Robert Pattinson can finally put Twilight behind him. Sure, he’s had several Oscar-worthy roles since portraying Edward, but when his Bruce Wayne casting was first announced all anyone could talk about was a sparkling Batman. The Batman is what most people have been wanting for the character since Christopher Nolan’s trilogy came to an end, but it’s not a perfect film. Let’s take a deep dive into our spoiler-free review of The Batman.
The Batman picks up in the second year of Bruce Wayne’s (Robert Pattinson) time as the caped crusader. While he has the important parts down, he’s still a novice in some clear ways. He has the trust of police officer James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), but the rest of the Gotham PD wants him locked up. Now, the Riddler (Paul Dano) is on the loose, and Batman must save the day with a little help from Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz).
Let’s just get this out of the way. Robert Pattinson is a convincing Batman. He’s easily the most soft-spoken of the recent Batman actors, but the lack of a low grumble being added to his voice is actually a little refreshing. It’s not hard to imagine this version of Batman becoming what we see in The Dark Knight with another 10 years or so under his belt, but he’s not that person in this film. It should also be noted that this is a Batman film, not a Bruce Wayne film. You’ll see Wayne from time to time, but he is clearly not the focus here.
While recent films set in Gotham City seem to focus more on the villains and less on Batman, The Batman is very clearly focused on the hero. Despite that fact, Paul Dano plays a murderous Riddler that resembles something out of a Netflix serial killer show more so than a Batman villain. But that take on the character works within the context of the film. He’s legitimately scary at some points in the movie as The Batman occasionally walks the line between DC superhero movie and horror film.
This is easily one of the top ensemble casts in any DC film to date. Paul Dano and John Turturro are impressive, but Zoë Kravitz and Jeffrey Wright play the best theatrical versions of Catwoman and James Gordon, respectively. Selina Kyle is at times a better fighter than Batman while being one of the most seductive takes on the character. Meanwhile, Wright completely nails Gordon in Batman’s second year. He trusts the bat, but there’s hesitation in his eyes. He knows he’s doing what’s necessary to get the job done, but you can tell he’s afraid of the potential consequences.
At just five minutes shy of three hours, The Batman is a long film. That will bother some people more than others, but Matt Reeves definitely could have shaved 10 or 20 minutes off the final runtime without losing anything of real importance. The film also suffers from the same issue as The Dark Knight, with a disjointed final act. The final act is one of the best parts of the film, but the transition into it feels a bit rough. Minor gripes to be sure, but a seemingly easy problem to fix.
Director Matt Reeves has gone on record saying that The Batman focuses more on his status as the world’s greatest detective when compared to other Batman movies. That doesn’t really come through in the final product, as he seems to be doing just as much detective work as we saw in The Dark Knight, only with a villain that leaves behind riddles instead of playing cards.
That’s not to say The Batman isn’t a great movie. It’s a thoroughly entertaining film, and easily one of the best Batman movies, right up there with The Dark Knight (but not exceeding it, sorry), but it doesn’t offer anything new. If someone said Christopher Nolan directed this film, or that it’s supposed to fit within the world Nolan created, it would be difficult to argue. This is a dark take on Batman doing things you’d expect Batman to do.
While Marvel Studios breathes new life into its heroes every other movie, DC seems hellbent on going as dark as possible with Batman. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, but when was the last time we saw Robin in a Batman movie? It feels like you can count the number of daytime scenes in The Batman on one hand and still have a few fingers left over.
Is The Batman a good film? Yes, without question. Will people rant and rave over it once it releases on Friday? Absolutely. But keep in mind, people also loved Uncharted, which was about as bland as an adventure movie can get. The point is that this is Warner Bros playing it safe. There’s almost nothing new or fresh about The Batman, and because it feels so close to The Dark Knight, it’s a little disappointing to this one little film critic. For every disappointed critic there will be millions of cheering fans, but is it too much to ask for something at least a little new?
There’s a little thing after the credits, but it’s not a post-credit scene. If you want to skip out early you won’t actually miss anything of significance.
About The Batman
Synopsis: When the Riddler, a sadistic serial killer, begins murdering key political figures in Gotham, Batman is forced to investigate the city’s hidden corruption and question his family’s involvement.
Director: Matt Reeves
Writers: Matt Reeves, Peter Craig
Stars: Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Robert Pattinson, Paul Dano, Colin Farrell, Barry Keoghan, Andy Serkis
Runtime: 2 Hours, 55 Minutes
Releases: March 4th, 2022 (USA)
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.