Superhero movies are the talking point of everyone in the film industry. Some people call them empty, mass-produced, boring, and impersonal. They are destroying film as a medium. Some other people love them, find them exciting and enjoyable to no end. The truth is somewhere in the middle. It is true that superhero movies have become too much of the same thing over and over again, with plots that basically repeat themselves and with characters that function more like plot devices than as characters with proper arcs. Most superhero films end up being predictable and risk-averse.
It is also true that they are the most successful genre of all time, and they have captivated the imaginations of millions with their fantastic worlds and exciting battles. They are a place where the visual effects artists only have their imagination as a limit. All of that is true, and it cannot be denied. And yet, The Batman appears in the midst of this complicated conversation as a superhero film like no other. One that is not interested in playing the same game as the rest of the genre and is one that basically stands tall as unique among them.
The Batman is the best Batman film, and also one of the best films in the superhero landscape and in general.
The Batman is directed by Matt Reeves and is written by Matt Reeves himself along with Peter Craig. The film stars Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Andy Serkis and Colin Farrell. The film tells the story of Batman in his second year as a vigilante in the city of Gotham, as he tries to make a difference in the corrupted city. Batman will come face to face with a radical villain, The Riddler, who is targeting some of the most influential people in the city in search of vengeance that might involve Batman and his family as well.
Matt Reeves did an amazing job with the Ape franchise, delivering two powerful films full of amazing visual effects and characters. So, when Warner Bros. decided to give him one of the most valuable franchises in the world, many were relieved that such a good filmmaker could have the chance to do a Batman film on his own terms. And that is precisely what Reeves has done, crafting a powerful film that can be distinguished from all other superhero films as a detective story rather than just another action film.
The Batman is, for all intents and purposes, a detective story. Reeves takes huge influence from the Neo-Noir genre and references it throughout the film to give Batman a new take. One that has been part of the character for decades in the comics, but that has been almost ignored in every single venture of the character into live-action.
The film is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, as Batman faces The Riddler, a villain that is all about puzzles and how the pieces fit together. The result is a movie that moves at a steady pace, delivering new clues and twists at every turn, but also a movie that doesn’t feel the need to rush to its end. Because of it, the movie’s runtime is three hours, but Reeves uses every single minute with confidence and finally tells the most accurate comic book Batman story ever.
The plot of the film is a mixture of The Long Halloween and both Earth One and Year One. Three comics that have become a mandatory read for anyone who is into comics. The three comics, together in this film, concoct a detective story that is easy to follow but also intriguing enough to keep the audience guessing until the end.
The story is not the only good thing. Visually, the film is outstanding, with cinematographer Greig Fraser doing a fantastic job shooting a film that is dark in every sense of the word, but also intelligible enough to manage to create some truly gorgeous frames. Gotham has never looked darker or filthier than this.
Michael Ciacchino’s score also helps bring the somber mood to new heights. The composer brings his A-level game, delivering a score that is both exciting, frightful and emotional at the same time.
And of course, The Batman has an amazing cast of actors, all delivering the best possible performances with characters that are truly bigger than life. An unrecognizable Colin Farrell makes each of his scenes as The Penguin count, giving the film some needed levity. Zoë Kravitz makes for a stunning Selina Kyle, one that stands with Batman as her equal and is just as fascinating without stopping being sexy and sassy.
Paul Dano also injects fear into the audience’s hearts as a serial killer whose actions feel all too real. The actor delivers energy that makes this version of the Riddler someone who is worth fearing.
Robert Pattinson on the other hand, is the star of the show, something that many other Batmen had a hard time achieving in contrast with their more flashy villains. Here, Pattinson makes for a Batman that is just as compelling as his Rogue’s Gallery and one that many will want to see develop in future sequels, hopefully.
The Batman went for the fences and made it by being his own animal in a landscape where movies are content with being something created from the same mold. The long runtime might try some people’s patience, but it is undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best, superhero movie in decades, as well as an amazing movie in its own right.