When I heard that they were making another Batman movie my initial thought was one of utter apathy. With so much great Batman content out there already, I didn’t see the need to add another one to the mix. On top of that, Robert Pattinson was cast to play Batman and I wasn’t really excited about that either. This came from an unfamiliarity with his work outside of Harry Potter and the Twilight series with the latter being one I personally never really saw the point in existing. When it came time for release of the movie, I had no plans to see it. However, being stuck at home while being in between jobs and a love of going to the movie theater pushed me to pull the trigger on seeing the movie opening weekend. I went in with low expectations and something amazing happened.
My expectations were some lowlife criminal trying to carry out his scheme and then out of nowhere Batman comes and beats him into the ground. I forgot about my apprehension within the first 10 minutes. I’ve thought a lot about why I enjoyed this so much and why I am even more excited for the continuation of the story and I’ve come up with 3 reasons.
This Batman Feels More Grounded
It is impossible not to compare this movie to the most recent Batman trilogy done by Christopher Nolan. While this trilogy is amazing, Batman sometimes feels very out of touch. This is especially seen in the tech that he uses. Batman feels overpowered. Military grade tanks and weapons. Flying technology that allows him to soar around the city with ease. Explosives, armor and in the Dark Knight’s case, a literal sonar of the entire city in order to locate the Joker. It feels over the top.
This Batman however tones everything down. The gadgets are there but they feel less ridiculous. For example, this Batman has a contact lens that he uses to record everything so he can watch it later. The contact is nothing special and the screen he uses to watch is not some high tech screen. In fact it seems a little low tech for normal Batman standards. The other gadgets seem more grounded in reality and less fantastical.
You also see this in the portrayal of Bruce Wayne. The Robert Pattinson version is much more moody and depressing which again feels more realistic. Again let’s take the Dark Knight as an example. You mean to tell me that Bruce Wayne stays out all night fighting crime and then has the energy to throw extravagant parties, attend business meetings and actually pay attention, and also be in a relationship with someone! I can barely make it through a day when I get 8 hours of sleep and I am definitely not expending the energy fighting crime throughout the night. This Bruce Wayne has divorced himself from society. People don’t see him. He sleeps late. He is exhausted both physically and emotionally. It feels more like a character I can connect with. Granted, I am not running a billion dollar company or rubbing elbows with the elite of my town. But I am exhausted physically and emotionally pretty much all the time! This makes Batman a more relatable character in my mind.
Batman: The Detective
This movie leans into the detective side of Batman. The recent Batman video games were a smashing success for many reasons but one of them was that you had to do some detective work. Yes there was plenty of dealing out justice with your fists but the detective side was also prevalent. This was something that I thought was missing in the previous Batman films. This movie leans into it heavily. Within the first 15 minutes of the movie, his detective skills are on display. This thread is tugged throughout the movie and done fabulously. It isn’t forced or done in a campy way but it recognizes that Bruce Wayne is an intelligent human being who not only relies on his tech but his brain to fight injustice. It also fits really well with the main villain of the movie the Riddler who by his nature is a more cerebral villain.
In previous Batman movies, the focus is all on the tech and how rich Batman is. In The Dark Knight, when Batman has to find the Joker, he doesn’t brilliantly deduce where the Joker is based on clues. He simply unveils a secret and possible immoral technology that helps Batman locate him in a jiffy. While very cool, it feels like he has an answer for everything and doesn’t actually have to think. Oh there’s a problem? Poof I have the tech answer. He feels like an immortal tech god rather than a regular man in a bat costume. In this movie, they didn’t trade out immortal tech god for amazing riddle solving genius who has all the answers at the drop of a hat. He struggles with some of the riddles. He gets some of them wrong at first before ultimately figuring them out. The human aspect of Batman is one of the traits that I believe attracts people to the character of Batman. It’s a regular guy so we can see ourselves in him and this movie does a great job at showcasing that side of Batman.
The Ending Leaves You Wanting More
The ending leaves you wanting more and doesn’t end how you think it will. Yes there is some predictability. Ultimately at the end, the Riddler is in prison at Arkham and his army of easily moldable goons have been subdued but it doesn’t really feel like a win at the end. The city has been under assault for a couple weeks with many high profile people being brutally murdered. This culminates with 7 bombs going off and the city flooding while a band of mercenaries terrorizes more high profile people. The ending shot is Gotham still heavily flooded while people are being given medical attention. It doesn’t feel like Batman has necessarily won.
This event will have lasting effects on the city and on Batman. Remember how much people talked about the end of Infinity War in the MCU? For a year, we talked fan theories and how they were going to bring everyone back. It built anticipation for the next movie but it also has been a catalyst event that has had an impact on the stories of multiple characters. The Snap or Blip or whatever you want to call it, has lasting impacts on the story. While this movie is not on the scale of the MCU, it feels like this event will have a lasting effect on the rest of the series of movies. What are the long term consequences of these high profile killings? Will Bruce Wayne start to be more involved in Gotham as Bruce and not Batman? Will the Riddler make a comeback? How will Gotham rebuild after all of this flooding and destruction? All of these questions and more linger as the ending credits roll.
I haven’t even mentioned the performances of other side characters such as Catwoman and Penguin. Catwoman brought great chemistry to the screen with Batman and the Penguin brought some light hearted humor as well as an established villain of the underbelly of Gotham. There is so much more that is good about this movie. I get it. You’re tired of Batman. There’s a lot out there between live action films, video games and cartoons. But don’t miss this. You will be on the edge of your seat from start to finish and feel the joy of enjoying the Batman franchise all over again.