Batman has seen many adaptations over the years. There’s no denying the character’s iconic status as one of the most recognized, beloved, and interesting superheroes compared to Superman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, and other super-powered beings.
My first real introduction to Batman came in the form of the 1960s TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward, the actors portraying the dynamic duo/caped crusaders. I have memories of my dad saying how much he didn’t like the original TV series. Given his knowledge of Batman in the comics, he always imagined the character to be muscular, strong, intimidating, driven, and inventive.
As I mentioned, Batman has seen adaptations in television, animation, film, comics, video games, and novelizations. Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Ben Affleck and Christian Bale have all donned the cape and cowl. However, in 2022, an extremely radical take on the Batman mythology was presented to the world. Director Matt Reeves, known for helming projects such as ‘Cloverfield’, ‘Let Me In’, ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ and ‘War for The Planet of the Apes’, felt it was time to further explore the darker and grittier ones. and a mature take on the character while featuring more of a story that reflects a dark detective rather than a superhero spectacle.
The movie titled “The Batman” establishes a different type of superhero movie that isn’t an origin story and focuses on Bruce Wayne’s second year as a vigilante in Gotham City. He’s not the fully formed night vigilante at this point in his journey, earning a reputation among the criminal underworld, but rather presents himself as a mysterious myth – a monster in the shadows if you will. “The Batman” has the superhero working with future commissioner Jim Gordon investigating a serial killer known as The Riddler. Little is known about the villain, except that he left intricate puzzles, clues, and ciphers to match the themes of his crime spree. Riddler’s portrayal of the character was heavily inspired by the Zodiac Killer of the late 1960s with similar themes associated with his crimes.
Robert Pattinson from the popular “Twilight” vampire movie series takes over as the iconic superhero. From the start, there was initial confusion and revolt with his cast, as many fans only knew of his work as Edward Cullen. Zoe Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, John Turturro and Andy Serkis join him in the cast. I made sure to buy a ticket on the opening night of its initial release. Granted, I had very high expectations because I’ve always had a fascination with detective-centric noir and The Riddler is my favorite Batman villain. I love any story that relies more on getting the audience thinking and deciphering clues, riddles, and promoting thinking outside the box.
After the feature, I found myself falling in love with the movie and have it as my favorite Batman movie of all time. No other Batman cinematic feature comes close in my opinion. It’s what I always imagined in my head reading the comics and how the character should be portrayed. Gotham City feels and looks like a character itself. It feels more alive, realistic, grounded, dark, and an environment where various twisted villains could manifest in the weirdest ways. The visual representation of Gotham makes you feel like it makes sense for villains like The Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Scarecrow, and Killer Croc to appear without looking out of place.
Pattinson’s performance is absolute top notch perfection. To me, he’s Bruce Wayne/Batman. I’ve watched this movie many times in theaters, and every time I see Pattinson as a young Bruce Wayne, it’s perfect. We see him more as Batman than anything else, and that’s a perfect representation as well. Batman should be viewed and feared as a creature of the night lurking in the shadows. When he appears, there must automatically be this silent rage that he constantly holds back from consuming him, and Pattinson nails it. He nails voice acting, body language, fight sequences and crime scene investigations.
Another highlight is Paul Dano’s performance as The Riddler. He’s intimidating, spooky, spooky, and smart – which is a dangerous combination when it comes to villain design. There is nothing more deadly than an individual who relies more on their intellect and manipulates from the shadows than using brute force. Matt Reeves brought to life a grounded, visceral, and dark Batman story that doesn’t focus on the action spectacle of explosions, fancy visual effects, and loud music to keep the viewer from enjoying the story. Each action sequence sets the tone and propels the story properly. It is not action for action’s sake. When those moments happen, it makes sense within the confines of plot advancement.
“The Batman” is absolutely what the last character-centric films should have been. It works across the board with the acting, action, suspense, character development, dialogue, and cinematic musical score. My only complaint is the inclusion of Catwoman in the film, and that has more to do with the fact that I’m not a huge fan of the character. The only time I really liked Catwoman was when Michelle Pfeiffer portrayed her in “Batman Returns.”
Other than that minor complaint, my final rating of 2022’s “The Batman” is a perfect 10/10 and two thumbs up. I highly recommend this cinematic masterpiece. Worth buying and should it be re-released in the future for the big screen. I will go back to see the movie. Be on the lookout next week for my review of the 2022 psychological thriller “Don’t Worry Darling.”
Isaiah Ridley works at Beacon Cinemas in Sumter. To watch his movie reviews online, find him @Izzy’s Cinematic Escape on YouTube.