Today, Batman is one of the comic book characters that we have had the most different versions of in all media. Since his jump to the big screen, there are many actors who have given life to the Bat Man, the most recent, Ben Affleck in Zack Snyder’s films. Not so long ago we saw Christian Bale as the Dark Knight, in the favorite version of the character for many fans, and soon we will have Michael Keaton’s back in ‘The Flash’ and ‘Batgirl’, protected by the DC multiverse. Not to mention series, animation, video games and the comics themselves. It is clear that Batman is a popular character and is called to be reinterpreted over and over again, always raising great expectations.
The new film Batman comes from the hand of Matt Reeves and in the shoes of Robert Pattinson, a surprising casting choice that sparked an intense debate for and against that has not stopped at any time since it was announced back in 2019. Now , after a long shoot, an endless wait (the first trailer was released a year ago) and several setbacks due to the pandemic, ‘The Batman’ finally arrives in theaters, surrounded by huge expectations to find out if the movie was worth the wait and if Pattinson lives up to the DC myth. A very difficult challenge.
After the box office disappointment of ‘Justice League’, Warner partially abandoned its plans to build an interconnected DC universe like that of Marvel Studios and began developing independent projects in which several versions of the same characters would exist under the same roof. . Thus we have had several Jokers (Jared Leto, Joaquin Phoenix) and under these new rules Pattinson’s Batman, initially completely separate from the rest of the DC Universe and existing in his own version of Gotham, with which a new saga begins.
Although Batman fans do not get tired of the character, it is true that, to present him from scratch once again with other iterations so close, something different had to be done to avoid repetition and boredom. I mean, we’ve already seen Bruce Wayne’s parents die so many times, that the tragedy has basically become a meta joke. Fortunately, Reeves had a very clear vision for this new start to the Batman legend.and that was to introduce us to his story in half resthat is, avoiding telling his origin story again.
It is something similar, saving the distances especially in terms of tone, to what Marvel and Sony did with the Spider-Man of the UCM. Everyone knows what happened to Uncle Ben and how Peter Parker became the Wall-crawler, just as everyone knows Batman’s past (or thinks they know him, as we shall now see). Thus, the correct decision not to return to the beginning again is appreciated and, although it does not eliminate it, it helps to avoid déjà vu. Of course, Batman’s origin remains crucial to the character and his development in this installment, but at least this time we don’t have to watch it for the umpteenth time. Was not necessary to.
What Reeves has done to separate his Batman from the rest of the versions is return it to its detective origins, back to his comic book roots as DC’s Sherlock Holmes. Especially the first half of ‘The Batman’ is built like a investigative thriller with procedural elementsin which Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and Bat Man team up to follow the clues after a macabre murder and stop a Enigma (Paul Dano), immersing himself in a twisted mystery to prevent the villain from carrying out his sinister plans.
The investigation also leads ‘The Batman’ along the paths of film noir and gangsters, with Gotham being the ideal location, as usual, to explore system failures, political corruption and even police malpractice, a scenario in which a vigilante like Batman becomes necessary. It is in this context that Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), also appears, a mysterious young woman who works in the Gotham underworld and ends up allying with the Bat Man in her investigations, although with her own interests. In her case, we do see more of the first steps in the character’s history, but with that twist that turns her into a different Catwoman than the ones we’ve seen before.
Because that is the general note of the film, in which Reeves has decided to present all the characters from a different point of view, delving into their personalities from another angle and giving them a more austere and human aspect, which separates them from previous installments. DC, in some cases radically. That way, the director gets what this new Batman needed, intelligently dissociate yourself from the above, which is a lot and is very recent.
Bruce looking inside
Parallel to the criminal plot and the descent into the underworld of Gotham, Batman’s internal conflict unfolds. Unsurprisingly knowing the ‘Twilight’ and ‘Good Time’ actor, Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne is different, surrounded by a halo of weirdness. The most interesting thing is that Reeves places the character in the process of self-evaluation. As the film explores the corruption of the system, injustice and the role of the authorities, Bruce questions himself and his role as a vigilante, always linked to his traumatic past and his thirst for revenge, derived from what happened to him. their parents. This Bruce is not the millionaire playboy we knew, he is a more withdrawn, more introspective, even more lonely variant of the character, which is saying something. A man who only finds a reason to live when he puts on the Batman suit and consequently becomes addicted to it..
‘The Batman’ rewrites Bruce’s past, without changing its main parameters, and deconstructs it to find what makes him a hero. And also in a human being. For this, the interpretation of Pattinson is key. It is obvious that the actor has fully immersed himself in the psyche of the character, however, his work is somewhat irregular, especially in the facet of Bruce Wayne. As Batman, Pattinson has undeniable presence and his voice work is terrific. However, like Bruce, there are moments when the actor’s introspection and monotony get out of hand. You can clearly see his intention and it is consistent with his approach to the character (which has never been the paradigm of joy, of course), but builds a Bruce so hermetic and impenetrable even to be him, that it can be difficult to connect.
