Skip to main content

"The Batman": A Standalone DC Film Noir Epic

Alex is a School of Visual Arts graduate with a passion for media, writing and animation. He writes reviews for film, television, and games.

Intro

Batman is regarded as one of the greatest superheroes of all time. He has appeared in a variety of media, including film. However, it depends on which films are being discussed. Batman has been adapted into several films over the years. While some are campy, others are underrated, and some are revolutionary. Others are among the greatest films ever made.

Recently, Batman struggled to get back into the mainstream after Zack Synder's interpretation polarized audiences, so Warner Bros. decided to make a brand new movie based on the DCEU version. Ben Affleck, the actor who played DCEU Batman, was originally attached to co-write, produce, and direct the movie. Following delays and creative differences, Affleck quit the film, which had to be re-done from scratch. Matt Reeves, who directed the Planet of the Apes reboot sequels, not only directed but also created a completely new Batman, without any connection to the DCEU. Warner Bros. gave him the creative freedom he needed due to their interest in creating the multiverse in their other projects.

It is the most ambitious adaptation yet due to the change in cast, setting, and tone compared with the previous ones. Now that The Batman movie is finally released, where does it rank?

After two years of crime-fighting, Batman (Robert Pattinson) must solve the mystery of the Riddler's (Paul Dano) murders.

Emphasis on the "D" in "DC Comics"

Have you ever wondered what "DC" stood for? It was originally called "Detective Comics" in its early years. Of all the Batman films, this one takes a more noir direction. Rather than the typical superhero tropes, The Batman highlights the detective side of Batman.

It is the mystery itself that makes the writing so compelling. As each victim and clue is left by the Riddler, it gradually builds up the suspense throughout the film, keeping the viewer guessing where the killer will strike next. In a nutshell, the mystery and motivations revolve around Gotham City's history and the people involved. There are also moral lessons about good, vengeance, and corruption in society and a piece on the potential dangers of misinformation on social media.

It is aware that mainstream audiences are familiar with the character's origin and backstory, so it is told from a different perspective. This story, for example, focuses on Bruce's beginnings as a man who is not yet fully experienced as a caped crusader. It also leads to another strength of the writing: the characters, which I'll discuss later.

The only nitpick is that it runs too long. As the longest Batman film in history, it makes sense to take the time to explore the world and characters. I was thoroughly entertained throughout. Some audiences will get bored after, perhaps after the second hour, and wait for Batman to capture the Riddler. While it wasn't without its flaws, Reeves managed to introduce us to a new side of Batman, unlike any other adaptation.

Dark and Grounded Visuals and Action

Upon first glance, some cynics would find the imagery and production values similar to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy where the tone is darker and more realistic. In theory, that may sound true, but this movie still maintains a detective theme while being influenced by Nolan rather than mimicking him.

Grieg Fraser, who previously worked on Dune, provided the cinematography for the visuals. Every angle and shot shows Gotham City as New York City with a crime-filled atmosphere reminiscent of 1970s films. Batman would enter from the shadows in breathtaking scenes that would complement the tone.

The costumes and designs of the recognizable characters are grounded and handmade in keeping with the realistic setting. While Batman's costume is more practical and flexible than high-tech, the Batcave is an old railway system with hidden tunnels, and the Batmobile is more like a muscle car than a tank. The best costume goes to The Riddler. His costume was based on that of the real-life Zodiac Killer, which gave him an intimidating, psychotic appearance. On a side note, the violence gets intense, especially with how the Riddler kills his victims.

In place of fast-paced or stylized fighting, the action sequences are natural and convincing. It naturally shows how Batman would take on a gang of thugs, it naturally shows how he could glide to escape, it naturally shows how a car chase against the Penguin can be exciting and fun. Not to mention the selective scenes with contrasting colors, such as how Batman and Catwoman pop out against the orange skies in the background.

Realistic settings are debatable. Nolan's version remains influential, but Reeves, Pattinson, and the crew showed their passion with the visuals and stood out on their own merits.

Familiar Yet Refreshing Performances

One doesn't know what to expect when encountering another version of a familiar character. However, thanks to the superb casting, these characters stay true to the spirit of the source material while adding a dynamic touch.

In my previous post, I mentioned that Bruce Wayne is a young billionaire struggling to adjust to his new lifestyle as a crimefighter. Despite cleverly not reintroducing his backstory, Robert Pattinson portrays him in the movie as a tireless and solitary individual obsessed with his new vigilante persona while learning the truth about his family's history. His life is almost like that of a rock star with an addiction. In comparison with his previous performances, Pattinson fits the role of Dark Knight very well.

Every character has a purpose and motive in the mystery since the whole story revolves around the detective case. Catwoman, aka Selina Kyle, is the femme fatale who later assists Batman on the case when she is searching for her lost roommate. Alfred is Bruce's family butler who rarely converses with him. Gordon is the lieutenant of the GCPD who trusts Batman and investigates most of the clues with him. Oz Cobblepot, also known as The Penguin, is a nightclub owner and second in command to crime lord Carmine Falcone. Although Colin Farrell does not appear much in the movie, he brings out the laughs that encompass the villain's mafia attitude.

The Riddler is the main suspect in this case. He is a serial killer who seeks out the truth about Gotham City while murdering those who are connected to it. This version of the Riddler shows him as a serious threat while still maintaining a sense of humor thanks to his riddles. You need to see this movie because the more you know about these people, the clearer the picture becomes.

Conclusion

Making another Batman adaptation is not an easy task, but this film proves that anything is possible and stands out among the rest. With emphasis on the detective aspect, a realistic film noir setting, entertaining action, and well-executed acting, The Batman is a revitalizing take on DC's iconic character.

A must-see for superhero fans and noir lovers. When ranking the previous Batman movies, this movie would be up there with the Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan versions. It is an improvement over the Zack Snyder version, which is considered a step in the right direction. Batman will continue to change in many shapes or forms, but it is important to think before you act.