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The Batman Review: A Perfect Batman Film

5/5 Sad boy Bruce Waynes.

Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne in 'The Batman'

When it comes to telling a story about the world of Batman, we have quite a few examples the Dark Knight’s history in film. The issue, at least for me, has been that we never got the Batman that I loved from the comics. In the movies, he’s rarely been a detective at all, let alone the World’s Greatest—and then came director Matt Reeves’ take on Bruce Wayne with The Batman.

The new movie is a gritty detective thriller that throws us right into Bruce Wayne’s story. We know his history and his love of Gotham and why he’s doing this entire vigilante thing in the first place, and all of it informs our experience watching the movie.

**Mild spoilers for Matt Reeves’ The Batman lie ahead.**

For one brief moment in the beginning of The Batman, it felt like we were going to have to watch the Wayne family die again, but instead, Reeves instead sets up a parallel for Bruce to channel his anger toward early on in the film. What The Batman masters is what makes Bruce Wayne tick. Brought to life by a brooding Robert Pattinson, the movie is, at its core, a detective film. It’s as if the 2007 David Fincher film Zodiac merged with the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy and then had a baby with an actual fan of the comics. (Trust me, that will make sense once you have seen this movie.)

Right from the jump, we’re thrown into the mind games of the Riddler. He wants the lies to stop, and his first riddle tells us as much when Bruce figures out that a dead man “lies still” after he’s dead. And the movie uses Bruce’s abilities as a detective to have him quickly solving the Riddler’s tricks with an ease that even has Gordon looking shocked at his ability.

For once, it felt like I was watching a detective in Bruce Wayne. It wasn’t just an offhand remark that reminded us he’s supposed to be good at solving things or Alfred Pennyworth (who is played brilliantly by Andy Serkis in the film) doing the heavy lifting. It was Bruce in the thick of it, figuring things out and focusing his energy on trying to save Gotham.

Paul Dano’s take on the Riddler is very much a stark contrast to what Jim Carrey previously brought to the role in Batman Forever. As Reeves himself already stated, the version of the Riddler we see here is more of a take on a serial killer like the Zodiac. He’s lost in his own riddles, trying to show Batman that they are connected, and yet still refusing to see someone like Bruce Wayne as an orphan. The Riddler, for all his games and knowledge, cannot see past his own hurt. That’s what is driving his actions, and it takes Bruce realizing that he can’t keep seeking vengeance to really succeed in saving Gotham.

What works about The Batman is Reeves and cowriter Peter Craig’s ability to weave suspense in with characters we know from the world of Gotham and make them all feel like a cohesive unit. It’d be so easy for someone like John Turturro’s Carmine Falcone to feel like a character thrown in for just the name recognition, but he’s woven into the narrative naturally and plays an important part in Bruce’s story.

No matter how long these characters are part of Bruce’s narrative, they are all important to the overall story and find resolutions throughout the Riddler’s games. It’s a fascinating look at character while still giving us intrigue and twists that the audience won’t be expecting. Everything about it works not only as a Batman movie, but as a detective piece, as well.

The Bat and the Cat

My most anticipated aspect of the film was the relationship between Robert Pattinson’s Batman and Zoë Kravitz’s Selina Kyle. I was not disappointed. The Bat and the Cat have been an item since the ’40s. They were romantically involved, and most live-action looks at the two have an underlying sexual tension that carries their romance throughout the films. With Kravitz and Pattinson, it’s in their dedication to working together and the way they balance one another.

The reason I love Batman and Catwoman so much is because they need the other to balance their actions out. Batman is too “by the books” at times, and Catwoman leans towards her more devious attributes when she’s left to her own devices. Together, they make a perfect pair, and that also makes their more romantic moments make sense. Selina has never had someone she can rely on, and Bruce hasn’t felt like he could open up to anyone else.

They each need someone, and they find it in each other in this film in a way that makes me long for more.

A Batman film for Bruce Wayne fans

The legacy of Batman onscreen has been that we’ve seen Thomas and Martha Wayne die over and over again, that Bruce is a human being who gets beat up a lot and has a lot of money. What he hasn’t been is a detective. Now, that’s changed. This is the Bruce Wayne I loved learning about in the comics. It’s the Bruce I’ve been longing to see on the screen, and Matt Reeves and screenwriter Peter Craig gave us a fresh look at the Dark Knight and the darkness that can consume Gotham, and I, personally, hope we get more tales of Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne from the duo.

(image: Warner Bros.)

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She/Her. A writer who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.