Does The Batman film inspire fear or hope?
Review: The Batman
There is nothing in the way of this becoming a superhero classic.
Nine years after the conclusion of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and six years after Zack Snyder’s Batman versus Superman, fans are once again introduced to a new version of Batman. Taking place on ‘Earth Two’, a different timeline to DC’s extended cinematic universe, the film depicts a relatively young and inexperienced Batman taking on a serial killer named The Riddler, who is taking down corrupt influences within Gotham’s elite. While not entirely without flaws, the film is a return to form for Batman, that explores some facets of the character that have previously been neglected on the silver screen.
After some controversy surrounding Robert Pattison’s casting, this film further shows how versatile an actor he is, bringing gravitas to proceedings.
Zoë Kravitz Kravitz portrays Selina Kyle/Catwoman. While Kravitz is no novice, this is something of a breakout role for her.
Paul Dano plays the Riddler. This version of the character is a darker one than is featured in other films or the comic’s source material, sporting a tight mask and speaking in a menacing, wavering tone. The villain is memorable as is Dano’s portrayal, however there is some question as to whether or not certain choices make the departure from the characters’ roots a worthwhile one.
Jeffrey Wright plays future police Commissioner Jim Gordon, the only trustworthy member of the otherwise corrupt Gotham police. Wright is the first person of colour to portray the character. Much like he did as the Bond films’ Felix Latier, Wright demonstrates that he can carry this important supporting role.
The Batman features the character early in his superhero career. Similar to Frank Miller’s Batman Year One or the Year Zero storyline a decade ago, he is less experienced and prone to making occasional mistakes. An early attempt at gliding is a thrilling moment that ends with Batman falling over. In spite of his relative inexperience, however, the film depicts an element of the character that has previously been somewhat neglected in live action films, with Batman’s status as The World’s Greatest Detective coming to the fore. At the heart of the film is a murder mystery, and the broader plot unfolds step by step.
While less dense than Nolan’s films, The Batman has a clever script that explores the tensions between light and dark. As an inexperienced Batman emerges, he needs to decide whether he wants to inspire fear or hope. The plot also explores some of the tensions involved in Bruce Wayne being part of Gotham’s wealthy establishment, while also trying to make the world a more just place. While other films, such as The Dark Knight, explore Batman’s role in escalating violence, The Batman is the first live action one to implicate the Wayne family.
Visually, the film has its own unique spin on costume and set designs, giving Gotham more of an industrial look.
The Batman is the longest live-action Batman film, with a running time of three hours in total. In the main, the time is well managed, however, with only the last 15 minutes coming across as time where things could have been cut down.
Complains about the film are few, but it should be mentioned that The Batman’s depiction of The Riddler is unnecessarily dark. While the character is always depicted as evil and willing to kill, The Riddler is one of the more goofy, sometimes cartoonish characters whose whole motivation is to outsmart Batman. His edgier and scarier depiction during this film comes across as unnecessary and capitulating to darker content for its own sake.
On a similar note, while Insights noticed a good number of children present at the screening, The Batman is not suitable for younger viewers. Nonetheless, the film sets up the future of the franchise nicely.
The Batman is now playing in cinemas.