The Batman is bold, brutal and one of the best DC films of all time. In a superhero movie climate where cameos and CGI-heavy sequences are commonplace, The Batman answers back with cinema.
Matt Reeves takes the helm of the newest Batman franchise with the same gusto and vigor of the final two parts of Planet of the Apes, treated by many as one of the best modern film trilogies. Taking on the challenge of Batman, Reeves leaves his imprint on the character in a fantastically poignant way.
Featuring a younger, emotionally broken Bruce Wayne, Reeves flexes his directing muscles to rebirth Batman without losing his essence. A detective story—set in a Gotham City that oozes a gritty and humid personality—The Batman is immersed in dark undertones, not unlike Batman: The Animated Series.
There is very little time given to hand-hold the audience into Batman’s origin story or why Bruce put on the mask. Many of those details are still fresh in the audience’s mind from previous films. Instead, Reeves opts to place viewers right into the middle of Batman’s story, akin to picking up a random comic from the shop and flipping through the pages. Batman is simply Batman and audiences get to enjoy a new adventure with him.
Reeves takes the best from past Batman directors; combining the detail, grittiness, and visual excellence of Snyder’s work and weaving it with the grounded, dialogue-focused storytelling of Nolan’s craft to create something bold and new for the franchise. The Batman feels quintessential to the character. Everything from the architecture of Gotham City to the many DC name drops feels completely organic and definitive. One reason it all comes together is the cast.
Robert Pattinson effortlessly transforms Bruce Wayne, and it’s no surprise. Those familiar with Pattinson’s work over the last ten years know he’s become one of the best modern actors in the business, and he approached Wayne with the same craft as his recent roles. This iteration of Bruce Wayne is darker, recluse, and a far cry from the billionaire playboy monikers that Bale and Affleck’s versions of the character mastered. This Bruce does not know how to appear in public, he only knows how to be Batman, with Bruce just an external avatar of the beast within. It is a classic Batman archetype but Pattinson is flawless in the role.
Joining him is Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman. Kravitz is the best live-action Selina Kyle to date. Ripped straight from the pages of the comic books that birthed her, Kravitz elegantly steps into the role without losing the edge that makes the character special. Her chemistry with Pattinson is incredibly layered and the actress is more than capable to lead her franchise as the anti-hero. Likewise, Andy Serkis, a longtime collaborator of Reeves, plays a strong and stoic Alfred. A cross between Jeremy Irons and Michael Caine’s iterations of the character, Serkis plays Alfred with a caring, but strong demeanor.
The bar for Batman movie villains has been incredibly high. With The Dark Knight trilogy masterfully weaving multiple Batman villains into its franchise and a wider range of DC villains for Affleck in the Snyderverse, Reeves went back to basics to craft his Batman story. With a combination of Riddler, Penguin, and Carmine Falcone rounding the rogues’ gallery, Reeves expertly weaves Batman into confronting each villain at different times, once again resembling a wide-ranging, yet focused comic book story.
Where the modern DCEU is cluttered, messy, and left without a true vision, The Batman is a breath of fresh air. Reeves directs Batman with a love and passion that will reverberate with fans and newcomers alike. The cast is loyal to the director’s vision and the result is a resounding Batman film with incredible long-term franchise potential. Weaving the vision, cast performance, and set design together is a stunning score by Michael Giacchino, who immediately gives Batman another iconic score to add to an already diverse portfolio.
Overall, The Batman is the quintessential Dark Knight film and one of the best DC films of all time. With incredible performances, flawless directing, and a resounding score, The Batman is a masterpiece.