Corner of Film’s most anticipated film of 2022 has arrived, and The Batman is everything we’d hoped it would be.
From its very first scene, The Batman has as much in common with modern horror as it does with superhero films. By jumping straight to year two of Pattinson’s Batman, The Batman skips over any unnecessary rehashing of origin stories while still making the character feel new. Making brilliant use of darkness and shadows, The Batman builds a sense of unease while eliciting a sense of awe – it’s a gorgeously dark film, with light only used sparingly as necessary.
Visually, The Batman is note-perfect. Its rainy, bleak Gotham feels like a character all its own, with its buildings’ interiors subtly reflecting the story’s class divide – there are those living in squalor, and those in grandiose mansions filled with antiques. Robert Pattinson’s Batman operates in both, transcending Gotham’s surface problems and cutting right to its core.
Pattinson’s Batman is as close to a perfect adaptation of the character as possible. He’s serious and brutal, and focused to the point of obsession, but he’s still inherently good. Pattinson brings a physicality to the character that adds an unexpected force to his movements: he’s quiet but he fills a room, drawing the eye while still somehow seeming as though he’s camouflaged. In its characterization of the titular character, The Batman sets itself apart from other adaptations – it’s much more layered and loyal to the general ideas behind the Dark Knight, and it works its cinematography into those ideas.
The Batman also boasts one of the most impressively used musical scores in recent years. Michael Giacchino’s varied use of his musical motif throughout achieved something deep and visceral, elevating each and every scene.
Pattinson essentially plays a dual role, as his Bruce Wayne is so incredibly different to his Batman. When he’s Wayne, Pattinson acts small and frail, making for one of the best cinematic adaptations of a secret identity to date. However, as Batman, he’s able to achieve a mesmerizing intensity that few actors are capable of, and in that, Pattinson proves that he was a perfect choice for the role.
However, The Batman‘s excellent casting goes beyond Pattinson. Both Zoë Kravitz and Jeffrey Wright capture the essence of their roles flawlessly, with Kravitz in particular bringing a mingled strength and vulnerability to Selina Kyle. She also shares good chemistry with Pattinson’s Batman, bringing the unlikely duo’s dynamic to life with unexpectedly touching results.
Where The Batman is great is the way it expands upon the ideas touched upon by previous incarnations, and even where it occasionally feels less original, Reeves’ stylistic choices shine through to make it ceaselessly entertaining. It’s dark and gritty, but never unnecessarily so, and as such it feels like more of a crime epic than a superhero film.
There are one or two ways in which The Batman sets up potential sequels, and while most of these are subtle nods to other comic book storylines, one scene in particular feels altogether forced. This is perhaps the worst aspect of The Batman – it’s something that feels entirely inorganic to Reeves’ Gotham and The Batman‘s world. Still, even in the scene in question, there’s promise, and it’s undoubtedly something that will prove divisive among Batman fans.
For Batman fans and for film fans, The Batman is a genuine treat. It’s a beautifully made adaptation that manages to be both loyal and original, and Pattinson’s performance in the title role is instantly iconic. It runs a little long in places, but even when its pace briefly slows, The Batman remains gorgeous, hypnotic, and narratively sound.
Summary: The Batman combines ultra-noir crime epic with superhero action, with clever visual and musical touches and solid performances all creating something at once new and familiar to fans of the Dark Knight.
Highlight: Pattinson’s performance as Batman is eye-catching, and The Batman‘s disregard for Bruce Wayne’s character works perfectly to highlight the hero’s mysterious nature.