“The Batman” exceeds expectations


Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” is the latest reboot of the Batman franchise and the first film to star Robert Pattinson as the titular hero.

In the months leading up to this film, its existence bothered me in a way. After six theatrical iterations of the character, I could tell it wouldn’t get better than the peak that was Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” In an era when every other film is based on a comic book, another “dark and gritty” adaptation of Batman felt like retreading old ground.

But after rewatching (most of) the Batman films and seeing this new one, I think “The Batman” is exactly what I wanted from an adaptation of the iconic caped crusader.

While “The Dark Knight” is definitely the best film to have Batman in it, he is hardly the focus of the film, let alone the most interesting character. Whereas Reeves’ film focuses on the character of Batman, first and foremost.

Another way that Reeves’ adaptation shines is in its visual style. Gotham City in the film is the best adaptation of Batman’s world yet. Instead of just putting Batman in Chicago and calling it Gotham, Reeves’ world is a perfect middle-ground between Nolan’s realism and the ultra-stylized gothic city of Burton and Schumaker’s films. The city is dark, gothic, and gross but always feels like it could be a real city. 

It’s made even better by the beautiful visual style of the film. Cinematographer Greig Fraser, coming hot off of his work on “Dune,” hits another home run with the cinematography in “The Batman.” The shots and colors are beautiful but never sacrifice substance for style. 

The dynamic camera movements mixed with Reeves’ prioritization of practical effects lead to some great action scenes. One of which, the car chase, is probably my favorite scene in the film.

Although the film is three hours long, the mystery surrounding the Riddler was structured and paced very well. The mystery is very inspired by films like “Chinatown” and “Se7en” but the way it intertwines with subplots involving classic Batman characters kept it feeling fresh. This was something I worried about going into the film after “Joker” took inspiration from Scorsese in a much worse and more derivative way.

The cast of the film is very good and every actor feels perfectly cast into their respective roles. Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, and John Turturro are all great, and Jeffrey Wright is my new favorite Commissioner Gordon. The only casting choice that really didn’t work was Andy Serkis as Alfred, who never captured the heart of a character who is pretty much all heart.

The best part of the film is its portrayal of Batman as a character. Showing Batman in his early days of vigilantism, still having to figure out why he does what he does, makes for a really great character arc.

Where the exploration of Batman kind of falls short, however, is in its portrayal of Bruce Wayne. The film spends a little too much of its time with a brooding emo Batman and little to no time with his alter ego. 

This is definitely intentional because this iteration of Bruce hasn’t yet figured out how to live two lives. However, from an audience perspective, it can be difficult to connect to him as a character, as he always seems to act like silent stoic Batman, in or out of the mask.

My other issue is more of a nitpick but I wish Reeves had prioritized comic accuracy, as he did for Gotham, in certain other areas. For example, characters like the Riddler and the Penguin act but never look like their comic book counterparts. It may just be me but personally, the Riddler’s Zodiac-inspired outfit rather than his usual green question mark suit (silly but there’s a grounded way to adapt that) considerably distanced him from the character he is based on.

I hope in the future, we get to see a sequel with a developing Batman, a villain we haven’t seen on the big screen, and maybe even a Robin. Who knows?

Although it may not be the best film to feature Batman, “The Batman” has quickly become my favorite adaptation of the character himself. The film exceeds on all fronts from its story to its visuals to its cast and as of March, it’s my favorite film of 2022 so far.


My Official Batman Ranking:

  1. The Dark Knight
  2. The Batman
  3. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
  4. Batman (1989)
  5. Batman (1966)
  6. Batman Begins
  7. The Lego Batman Movie
  8. The Dark Knight Rises
  9. Batman Returns
  10. Batman Forever
  11. Batman & Robin
  12. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice