is also very interesting, with the straitjacket aesthetic of his mask and the glasses on top making for an eerie effect. Batman’s suit is definitely the best, and in my opinion, he’s never looked better in the big screen. The armoured and rough look really sell the brutality of this version of the character. One particularly astounding aspect of the film was how the visual details and sound design add some real weight to the suit, which is especially visible during the action sequences.
All in all, I believe The Batman to be the best live-action iteration of the character that I have seen so far, and I’m glad that Warner Bros was able to produce this through the mess that have been their recent attempts at comic book movies. I really recommend watching this film, especially so if you’re a fan of the character.
Kurten, Guillermo. “The Batman: 7 Best Comics That Influenced The Movie.” Screenrant. March 8, 2022. https://screenrant.com/the-batman-best-comics-that-influenced-inspired-movie/#ego.