‘The Batman’: A Story of a Man who Uncovers Corruption in Gotham City

Photo+Courtesy+of+Digital+Spy.

Photo Courtesy of Digital Spy.

The Batman follows the same formula that has led to the failure of previous DC Comics films: introducing several characters at once and outside of a hero origin narrative. But this time, producer, writer, and director Matt Reeves has managed to nail the balance of action, passion, and mystery to create a wonderful superhero picture and a fantastic film in its own right with a 86% rating from Rotten Tomatoes. 

Since Tim Burton’s introduction of Batman to the big screen in 1989, almost a dozen films have focused on the Caped Crusader. However, Reeves’ take is the most ambitious because of how gloomy and dark it is. If anyone thought Batman movies couldn’t grow much darker, they’d be wrong. The Batman was not based on a specific comic story, according to Reeves’ Press Conference during the Television Critics Association panel. Instead, he took inspiration from a variety of sources, including Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s mega-popular 1987 arc “Year One,” Darwyn Cooke’s 2000 crossover “Ego,” and Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s 2010 crossover “Zero Year.”

The Batman portrays Bruce Wayne, played by Robert Pattinson, a few years into his reign as the Caped Crusader. When a ruthless killer known as the Riddler (Paul Dano) begins targeting the most prominent individuals in Gotham City, Batman must decipher the clues the killer leaves behind before the Riddler’s scheme is fully completed. Wayne begins to learn precisely how closely his own life may be related to the mystery with the support of the few allies he has in James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), and Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz).

The Batman is a stylistic blend of epic crime drama, modern gothic, and psychological thriller. Following Batman and his crime-fighting companion, James Gordon, is rather exhilarating for the film’s first hour, although the plot unfolds at a highly measured pace. Reeves builds tension in the central mystery of the plot as Batman interacts with a passionate love interest, Catwoman, played by Zoe Kravitz. Her Selina Kyle is a wounded soul seeking her own brand of revenge, and she is every bit Batman’s match. In every scene, Wright as Gordon matches Pattinson’s intensity. Colin Farrell is practically unrecognizable as The Penguin, a sinister-comedy hybrid.

According to The Guardian, when Reeves revealed that he’d selected Pattinson to take up the Bat’s cape, many fans responded with apprehension. Despite the early skepticism, Pattinson is maybe the most ambitious Batman to date. He imbues the Caped Crusader with a Sherlockian element previously lacking in Batman’s fists, money, and playboy demeanor. His portrayal feels the truest to the comic character’s obsessive vengeance, and he’s able to weave in touching moments while wearing the mask. Kravitz, too, brings empathy and complexity to a character that has been reduced far too frequently to that of a femme fatale. Gone are the over-the-top sensuality and outrageous heels seen in high-stakes heists. Instead, the audience is treated to a dynamic figure that is not simply a counterpoint to Batman, but an equal to him. Kravitz’s performance stands out among an otherwise talented cast. In one scene, she’s calculating and clever, and in the next, she’s touchingly loyal and startlingly vulnerable, producing a Catwoman who is as intriguing as she is appealing.

All but three DCEU films have higher Rotten Tomatoes scores than The Batman, which trails Wonder Woman (93 percent), The Suicide Squad (91 percent), and Shazam! (90 percent). While three DCEU movies have higher Tomatometer scores than The Batman, the real average rating of all reviews submitted is 7.6 out of 10, which is higher than every DCEU movie save Wonder Woman, which has a 7.7 out of 10. When compared to all other DCEU audience scores, The Batman comes near the top, surpassing all except Zack Snyder’s Justice League (94 percent) and Joker (90 percent). Given the relatively high critic and audience scores, it’s no surprise that the discrepancy between critics and audiences is also far lower than essentially every other film in the DCEU (notorious for some dramatic divisions between reviewers and audiences, according to Rotten Tomatoes). The Batman’s Rotten Tomatoes critics score is just three points higher than its audience score, which Birds of Prey only beat with a difference of just one point (with a 79 percent overall score). Overall, The Batman has shown to be one of the greatest adaptations to the popular character.