*SPOILER WARNING! This article will heavily reference the 2022 film The Batman, which released in theaters last weekend.*
I, like many people, was curious to see how a cast full of the likes of Robert Pattison, Zoe Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Andy Serkis, Jeffrey Wright, and many others could bring a new spin on a familiar masked vigilante.
My boyfriend is a diehard Batman fan - he's seen every film iteration of the character and even plays the Arkham video games. His favorite has been The Dark Knight Trilogy by Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale and Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne and Alfred, respectively.
I however, am not a fan of those movies. I find Bale's Batman to be self-righteous and overly aggressive and masculine. As a budding media scholar, I was also not a fan of the messages it seemed to be sending its audience - specifically the young male demographic. Of its sins, the most concerning message seems to be that there's always a justification for brutalizing people. Also, I think there are three women collectively among all the movies in the trilogy, and one Black character (Commissioner Gordon - who ends up dying in The Dark Knight anyway).
However, I am a fan of Robert Pattison and several other members of the cast, so I was one of the few who weren't upset at the idea that "the guy from Twilight" was playing Batman. Though, I have noticed that a lot of those critics are being very quiet right now...
In short, I loved this movie and so did my boyfriend. It was absolutely worth the almost three hour runtime - and we're even thinking about seeing it again, which some of our friends have also been interested in doing.
The film is set two years into Bruce Wayne's vigilantism, and it was refreshing to see that for once, we weren't getting another origin story. I find it overdone and derivative - at this point - we all know what happened and how it led to him donning the black mask and cape.
The trailer obviously shows that the main antagonist is the Riddler (played by Paul Dano). Again, it was a nice change of pace from all the Jokers in past movies.
Onto more of what I liked.
Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne was very similar to how Robert Downey Jr. ended up playing Tony Stark - billionaire, playboy, philanthropists. When he was Batman, he adopted a rather cringey, raspy voice in order to hide his identity, but it only served to make me not take him seriously at all.
Robert Pattison, on the other hand, plays Bruce Wayne much differently. He is a recluse, never really going out during the daytime, and only focusing on fighting crime at night. He acknowledges that he isn't really making much of a difference in Gotham, and the beginning of the movie shows the bat signal in the sky as various crimes are being committed, but he is only able to stop one of them. He also wonders if he's doing more harm than good, which is a far cry from the "Only I can do this," vibe I get from Bale's Batman.
He also displays both his intelligence and his compassion, without being sanctimonious or pedantic. I found myself drawing a lot of comparisons to the Nolan trilogy, such as how Pattinson's Batman has more of a father/son relationship with Jeffrey Wright's Jim Gordon. It is obvious from the get-go that the two respect each other - Gordon understands that Batman works in a particular way, but he also puts him in his place and keeps him in line. Bale's Batman, on the other hand, basically walked all over Gary Oldman's Jim Gordon, deeming himself above the police.
He is clever, able to solve many of the riddles that are left at every crime scene. But the most significant part to me is his compassion. There is a scene in which the Riddler has a man in a collar bomb, giving him a chance to live if he answers three riddles in a certain amount of time. Batman stays with the man, helping him with the riddles, but the man refuses to answer the last one for fear of retribution for the answer. Knowing the countdown is going to happen, Batman still stays with the man until the bomb detonates, even though he could have let him die alone.
By contrast, I feel like Bale's Batman would have not even bothered with the man, because he would be too focused on catching the Riddler while the man fought for his life.
Then, we get to Zoe Kravitz's Selina Kyle/Catwoman. She noted that in an interview, she tried to channel more Selina and less Catwoman, and it shows. She's strong, smart, and determined. She doesn't take anything from Batman and puts him in his place when his privilege makes him assume the worst about her.
And, true to the comic, she is openly bisexual, having begun the film with a girlfriend and later kissing Batman.
She wants revenge on someone who wronged her, willing to make them pay with their life. Instead of being holier-than-thou about the situation, Batman just warns her against the mark it would leave on her soul.
Finally, we get to the end. Instead of a sole great man hero, we see Batman helping first responders during the aftermath. This shows he does not think himself any better than them, and shows his willingness to help any way he can.
While this film still does have its issues with representation, I really enjoyed watching it, and it's been fun having discussions with people.
What do you all think? Did the film live up to the hype? How does it stack up against its predecessors? What might you want to see next?