‘The Batman’ is a dark story that fits perfectly in the anthology of the hero. Whereas Synder took his inspiration from ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ storyline, it feels as if Reeves found his inspiration from ‘Batman: The Long Halloween.’
Despite the Riddler being made out to be the primary villain, the film’s real villain feels like it’s the city of Gotham itself, a city that is infamous for its crime and depravity.
Feeling as though he has found a kindred spirit in Batman, the homicidal Riddler begins playing a game with Batman, murdering those he feels are behind the corruption in Gotham and leaving clues designed to expose their misdeeds at every murder scene.
It’s been theorized that Batman’s villains are a reflection of his personality. This film sets out to prove this, as the caped crusader must match wits with a man who rivals his intelligence, and potentially even surpasses him in this instance, as it turns out that the Riddler’s cat and mouse game with Batman is designed to help him find the missing piece of his puzzle.
As he works to investigate the case, Bruce is forced to re-evaluate his perception of life and discover what it means to be the savior of Gotham.
The film’s focus on Riddler’s murders makes ‘The Batman’ feel more like a crime drama than a superhero movie. We are treated to the occasional scene of Batman dishing out justice onto the criminals of Gotham. Still, the majority of the film is dedicated to stopping the Riddler before he can dish out his altered perception of justice.
This version of Batman has only been donning the cape and cowl for two years, and unlike Nolan’s version of the character, he hasn’t built himself up an arsenal of weaponry. Instead, the film taps into Batman’s previously unused skill of being a detective. Despite being known as the “world’s greatest detective,” this aspect of the character has been absent from most of the previous adaptations.
Batman is a complex character in that he’s two sides on one coin; there’s the billionaire Bruce Wayne and his nocturnal alter ego. While some actors who have worn the cowl before Pattison have been able to find a harmony between both aspects of the character, Pattison was unable to achieve this successfully. While his performance as a dark, moody Batman will be talked about, and his name will undoubtedly rival the top third or fourth spot on people’s list as the best Batman actor, regrettably, his emo rendition of Bruce Wayne will have to rival George Clooney as the worst.
Along with this new version of Batman, we are also treated to a warped version of the Riddler, one that resembles a serial killer more than anything we have seen so far. Despite this change in the character’s personality, the film actually pays tribute to his origin story, including how he first became infatuated with puzzles at a young age.
The best character revamp comes in the form of Colin Farrell’s portrayal of the Penguin. When Danny Devito portrayed the character in 1992’s ‘Batman Returns,’ he was envisioned as a grotesque cross between a man and the flightless bird he derives his name from. This new version, however, loses the inhuman qualities but makes sure to still retain many of his defining characteristics, including his large beak-like nose, receding hairline, and obese size. This closer representation of the character from the original comics also re-establishes him as a mobster and nightclub owner as he is most often depicted in the source material.
Over the years, we have been treated to many different variations of Batman that have ranged from the campy portrayal of the character by Adam West to the more bloodthirsty version recently portrayed by Ben Affleck.
This new flawed, inexperienced, and reckless take on the dark knight is unlike anything we have seen before, which is saying a lot for a character who has appeared in countless films, shows, and cartoons over the years.
On a scale of 1-5 stars, I give this movie 4 stars.
Although this film is far from the best Batman movie ever made, its darker tone and grisly premise will guarantee that ‘The Batman’ will be talked about for a long time.