Warning: SPOILERS for The Batman are in play. If you don’t want to be ruined on all of the twisted fun, head back to our twist-free coverage on CinemaBlend.
It’s time, dear readers: The Batman is finally in theaters, and we can start to talk freely about what we’ve just seen. Theories, commentary and preferences on which Batman actor is the best are all going to start flooding the internet. I’m not sorry for this contribution to the discourse I’m about to willingly offer, as I believe that Matt Reeves made the best live-action Batman movie ever, putting it above even Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
Fair warning: you need to have seen the new film ahead of time, as I’m about to dig deep into The Batman spoilers and plot points. You’re probably still a bit cross with my mere suggestion that the Nolan trilogy could be outdone by one film. From here on out, it’s the point of no return, as I lay down my case for why this is the dawn of a new age of Bat-supremacy.
Year Two Batman Is The Most Compelling Point To Tell A Story From
Time and again, we as an audience have been introduced to Bruce Wayne’s tragic origins as Batman. From that point, we’re given a pretty quick escalation to Gotham’s Caped Crusader being a seasoned hero who knows what he’s doing. While Christopher Nolan’s entire trilogy took its time to tell such a story, that’s basically the trajectory we got.
The Batman throws the typical playbook out of the window, and gives us “Year Two” of Bruce Wayne’s crime fighting career. It’s those imperfections that really start to lay the foundation for The Batman, as mining those in-between years leads to even more improvements. That same strategy applies when looking at the man himself, as a younger Batman leaves some doors open for development.
Matt Reeves Approach To Bruce Wayne And Batman Is A Fresh Take
Still pummeling street toughs into submission and not really caring about the Wayne fortune, Bruce Wayne’s early days as The Batman consist of an unpolished quality. Even imperfect relationships with people like Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis) and Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) have moments where they’re really tested. We mostly see Batman, not Bruce, navigating through life in Robert Pattinson’s portrayal.
While the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale movies had conflicts between Batman/Bruce Wayne and his allies, they always felt like they operated within the boundaries. Both the vigilante and the playboy had their due, with the pain of his parents’ deaths quelled rather easily in comparison. In The Batman, we see our hero allowing himself to be Bruce Wayne again as he further processes his grief. By the end of the movie, a young man unafraid to die for justice realizes it’s the living that are our true hope.
Batman Gets To Be A Detective Again
Batman has always held the mantle of “World’s Greatest Detective,” and both Christopher Nolan and Matt Reeves incorporate that into their versions of the character. However, Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was more of a James Bond-esque spin on Gotham’s savior. That’s not a complaint, especially from me of all people, but that’s not quite the detective we’ve expected on the screen.
The Batman absolutely lets Bruce Wayne’s detective skills go to work, and in some cases Alfred even gets to help. There’s still a little Bond-style action, especially in the realm of gadgets, but it doesn’t get in the way of showing Batman’s deductive process. He’s absolutely going to need it too, as the Matt Reeves franchise-starter pits our hero against his most crafty foe of all.
The Batman Proves Grounded Villains Are Far From Boring
Batman's rogues gallery has always been home to outlandish villains, and even Christopher Nolan’s trilogy had a limit to the foes it'd rope in. It’s always a concern when it comes to this franchise, because if you want to stay grounded, there’s a firm line that can’t be crossed. While The Batman holds that same line, it proves that even in a grounded world, the coterie of villains available isn’t a limitation.
Paul Dano’s Riddler is a chilling example, as his Zodiac Killer inspired variant gives the character the modern boost it needs. Not to mention that Colin Farrell’s Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot almost steals the show, as he plays the character’s organized crime background with levity and gravitas. With obvious plans for that “Unnamed Arkham Prisoner” (Barry Keoghan), who’s absolutely The Joker, villains in this universe are going to be even more intriguing.
Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman Is Miles Ahead Of Anne Hathaway’s Version
Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) has always had a complicated relationship with Batman, and it mostly winds up getting romantic. There’s almost a shorthand that dictates she get close to Batman, flirt it up and either slink away or stand and fight. Anne Hathaway’s Selena Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises fits that description to a tee, while Kravitz blows it apart.
Zoë Kravitz gets to kick ass and flirt with Robert Pattinson’s Batman, and the chemistry is rock solid. Seeing Catwoman on her own quest for vengeance, the uniqueness of her portrayal really shines as Selena is just as well-drawn as anyone else. The Batman takes after For Your Eyes Only and Quantum of Solace by using a female counterpart to Bruce Wayne’s crimefighter as a valuable partner, worthy adversary and ultimately the one that got away. It’s a combination that lands on its feet.
Even The Wayne Legacy Isn’t Perfect In The Batman
Thomas and Martha Wayne have always been the Kennedys of Gotham City, as their influence and charity were shown as cut short by a mindless killing. Batman Begins sticks to that playbook, and Christopher Nolan sells the hell out of the moment without question. Just as it skips the gruesome details we’ve already seen, Matt Reeves’ version paints the Wayne legacy in a rather interesting light.
A whole subplot involving Thomas Wayne and his trust in his friend Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) to “take care” of a situation becomes a scandal that paints the Waynes in the worst light possible. Adding an extra layer of texture, we learn that Martha was actually from the Arkham family, and spent some time in a psychiatric facility; which was then used to blackmail Thomas into his wrongdoing. The Batman uses the building blocks that any good Bruce Wayne story would include, but shapes them in such a different way that the audience can still be taken by surprise.
Large Action Set Pieces Don’t Interfere With Character Building
I love Christopher Nolan’s gigantic set-pieces as much as the next person, especially those that made for a treasure trove of trivia for The Dark Knight. Flipping a tractor trailer with a real stunt driver and blowing up an actual hospital make a statement, and Nolan’s Batman take has always been confident in its visual flare. Looking back at the love for The Dark Knight, and the entire trilogy, the movies are a bit disconnected from the characters, with adrenaline doing most of the driving.
The Batman does have its own choice set-pieces of excitement and action, but it uses them sparingly when compared to the Dark Knight trilogy. Laying down the foundation for a potential franchise is definitely in the cards, and there are loose threads that are waiting to be picked up on at a later date. None of that gets in the way of telling a singular story, which lets characters breathe and action sequences shine, both in equal measure.
Pulling all of these threads together, I absolutely believe that Matt Reeves and co-writer Peter Craig put together a sterling franchise started in The Batman. It plays like it’s a standalone story, but still has room for the future, as we saw with the state of affairs left by film’s ending. Through a shrewd decision making process, this movie has outdone Christopher Nolan’s entire trilogy, even on its best day.
That’s not to put down the movies that came before, but rather to say that maybe Reeves and company saw what was done, and took it further. A debt will always be owed to the Dark Knight trilogy, and I’d like to think that even Nolan himself would be proud of where things are heading. Of course, this is all opinion, and you may need to see The Batman again before weighing in.
Or perhaps you’ve just read through this rundown so you can spoil some of the particulars beforehand. In either case, you can catch Robert Pattinson’s debut in the DC Comics universe, as The Batman is in theaters now. To check out what other movies are headed to theaters in the year to come, head over to the schedule of 2022 movie releases and satisfy your curiosity.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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