By Connor Mongan 23’
After nearly a decade of development bogged down by script changes, actors and directors dropping out of the project, and a global pandemic, The Batman finally hit theaters on March 5. The film, which rebooted Batman after Ben Affleck’s turn as the caped crusader in the DC Extended Universe, features an all-star cast including Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, and Paul Dano.
An intimidating aspect of The Batman is its lengthy runtime of 2 hours and 56 minutes, but the film efficiently moves things along and keeps it interesting. Many fans may be relieved to hear that this iteration of DC Comics’ marquee hero skips the origin story and instead jumps right into the second year of Batman’s crime-fighting career.
After bursting onto the scene as a teenage heartthrob in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the Twilight saga, Pattinson struggled to be taken seriously. However, this assumption changed when he began to take on more esteemed roles in the late 2010s. He proved to have serious acting talent in Good Time and The Lighthouse, and if he had any doubters left, they were likely silenced by The Batman. With the suit on, Pattinson plays a dark, brooding Batman who sometimes forgets to pull his punches and fights relentlessly to rid the streets of Gotham and avenge his parents’ death. Without the suit, Pattinson plays a similarly dark and brooding Bruce Wayne, who cuts himself off from the world and struggles to separate himself from the larger-than-life vigilante that he moonlights as. It’s an interesting take and a refreshing change of pace from other “Bruce Waynes,” who often just fit right into society as stereotypical billionaire philanthropists.
Dano is terrifying and sensational as The Riddler, a crazed killer obsessed with leaving clues at the scene of the crime. In interviews, the actor has said that the role was so extreme that he lost sleep after his time in the part. Dano’s Riddler is on par with other great villains in Batman movies, such as Heath Ledger’s Joker and Tom Hardy’s Bane. Colin Farrell’s Penguin and John Turturro’s Carmine Falcone make up the other villains in The Batman, as Batman attempts to foil The Riddler and Gotham City’s criminal underworld.
Besides the outstanding cast and riveting story, the film would be incomplete without Hollywood legend Michael Giacchino’s thrilling score pulsating throughout the film. The music fits the gritty atmosphere of Gotham City, and Batman’s theme perfectly suits the character. Giacchino’s score raged throughout the film’s action sequences, which are few and far between but make the most of that screen time. The fight scenes are choreographed exceptionally well, the camera seeming to linger on the brutal combat scenes, allowing the viewer to see everything that’s going on and to feel as if they are right there next to the action. Unfortunately, numerous modern action movies seem to share the problem of too many camera cuts during fight scenes, making them extremely difficult to follow and, ironically, dull. The Batman avoids this problem, and this may have been my favorite part of the film.
If you like comic book movies that are willing to break the traditional mold and try something new, check out The Batman. Often, the film is closer to a thriller or a mystery rather than a big-budget action movie, which absolutely works in its favor. Director Matt Reeves refused to work on the film unless he was given complete control by the studio and wasn’t afraid to risk it. Many doubted the casting of Pattinson at first, but the actor was outstanding in his debut. Reeves’s vision for a different iteration of Batman will be discussed for a long time, and this is a film that you don’t want to miss. The Batman is currently available for streaming on HBO Max and can be bought on Amazon Prime. If you missed it in the theaters, this is the perfect chance to experience this impressive iteration of one of DC’s famous heroes.
Batman cover image by John Flock ’22