Packed with explosive car chases and overly intense music, superhero movies tend to be melodramatic. But in The Batman, the latest installment in the superhero’s tale, the inevitable drama makes the three-hour movie worthwhile.
The film, which arrives in theaters on March 4, begins with a narration by Batman (Robert Pattinson) as he reads from a diary entry. The opening narration, accompanied by classical music, makes the beginning of the film feel less like an action movie and more like a drama.
The movie centers around a series of crimes committed by the movie’s villain, the Riddler (Paul Dano). A clue in the form of a card addressed to Batman is left at each scene, leading Batman to who the Riddler’s next target will be. As the film progresses, the clues become less obvious, yet they lead to more gruesome crimes.
This Batman movie is set at the beginning of the hero’s career, which becomes clear when he seems unsure of his own motives for helping Gotham or how to operate the technology of his suit. The viewer gets to witness the first time Batman uses his flying cape to escape danger.
With this iteration of the Batman franchise, director Matt Reeves said that his creative process was a “blank page,” but in a press conference on Feb. 17, he said he knew he wanted to play around with the developing identity of young Batman.
“I think something I knew [was] that I wanted to take this iteration of a younger Batman, who was early in his arc—that there was room for growth, room for an awakening—and put him at the center of this mystery that would pull us into the path of all of these characters,” Reeves said.
As in other Batman movies, the superhero receives help from his butler Alfred (Andy Serkis) and detective James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright). But in this movie, he also enlists help from characters such as the Penguin (Colin Farrell) and Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz).
The chemistry between Catwoman and Batman is palpable, which is a testament to both Kravitz’s and Pattinson’s acting.
Kravitz said that the connections between the characters are the driving force behind the film, as the audience gets to peek behind the masks of Batman and Catwoman, witnessing the characters’ personal lives.
“They’ve both felt alone their entire lives, and to meet somebody who has a similar way of thinking, that grabs you the way that they kind of grab each other, I think it really is the heart of the story,” Kravitz said.
The bond between Bruce Wayne and Alfred, however, falls flat and does not feel as close as it did in prior movies. The two argue throughout the movie about Alfred’s role in Bruce’s life and whether he is a father figure. At the same time, a budding relationship forms between Gordon and Batman, as the two learn to trust one another while battling corruption and crime in Gotham.
The Batman is Pattinson’s debut as Gotham City’s superhero, and his portrayal of the character Bruce Wayne is reminiscent of his famous role as Edward Cullen in Twilight. Both characters are dark and mysterious and speak in an emotionless, brooding manner.
But the moodiness of Pattinson’s Batman feels more natural and isn’t over-acted compared to his performance as Edward. Instead Pattinson’s adaptation of the Batman character enhances the impact of the twists and turns in the plot.
While the movie is called The Batman for a reason, and Catwoman is a secondary character, her role would have been more impactful if she did not evolve into a love interest for Batman. Her role centered on how a crime was committed against someone she loved by a corrupt figure in Gotham. She and Batman crossed paths and eventually teamed up before they developed a clear affection for one another. At a point, Catwoman’s budding relationship with Batman appeared to become what drives her, rather than her skills.
One of the standout elements of the film is the score, including a slow-tempo version of “Something in the Way” by Nirvana. The song, with lyrics that match the gloominess of Batman’s persona, give the movie an eerie effect.
The camera angles and sound effects, such as the jagged breathing of the Riddler and Batman, enhance the intensity of the film. At times, the camera is angled to make the shot ambiguous as to whether it is from the perspective of Batman or the Riddler. The cinematography adds to the film’s theme of the fine line between good and evil.
Producer Dylan Clark said in the press conference that shooting the movie during the COVID-19 pandemic produced challenges during the filming process. Living up to the weight of 80 years of Batman movies added additional pressure to the making of the movie, according to Clark.
Pattinson, despite the pressures of the iconic Batman role, said it was interesting to play such an early version of Batman. Pattison said he got to explore all Batman’s uncertainties and grow with the character, rather than jumping into the role of an established, uber-confident Batman.
“I loved all of the kind of frailties he has in the scene when he’s jumping off and using the cape for the first time,” Pattinson said. “You know, this kind of Batman’s always been kind of fallible, and you know, he’s just a man in an armored suit, but this really, really embraces that so much.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.