As for the rest of the iconic DC characters that appear in the film, Commissioner Gordon is perhaps the one that most resembles previous versions, although here he is presented as an investigative partner of Bruce, an ally who also questions the role of the organization he works for as he explores Gotham’s corruption. The Penguin is another total standoff, with Colin Farrell completely unrecognizable under layers of makeup and prosthetics.. His participation, although very brief, serves to connect the film directly with the most mythical mobster cinema (‘The Price of Power’, ‘The Godfather’), which has influenced Reeves so much when it comes to shaping his Gotham. Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman is one of the strong points of the film. The actress captures the irresistible elegance and feline sensuality of the character, but at the same time makes it her own.. Her chemistry with Pattison is correct, although it would not be the highlight of the film. If there’s anything to blame for this Selina, it’s that Reeves sometimes doesn’t seem to know what to do with her or how to smoothly insert her into the narrative.
Finally, who is crowned as the film’s scene stealer is Paul Dano as Enigma. The villain version of him is simply terrifying. This Edward Nygma is the polar opposite of what Jim Carrey did in ‘Batman Forever’, retaining his core traits – he’s the same puzzle-obsessed madman who confuses the police and Batman with complex riddles that give clues to his crimes. , but taking it more into the realm of serial killers and terrorists. In fact, Reeves has confessed that he was inspired by the Zodiac killer to shape him, and it is obvious at all times. Swapping the garish green suit for a disturbing terrorist outfit, Enigma is brought to life again by Dano, who throws himself into the character. His performance is chilling, disturbing, and right up there with the best DC villains we’ve seen on screen. (Oscar’s conversation around him will soon appear).
Manifesto in favor of change
‘The Batman’ benefits from Reeves’ clear vision of Gotham and the Dark Knight. It seems that Warner has finally learned not to interfere too much in the work of his filmmakers and give them creative freedom to develop his ideas. Within the confines of the PG-13 rating, sure. Because ‘The Batman’ is not for people over 18 like ‘Joker’ or ‘The Suicide Squad’, but rather seeks not to leave out the younger fans of the Bat Man in order to increase its chances of bursting the box office. Although some blood is missing and it is clear that Reeves could not take some aspects further, in general, ‘The Batman’ is one of the most adult and risky PG-13 movies we’ve seen recentlya job that defies the limits of such qualification.
Now, Reeves’ ambition does get out of hand in one specific aspect: duration. The film has a footage of almost three hours and one wonders if it took so long to tell this story.. We are not talking about a movie with a thousand and one plots and characters like ‘Eternals’ or ‘Avengers: Endgame’, but rather a more contained story, an investigative thriller that could have been perfectly told in less time. In the end, the duration -added to the solemn and affected tone- ends up affecting the rhythm, lengthens the scenes too much (especially in their first half) and makes the action take too long to arrive, considerably lowering the whole. And it is not that Reeves forgets the action, that when there is, it is forceful and technically impeccable, but the way in which it is dosed can weigh down the development. Fortunately, the best in this regard is reserved for us for the final stretch, an intense climax that manages to capture the epic quality of superhero movies without resorting to the umpteenth end of the world.
Despite its flaws and that duration that makes the story get out of hand, there’s no denying Reeves’ obvious passion for the character, which is reflected in the numerous nods to its history (including without detriment to its accessibility as a film) and in the care it has placed in all aspects. The elegant mise-en-scène, his sense of the epic on a human scale (Batman’s first appearance makes your hair stand on end), the dark and enigmatic atmosphere of Gotham, the care he has put into the music – between grunge and requiem to define the character, with an exuberant score by Michael Giacchino, which combines funeral compositions with overwhelming romantic melodies-, and that interest in telling something more than a classic superhero story.
Because in the end, this new Batman is a Batman for today’s world, and that is perhaps its greatest success. Especially in its final stretch, the film makes its intentions clear with a marked political charge, putting the finishing touch to an interesting if imperfect reinterpretation of Batman as a hero and a person in the context of a Gotham in the process of change. A Gotham that, as always, reflects our own world and here tells us about how resistance to that change creates monsters. This is how Reeves invites us to embrace the new versions of iconic DC characters, achieving something that seemed very difficult: tell us something new about a world we thought we had already been told everything about.
The best: The successful psychological reinterpretation of the characters. Your risk in every way. And Paul Dano as Enigma, BRUTAL.
Worst: The duration is not justified and Pattinson does not finish taking over the character.