REVIEW: The Batman *is* BatmanBy Matthew Martin| March 4, 2022 Movie Reviews The Batman is a film paced like a slow-burn noir thriller/mystery, punctuated at times with some of the best action scenes ever to feature the hero in a live-action setting. I can find no flaws. It was like Matt Reeves took every example of me saying “I wish there could be a Batman movie where______” and they just did all the things. One puff piece I read before the film released said it was WB’s latest attempt to “reimagine” the hero. I disagree with that summation. The Batman is not a reimagining; it is the most traditional, fundamental, “faithful” (there’s a word that’s overused when talking about these sorts of films) adaptation of the hero ever seen in a live-action form. Yes, that includes the excellent Christopher Nolan movies, a trilogy of films elevated by how marvelously made they were, but ultimately let down in how much they deviated from the source material in an effort to be as “grounded” and “real” as the director wanted. The Batman felt like a graphic novel come to life. Right from the start, with narration from the hero himself, walking us through his perception of Gotham after two years of crime-fighting, the movie treats its story like an epic Loeb/Sale story come to life. What more can I say? The Batman is Batman, and it’s basically perfect. 10/10 – The Batman was the Batman story I always wanted to see on film, simply because it was Batman, free of every constraint and compromise that plagued so many prior film versions. You want more? I can sing the film’s praises for hours. SPOILERS BEGIN HERE I have a long list of things I loved, from the cinematography to the plot, to the acting, to Colin Farrell’s performance as Penguin, to the incredible score by Michael Giacchino. It’s all so wonderful. All that said, I think the one thing that will stick with me the longest is the idea that Riddler did what he did, leaving messages to Batman at his crime scenes, because he believed Batman was just like him, a psycho looking to hurt the people responsible for Gotham’s misery. And, in a sense, that’s exactly how Batman started out in the movie. His one and only motivation was to be “vengeance.” He just didn’t know that the real problem in Gotham wasn’t the petty criminals, but the conspiracy of crime and corruption bubbling under the surface. Riddler did what Batman did, albeit with murder. So, in the end, when the Riddler’s thug says he (and his fellow murderers) is “vengeance” it resonates with Bruce, who realizes his masked persona needs to be more than that. He needs to be an inspiring symbol. Those are the bookends of the story and it’s a masterfully told bit of storytelling. It’s also something I was completely unprepared for. Everything in the advertising and everything contained within 80 years of history with the Riddler would lead fans to think that the secret messages “to the Batman” were nothing more than Zodiac-esque messages designed to taunt and play games with the good guys hunting for him. Instead, they were—in the mind of the very obviously demented Riddler—clues and aides to help the Batman do his part in “their” mission to save Gotham. What an incredible way to illustrate one of the timeless ideas about Batman, which is that he is not only the solution to Gotham’s many criminals, but also frequently he is the cause of them, too. In between those bookends is one of the best Riddler stories I’ve ever experienced, either in comics/graphic novels, TV episodes, video games, and certainly on film. It gives us a look at “the world’s greatest detective” to an extent we’ve not been afforded on film before. I can find no flaws with this film, at least none worth mentioning, but if I had to mention one, I would point to the Arkham scene featuring Riddler and Joker. That felt exactly like a post-credit scene stuck into the end of the film, hindering the flow toward the final shot. Take that scene out, stick it after the credits (or midway through) and…that’s it. That’s the only thing. Everything else I might want to quibble over is answered within the story itself. Batman’s suit is a bit clunky? The Batmobile seems unfinished? The glider suit looks hilariously un-Batman-like? Naturally, of course, sure: He’s only been on the job for two years and is still very raw and unpolished. There are kinks yet to be worked out. Would I like to see a Batman with white eyes like Spider-Man or Deadpool? Yep, but I can’t deny how cool it was to see the contact lens camera that Bruce was sporting. Would I like to see a Batmobile with fins? Sure, but the car I did see was used in the greatest Batmobile scene in the history of Batman on film. Hard to complain when you’re having so much fun. Or what about Bruce’s apparently “emotionally distant” relationship with Alfred? We’re so used to seeing them have a surrogate father/son relationship that it was genuinely shocking to hear Bruce say “you’re not my dad” in such a cold, dismissive way. It happens again when he comments on Alfred wearing “Wayne” cufflinks. It was surprising and different, but not “wrong” per se. There’s room in the many iterations of Batman for Bruce to need to grow and develop love for, as opposed to a mere dependence on Alfred. We had hints of that in the hospital scene between them. This will not be the last time these two characters, in this world, are on film; I’m happy to give it time to develop. And then there’s the idea that Falcone ordered the hit on Bruce’s parents, or that Thomas Wayne was more than a rich philanthropist, but was also a would-be politician with a willingness to ask a mob boss for a favor or two. Implying that Bruce’s dad was not squeaky clean is not new ground, though the notion that the Waynes were murdered as a hit, as opposed to a random act of violence, is less common when considering the hero’s origin story. I didn’t love it on its own, but within the context of the very well-told story, I was fine with it. That’s it, those are my quibbles, minor though they be. SPOILERS END HERE Again, what else can I say? The Batman was Batman. It wasn’t just the “closest I’ll get” to seeing my favorite Batman story—The Long Halloween—come to life; it basically was that version of Batman come to life and I cannot wait for Matt Reeves and co. to dive back into this world. I say again… 10/10 – The Batman was the Batman story I always wanted to see on film, simply because it was Batman, free of every constraint and compromise that plagued so many prior film versions.