“The Batman” review: A new Gotham for a new generation
Matt Reeves’ 2022 adaptation of the classic DC character does both audiences and comic-fans justice.
By Matthew Royer, News Editor
“Vengeance” has returned with a ‘BANG!’ for audiences and the citizens of Gotham.
Opening on a Gotham rampant with crime, Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” (2022) allows the titular character, Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson), to strike fear into the city’s lowlife, going wherever Gotham PD’s James Gordon’s (Jeffery Wright) bat-signal takes him. Entering his second year of fighting crime, Wayne must balance his father’s past actions alongside an unlikely ally in the Catwoman, Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), against the conniving serial killer The Riddler (Paul Dano) who is targeting Gotham’s most influential figures, and possibly even Wayne himself.
Ten years after Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” capped off the award-winning trilogy, Warner-Bros is back with a new retelling of the “Caped Crusader.” Unlike the Nolan setting of an origin story for the character, Reeves focuses on a version of the character that has existed within the city of Gotham for a year already, building a reputation as a vigilante through his actions. Instead of Wayne's traditional ‘playboy’ persona, the twenty-something orphan is secluded, disappearing into Wayne Manor with little-to-no effect on the inner-workings of Gotham.
A major difference between Reeves’ and Nolan’s versions of the source material is the motivations of female characters. In “The Dark Knight” trilogy, female characters exist almost strictly as foils to Wayne and his motivations, while in “The Batman,” characters like Kyle and Bella Reál (Jayme Lawson) exist to advance their own motive, at moments alongside Pattinson’s version of Batman. The former, in particular, works to correct the wrongs that have been made within her and her friends’ lives.
Pattinson’s Batman is as far from “Twilight” as an actor could get. Very grounded and focused, the 35-year-old’s acting skills radiate throughout the film, commanding the screen as a hero and leading man. By the end of the film, he convinces audiences that he has held his own against previous actors to play the role, such as A-listers Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, Michael Keaton and George Clooney.
While actors command the screen playing characters well known to audiences, the best character portrayed in the film is the city of Gotham itself.
Set in gloomy and rainy locations during a time of political change, one could believe David Fincher made the film. Clearly taking inspiration from films such as “Se7en” (1995) and “Zodiac” (2007), Reeves is able to craft a city that feels more alive than ever, whether it is its scenery or bustle. By focusing on a mayoral election as its premier side-plot, Gotham is able to grasp the moment better than any previous version. Not only this, but the city is a focus for the villains of the film, which are also Fincher-esque.
Inspired in look and action by the Zodiac Killer, which haunted Northern California during the late 60s, Dano’s Riddler is fearsome in the way he conducts himself. In the shadows, attempting to take out Gotham’s higher-ups, Riddler sets himself apart as the man in control. Addressing every clue “TO THE BATMAN,” Reeves’ direction for the character allows the audience to become the detective alongside Wayne in discovering his true motivations. Other traditional Batman villains, such as the Penguin (Colin Farrell), made enough of an impact that Farrell has received a green light for his own HBO MAX series for the character, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
With a third act that is a visual must-see for moviegoers, Matt Reeves enacted ‘vengeance’ on his naysayers, giving audiences a motive to take a seat and view “The Batman” in theaters on the biggest screen they can find.