PatMan is better than Batfleck: The Batman


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“The Batman” official movie poster.

Sam Becker, Staff Writer

Just when it appeared that Ben Affleck had killed the character of Batman for good, a proverbial “bat-signal” arrived, as DC desperately cried out for help. And like Batman swooping in to save Gotham, Robert Pattinson arrived, to rescue the character itself. Warner Brothers’ The Batman was undoubtedly the best comic book inspired film since Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. This may appear controversial, as Marvel connoisseurs will quickly point to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. However, both of those Marvel movies lack a certain sophistication to be placed in the same spotlight as the two aforementioned DC films. Marvel’s oversaturated, comedic films, inspired by their comic books, are immense in quantity, but hardly ever in quality. DC admittedly has its share of box-office flops, and they produce far fewer films than their Marvel counterparts. However, when DC delivers, as they do with The Batman, they present their audience with an incomparable viewing experience.

The film begins by paying homage to the Batman show of the 1960s, with a cold open which mirrors the style of television. However, the gritty tone of the movie is set soon after, as we observe the depressed city of Gotham through the eyes of Pattinson’s Batman. The story is not incredibly unique from the common Batman story arc. The Riddler, played by Paul Dano, is always one step ahead of Batman, challenging the title hero in both tangible and psychological ways. The essential purpose of the Riddler’s character is to question why Batman gets special privileges from the police and the city of Gotham, when it comes to his vigilantism. While on the surface level, the answer is that Batman represents justice, ultimately, he truly symbolizes “vengeance,” which he commonly refers to himself as throughout the film. As previously mentioned, the story this Batman film presents is nothing groundbreaking. There have been films and shows questioning the true morality of Batman’s character for decades. However, this Batman film separates itself from the pack in its cinematography. The audience can feel Gotham City throughout the film. There is a physical discrepancy between the affluent areas and slums, representing the notion of “two cities” within the singular Gotham. This aspect of the film is done nearly as well as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which is significant, as many, including myself, consider the 2008 film the greatest comic book movie and one of the greatest motion pictures ever. 

This is not to say that The Batman is devoid of flaws. I would have liked to see more about Bruce Wayne, the individual. One of the most fascinating aspects of any Batman story is the divide between Bruce and Batman, and I think this film limits itself by failing to showcase the former. In The Dark Knight, Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne is definitively the star and Batman is his alter-ego, in a Jekyll-Hyde relationship. However, in the 2022 film, it feels entirely about Batman, with a few meaningless scenes of Bruce Wayne sprinkled in between. Further, the greatest issue with The Batman, is that it lacks a strong central villain. This is no fault of Paul Dano’s Riddler, or the writing of the film. Rather, the Riddler is simply one of the weakest Batman villains, as most feel that he is nothing more than a knock-off Joker. Director Matt Reeves’ motivation for using the Riddler can likely be attributed to the belief that the Joker has been overdone. Nevertheless, when the Riddler in your story serves as a copy-cat Joker, you may as well have simply included the legendary villain. If you were to hypothetically replace Dano’s Riddler with Heath Ledger or even Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker in the 2022 film, The Batman may ascend into a legendary movie. Unfortunately, the film may have to simply settle for film of the year. As for comparing it to The Dark Knight, as many have asserted, it is not even a debate in my mind.

While it pales in comparison to The Dark Knight, Warner Brothers’ The Batman can still be a saving grace for the character and the DC extended universe. Pattinson is the best Batman since Bale, Dano is stellar in his role, regardless of the weak character he plays. Most notably, the cinematography and presentation of Gotham as a city is what we will remember and what can feasibly propel the film into “masterpiece” territory in the foreseeable future.