A Batman solo film has been in the works for a long time. When Ben Affleck was in the role as a part of the Snyder-verse after his introduction in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, they even went as far to release a teaser clip that revealed that Deathstroke was going to be in the film. Ben Affleck was also going to direct the film, but after personal problems he stepped away from the superhero universe (although he is returning for The Flash later this year along with Michael Keaton, in a small role). It was then floated around and Matt Reeves stepped up with an idea, and after he had success with his Planet of the Apes prequel films it would’ve been hard to say no to such a talented filmmaker.
The Batman takes place in Bruce Wayne’s second year as Batman. When murders start to pop up, he must crack the riddles laid by the Riddler to uncover secrets behind the corruption in Gotham and his family secrets.
If The Dark Knight is the best Batman movie ever made, then this will certainly be giving it a run for it’s money to be the best Batman film (Movie being a blockbuster, film being a more artistic approach, that’s just the way I see it). DC have been struggling to find what to do with their cinematic universe since trying to play catch up with Marvel, the Snyder-verse didn’t work out and have turned to passion projects of creators who come to them with ideas. Joker had big success with audiences and critics, and people demanding the Snyder cut of Justice League made them realise they should just let filmmakers do what they want to do and create their own thing, something Christopher Nolan did very successfully with The Dark Knight trilogy. Batman is a big enough character that if you don’t want him to share the universe with other DC characters, he can still survive with such a large amount of side characters and villians, who haven’t had a good appearance but could be done really well, in the right hands. Matt Reeves clearly came into it with a vision that he puts on the screen, helped written by Peter Craig, director of photography recent Oscar nominee, Greig Fraser (Dune, Rogue One), along with many other members of crew and an all star cast. You can see Reeves wanted to do something different, that much is clear from the first second of the film, and trailers don’t miss-sell the film at all. It’s very much a detective film, clearly influenced by the likes of Blade Runner and Se7en, showing a different side of Batman we haven’t really seen before.
There was a lot of people critising the casting of Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne, mostly from people who haven’t seen his really good work in recent years in Good Time and The Lighthouse particularly, still quoting what he is known for playing with his role as Edward Cullen in Twilight, a series which wrapped up 10 years. I think he will soon be silencing a lot of those haters. This Bruce Wayne is a lot younger than we’ve seen before so that gives us a different aspect of the character, we haven’t seen before. This Batman is still refinining his skills, still a little sloppy at times, not everything is perfect, but he is still getting the job done and striking fear into the criminals of Gotham city. Pattinson (or as he shall now be known because of The Weekly Planet podcast, Robat Batinbat) delivers an interesting performance, one that takes time to settle into but once you get used to you can understand why he was a perfect choice for this universe that is being set up.
The rest of the cast are all equally as strong, if not stronger on the most parts when we look at the villains. Paul Dano is an incredible actor who’s been grinding away in Hollywood without particularly making a name for himself, keeping himself quiet and smashing out of the park every single time you see him. Just one of those names that none film lovers don’t know, but will now after his mesmirising performance in this. Batman villians have always been particularly scrutinised after we got great performances of Joker by 3 legends of the industry (Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix, yes, I’m not including Jared Leto) who made the character iconic on the big screen, delivering the character in their own unique way. I think Dano has looked at those performances, and seen what they do well and how they differ, and learnt what works and how to make a unique performance for a Batman villian. Jim Carrey played the role of Riddler in Batman Forever the only big screen version of the character, we’ve had so Dano had some work to do to redeem the character and bring into the 21st century, and give it a gritty version, as he wasn’t a character Nolan touched. Colin Farrell and Zoe Kravitz also make strong appearances as Penguin and Catwoman respectively, both getting sort of origin stories, while playing decent size roles without overtaking the lead villain and supporting. Farrell we will see again in his own spin-off which will be on HBO Max which is in the works and Kravitz teases a couple of different places we could see her again, but after being a big standout in this film, I have no doubt they will get her in the sequel, this film deserves.
Overall, The Batman was my most anticipated film of the year because of my faith in director Matt Reeves and an incredible cast who deliver a refreshing take on a beloved character, who we have seen countless times on the big screen. The music (an incredible, catchy score by Michael Giacchino), the visuals, the performances, the direction, it is all knocked out of the park giving fans something some won’t even know they wanted. The 3 hour run time is felt slightly, but you never lose interest and I could have sat through 3 hours more of this city and world Reeves and co have created.
What did you think of The Batman?
I won’t be doing a spoiler review for this one, but I might do one where I talk about what I’d like to see next in this universe, but my priority is to review a couple of other films I’ve seen recently so use the links below to follow me and keep up to date.