‘The Batman’ Review: The Early Days of the World’s Greatest Detective

Photo+Courtesy+of+the+Chaparrral.+%E2%80%98The+Batman%E2%80%99+in+theaters+now.+

Photo Courtesy of the Chaparrral. ‘The Batman’ in theaters now.

Warning: This article contains minor spoilers for The Batman

It’s official, Gotham City has a new Batman. According to Collider, Director Matt Reeves’ The Batman’ has taken moviegoers by storm, hauling in $500 million globally one week into its release. Although it’s no secret that superhero movies are keeping theaters financially afloat these days, why another one, you ask? The advantage this fresh installment holds is that it’s not another origin story, but it covers the early detective days of Batman instead. With the handful of Caped Crusader content, none had emphasized that Batman was a detective before he was a glorified hero. The Batman does not deliver the glorious hero vibe yet, but leaves room for it and delivers the best comic book film in years.

Robert Pattinson (Good Time, Tenet) dons the suit this time around. He immediately wiped my memory clean of the DC Extended Universe’s Batfleck, a.k.a. Ben Affleck’s Batman, since. His Batman is new to the crime scenes, hiding out like a street rat, rejecting his family’s billionaire status completely with Wayne Enterprises currently in limbo after his parents’ death. So, he masks up and hunts down criminals by putting them in their place as an act to avenge. This catches the eye of the Riddler (Paul Dano), who, for lack of better wording, goes on a killing spree, leaving behind clues throughout Gotham using everything from comical greeting cards to gifts hiding explosives. His goal is to take down Gotham’s divided hierarchy and he addresses the Batman along the way.

The movie holds a solemn and dark weight, backed by a mix of Ave Maria, Nirvana’s Something In The Way, and Michael Giacchino’s original score. With gorgeous cinematography, it effortlessly displays a noir-like look with warm accents, not to mention that most shootings took place in Liverpool, England, making Gotham more gothic. We know Bruce is brooding and Batman is vengeance, but he also encounters Catwoman, brilliantly portrayed by Zoe Kravitz. Catwoman Selina Kyle is frantically searching for her lost friend, Annika, and risks everything to save her if it’s not already too late. Bruce and Selina team up, and boom, we have the Bat and the Cat. Kravitz and Pattinson are effortless with their dialogue, combat, and on-screen chemistry. I’ll say every actor in The Batman knocked it out of the park, whether it was together or alone.

The only thing that irked me in this film was the active use of technology. Maybe it’s the noir setting throwing me off, and I do want this film to somehow be tied to the same timeline as 2019’s Joker. Still, something about the gloominess and exterior shots have me thinking it is older than the present day, that is, until I see a 55″ inch plasma television broadcasting the news or Riddler’s live stream of radical followers on social media. It’s weird to me. It reminds me of this YouTube video where Batman can Google Riddler’s riddles for answers instead of going on a wild goose chase. One example in the film would be the funeral scene. The stellar scene reveals Riddler sending Agent Colson into a funeral Bruce is attending. This causes commotion, especially for Bruce and the Gotham City Police Department. Then Colson’s phone, duck-taped to his wrist, has a video call from the Riddler, provoking Batman to answer. He does, and Riddler starts his riddles, with Batman immediately catching on. Commissioner Gordon, played by Jeffrey Wright, is by Batman’s side and when Gordon fumbles, he looks to Batman for help answering before a bomb blows. It’s an intense scene, and there’s no better time for your good ol’ friend Google in that scenario if modern technology exists here.

Despite its running time of nearly three hours, the film consistently keeps you on the edge of your seat. The subtlety plants more clues as to how everything will unfold. Towards the end, when Batman interrogates the Riddler, Riddler mentions the victim he never caught, dragging out the name, “Bruce Wayyyne.” Bruce, behind his mask, becomes visibly concerned. From facial expressions alone, Bruce thinks one of two things: Riddler knows Batman is Bruce Wayne and has it out for him, or Riddler wants Batman to team up with him to capture Wayne. That’s up for the audience to decide; the latter could easily be a red herring. It also gives the audience a satisfying ending. Batman saves the citizens from a flood caused by Riddler’s explosives and his army, and you’ll happen to see the deceased mayor’s son the most since Bruce sympathizes with the young boy, rescuing him first. Batman lights a flare, guiding the citizens to safety with the swelling of the Giacchino’s score, closing to a perfect resolution. Batman might be ‘the shadows,’ but he is also Gotham’s glimpse of light. Screenwriters Peter Craig, Mattson Tomlin, and even Matt Reeves, truly succeeded with this screenplay and its end result.

With a little bit of Batman: The Long Halloween and a little inspiration derived from Year One, The Batman stands strong on its own. It’s a testament to Reeves, Pattinson, and Detective Comics. Batman is arguably the most iconic hero to date, and it’s about time we bring his moniker of the World’s Greatest Detective to light, preferably using a Bat-Signal.