The Batman: The Movie Gotham Deserves


An official poster for The Batman. All rights belong to Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

This Article Contains Spoilers

It’s no surprise that the superhero genre has taken over the movie industry, but not many superheroes have gone through as many changes and reboots as Batman. Batman, created in 1939, is considered the most beloved and popular hero because he’s an all-in-one package. He’s rich. He’s popular in the public eye. He has a Batcave with advanced technology. He’s a detective. He fights psychotic clowns every Tuesday, and he has shark repellent just in case of an unexpected shark attack. After a cheesy show in 1960 starring Adam West, six reboots within thirty-three years, many animated series, and video games, I guess it’s safe to say that Batman has become a household name.

Not to mention, Batman has left a significant impact on the film industry, especially in the superhero genre. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy (2005-2012) brought this prestige to the superhero genre by bringing a serious and less childish tone, unlike Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. That tonal shift from Nolan shows that comic book movies don’t have to be campy or utterly ridiculous to be comic book movies. Superheroes have changed since The Dark Knight, and so has Batman.

Ever since Christian Bale’s take on the world’s greatest detective, Ben Affleck took the role in 2016 for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Unlike Bale or Keaton in Batman (1989), Affleck’s Batman is considered the most controversial because of Zack Snyder’s odd choices for the character: Batman doesn’t show any mercy to anyone unless their mother’s name is Martha. It has been made clear that “Batfleck” was inspired by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, but even still, the execution just fell flat within the context of Batman v. Superman. One year later, Will Arnett returns as Batman’s hysterical and meta version in The Lego Batman Movie, and now in 2022, Robert Pattinson makes a grand return to mainstream media as the Caped Crusader in The Batman.

After he was announced to be the new Batman, fans were skeptical about how this would turn out, considering Pattinson’s infamous role as Edward Cullen in the Twilight series. Unlike the skeptics, I was intrigued by this casting choice, especially since I love Batman and Robert Pattinson. One teaser trailer later, everyone lost their minds, including me. The movie looked nothing like we’ve ever seen before, but at the same time, it felt like the vibe of the Nolan trilogy was sprinkled in. Of course, some skeptics remained (my mom, for example), but the overall feedback was positive. After every trailer and poster release, I kept my enthusiasm for the movie until it finally came out. Now that it’s finally out in theaters, I can confidently say that The Batman is the movie that Gotham deserves.

The movie follows Bruce Wayne after two years of putting on the cowl, as he begins to investigate a series of murders—all of which leave a riddle for him to solve. Of course, with the plot alone, The Batman is first and foremost a detective story, which, strangely enough, hasn’t ever been done before for a Batman movie. The previous Batman movies were generally just another typical superhero action movie and not a crime-centric investigation. Not that it’s a bad thing that action’s the primary genre, but what those movies are missing is the main tagline for Batman: he’s the world’s greatest detective. Neo-noir and psychological mystery are perfect genre choices for a Batman story because it makes room for the main thing that makes the Caped Crusader popular in the first place. The overall style brings me back to Batman: The Animated Series because the cartoon is a detective story with those dark and psychological aspects.

The cinematography is stunning. I love how largely scaled it seems to be, but it mostly centers around the characters—almost as if the characters themselves control the cinematography. The way Gotham is shown throughout the movie, the city itself becomes a character. Gotham is a city full of corruption and chaos, as seen throughout the many fight scenes or even the Riddler’s terrifying monologues. Despite that, Gotham is also a place full of hope and heart, depicted through the scenes with Catwoman and Batman or even the very end where Bruce’s helping Gotham recover from disaster.

Another thing I love about the cinematography is that it’s not disorienting at all, especially with the action sequences. In most action movies, the action sequences are often too explosive, and it would constantly switch between which character is doing what in different areas. However, in The Batman, the action is almost always focused on Batman as he’s taking the bad guys down. If it’s not focused on him, the camera would focus on his opponent, like Penguin in the car chase scene.

The overall aesthetic of the movie is stellar. Of course, there’s a lot of black and yellow, but I noticed the red lighting motif. With the many trailers and posters, red is the most important color, which is an interesting choice apart from the typical black and yellow. Red evokes strong feelings like passion or anger, but it’s also used for romantic contexts. I believe that the red is used to bring out the chaos in Gotham, for it’s primarily seen in chaotic or violent scenes like Bruce walking through a crowded club, the Riddler writing his riddles in red ink, the chase scene with Batman and Penguin, or even Batman guiding the people of Gotham with a red light within the midst of chaos. That’s what I love about the cinematography as a whole because there was a lot of thought and detail that was put into it, and with the genre style, the cinematography blends in beautifully.

