The Batman

The Batman

This particular superhero’s story has always been a playground for exploring his vulnerability alongside a grownup display of masculinity. Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne might be the softest render of the character we’ve seen so far. He’s grappling with the idea of overcoming the fear of loss, while also handling the gritty business of beating crime in his city. He’s a young guy who goes from a vigilante thirsting for vengeance, to one who wants to be a representation of hope for his people. The film packs in this elegant coming-of-age arc inside an engaging detective thriller narrative. Matt Reeves has interpreted this superhero in a brooding noir setting to great effect. With the extent of darkness that has already been explored in Nolan’s version of the same hero, the film earns its own merits in a similar space, which is quite a feat. Never does it get loud or showy of its unique attributes.

The screenplay pieces together verbose riddles and action setpieces in a coherent manner, with the pacing providing ample breathing room for both these ends to land their punches. Paul Dano’s Riddler is a compelling villain, whose riddles are designed to impress, but I wish the film did more to humanise his character. I believe this is the key difference between this version and Nolan’s – exploration of a villain’s psychological depths. We do get Riddler’s motives, his character looks logically well put-together at plot-level, but I wish the film spent more time with him in isolation to leave a deeper emotional impact. All we learn about him is through Batman, and that sort of scratches away from the character’s ethos. I’m not aware of how the comic-book source material for this character is shaped, so I wouldn’t know if Reeves was going for a simplistic rendition on purpose. But this is the only hurdle I faced in an otherwise emotionally convincing story.

This film is the potency of the superhero genre in full display, with assured pacing, gritty imagery (stunning work yet again by Greig Fraser) and finally, the sense of a filmmaker’s vision – something that’s been absent from the genre for quite a while now. Matt Reeves hands us a winner, and I sincerely hope he gets to grow this into a trilogy.

Bullet point thoughts post Count 2:

  • I still thoroughly love the sombre mood and spending time in this rendition of Gotham. This is a melancholic tale at heart, and the film peaked for me with Bruce’s monologues, which are arguably used as cheatcodes to magnify a faint character arc.
  • This film could’ve tried to establish Bruce’s adulation of Thomas Wayne, before he learns about the latter’s murky past. Him feeling cheated by the revelation would’ve hit us harder in that case. The poignant conversation with Alfred sort of masks this lapse in the screenplay.
  • The Selina-Batman relationship makes sense as an idea, but it isn’t as affecting as it should be. Their moments are staged beautifully, but again, they work as moments rather than as a part of Batman’s arc. Her presence has affected Bruce, but I merely saw it more than I felt it.
  • In spite of these visible flaws, I’m going to hold this film close to myself. It’s also self-aware of its overt darkness, illustrated by the digs at Batman’s caped presence at crime scenes. Even the slights on his privilege, allows for a holistic look at Bruce’s melancholy.
  • + Random parallel, but this can also be seen as a story of Bruce Wayne’s own red-pill (vengeance) worldview being weaponised by someone from the very element he’s fighting, totally in line with what happened to Matrix’s red-pill allegory in our real world.


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