The soundtrack is, of course, amazing. It perfectly sets the movie’s tone, and I can’t get enough of Nirvana’s “Something in the Way.” That song was made for Batman and Gotham. While I greatly enjoyed the cinematography and soundtrack, I absolutely adore the characters. Regardless of screen time, all of the characters felt like they had a larger role. No one felt unimportant—they all had a purpose to the overall story. Colin Farrell is fun as Penguin, Jeffrey Wright is a great Jim Gordan, and Andy Serkis plays an amazing Alfred.

And, of course, Robert Pattinson nailed it as Batman. His Batman felt more like Batman than the ones that came before. He brought a more humanistic side to the character, rather than making him only dark and brooding “because he’s Batman.” His Bruce Wayne felt more real. He’s not a Tony Stark-level playboy. He’s just a man lost in his grief, believing that he’s living up to the Wayne legacy, only to later realize that his purpose of being the Batman is far beyond the Wayne Family and vengeance: his true purpose as Batman is to restore hope in Gotham, even if Gotham is nothing but a hopeless city.

Another thing I appreciated about Pattinson’s Batman is that he still has the no-kill code, and it was fascinating to see how he still stuck to that rule, despite all of the chaos the Riddler put him through. Throughout the movie, I sat there wondering if there’ll be a point in the story where Batman will end up snapping and breaking his code, but he doesn’t. That is what I appreciate from this movie because that’s just who Batman is, “choices have consequences.” His main philosophy behind the no-kill code is that if he kills the bad guy, he’ll become as bad as them. One other small detail I liked was that his “Batman voice” sounded so natural, unlike the Batmen from before. Before, Batman would have either a robotic or grouchy voice, but Pattinson’s voice sounds like an average person. Of course, his Batman voice is a little deeper than Bruce Wayne’s, but I loved how he still manages to sound like Batman without making the voice sound completely unnatural.

Zoë Kravitz did a phenomenal job as Catwoman or Selina Kyle. She’s charming, stealthy, secretive, but she also has a tender side. Her Catwoman isn’t just a cat burglar; instead, she’s like Batman because the purpose behind her mask is to defend the people she cares about. I also enjoyed how the theme of legacy ties with her: Bruce Wayne’s journey is discovering the corruption and lies of his family legacy, while Selina is already aware of her family’s cruel actions. They both learn to overcome their family legacies and find a new purpose for themselves. Both Kravitz and Pattinson were a joy to watch on screen. Their scenes held so much tension and heart, and it was just so natural it’s amazing; you’re just sitting in your seat, wondering if they’re going to end up together. They don’t, but the movie gives you just enough for wanting more because it’s evident that this isn’t the last of Batcat.

Paul Dano’s Riddler is terrifying. When it was announced that we would see another live-action Riddler, I was excited because we haven’t had a Riddler since Jim Carrey in Batman Forever or even Cory Michael Smith in Gotham. However, after the official poster for the character, I became a little skeptical. It was mainly because of the costume design. It reminded me of Scarecrow, another Batman villain, and I found it strange for a supposedly cooky and classy character like the Riddler to wear a hooded mask. I knew that the infamous Zodiac Killer inspired the Riddler’s costume, but my suspicions were still there.

However, the movie proved me wrong. Paul Dano’s Riddler impressed me. Not only did he have my brain running miles with his riddles, but he also had me on the edge of my seat because his Riddler had a terrifying presence. He’s unhinged, unpredictable, manipulative, and his riddles are what they should be: almost impossible for Batman to solve. I even began to understand why the Riddler’s costume is the way it is: the Riddler’s primary motivation in the movie is to unmask Gotham and expose the deceit behind the justice system and the government, and him wearing the mask is creating the irony of his character. The person who wants to unmask the world doesn’t want to unmask himself. The characterization of the Riddler is more believable in the scope of this movie than Jim Carrey, and based on how the movie ends, I can’t wait to see more of what Matt Reeves has in store for Riddler in the future.

The main criticisms I see regarding this movie are the runtime and moody tone. The runtime may be three hours long, but I say that it’s fairly appropriate, considering the overall style of the movie. It’s not a movie like The Dark Knight or Batman v. Superman, and The Batman is a detective story instead of a typically action-packed superhero movie. Additionally, the pacing is very balanced with the action sequences, the investigation scenes, and the quiet moments with Pattinson. The Batman is moody because it’s supposed to be. Batman is a moody character, so the dark tone is to be expected. It would be strange if The Batman turned out to be your average Marvel movie or a movie like Birds of Prey. Lego Batman is an exception because the characterization of Batman is how a child would see him.

The Batman is the movie Gotham deserves. The cinematography is beautiful, the soundtrack is haunting, and neo-noir and psychological mystery are the perfect genre choices for a Batman movie. The cast was phenomenal, and Robert Pattinson is the best Batman by far. You can tell that Matt Reeves put a lot of thought, effort, and love into this movie. Sitting in the theater, it became clear that this was a movie made by someone who loves Batman, and knowing that Matt Reeves has future plans for this series, I can’t wait to see more.