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The Darkest Dark Knight: "The Batman" (2022) Review

Arif is an entrepreneur and freelance writer that has posted several featured articles and has a passion for the arts and popular culture.

The darker tone of The Batman

The darker tone of The Batman

The Dark Knight has never been darker. Matt Reeves's latest take on the beloved Caped Crusader brings on a vision for the titular character that is fresh and exciting for both casual cinema-goers and comic book fans alike. This new iteration of the Batman shows how the character has truly evolved from its inception in comic books to cheesy tv shows and to the big screen. Robert Pattinson is now the seventh actor to don the black cape, and he is tasked with showing a truly different side of the Batman—one that has not been seen before.

Right from the opening sequence, audiences are thrown into the dark, brutal, and gritty world of Gotham City—a place where nothing but chaos, crime, and corruption rule the streets. And it seems like the only form of order in all that mayhem takes the form of a dark and menacing phantom vigilante whose only goal is to seek vengeance on those who have chosen the life of crime.

The film takes on a more neo-noir element and sees The Batman fulfill the role of a skilled detective rather than a larger-than-life mythical being. Grounded in reality and doused in a beautiful yet edgy shade of black and matte red, the film takes us into the psychology of Batman—divulging all the pain and sorrow that he carries within.

Batman, Catwoman, The Riddler and Penguin

Batman, Catwoman, The Riddler and Penguin

Characters

Robert Pattinson truly embodies the damaged character of Batman. We see him more as Batman rather than Bruce Wayne—seemingly an intentional choice to show how Batman is who Bruce really is. Pattinson is able to convey the trauma of his past and feelings of alienation with just the expression on his face. Bruce seems to be able to find meaning and purpose under a black mask and armored suit—for without it he is lost. It is clear that his portrayal shows how Bruce Wayne is long dead and only The Batman remains.

As the film progresses, Batman goes through a unique character development as he begins to realize what it truly means to be Batman. He evolves from being a symbol of fear and brutal justice to more of a symbol of hope in a desperate world—a hero.

The Batman is not alone, however. In his struggle for justice, he is joined by Jim Gordon. The dynamic between him and Batman is fantastic — one that is akin to the likes of many crime dramas in the 90s and early 2000s like Se7en, Gone Baby Gone, and Mystic River. Jeffrey Wright’s take on the character is one that is brooding yet witty, hopeful yet desperate. And his camaraderie with Batman truly captures the essence of two equal partners in law enforcement.

While Jim Gordon serves as Batman’s right-hand man, Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman is the heart—of not only the dark knight himself but of the film in general. Her character arc serves as the emotional core of the film, making the audience feel empathetic towards her struggle to escape the underground world and seek retribution from those who have wronged her.

Acting

The ensemble cast delivers excellent performances across the board. While many of the supporting characters like Jim Gordon, Selina Kyle, and Carmine Falcone are played tremendously well by their respective actors, it is Colin Ferrel’s performance as The Penguin that truly steals the thunder. Ferrel is absolutely unrecognizable as the underground mob boss and is given enough screen time and purpose for the actor to showcase his acting ability, leaving us yearning for more. (I can’t wait for the Penguin spin-off series!)

Last but not least, we have the criminally underrated actor Paul Dano who plays the main antagonist, The Riddler. Although his face is covered with a mask throughout most of the film, Dano uses the dynamics of his voice and body language to truly convey the madness of the cryptic killer. And when he is finally revealed, we are gifted with an astonishing display of acting prowess—one that mixes psychopathic insanity with emotional depth—leaving us with feelings of both fear and sympathy all at once.

Plot

Detective Batman is on full display here. The Riddler has executed a string of high-profile killings that plunges The Batman into a cat and mouse game filled with hidden messages, codes, and riddles.

The mysteries of these murders are slowly unraveled in a beautiful dark symphony of horror—one that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, despite its almost three-hour runtime. Matt Reeves’s directing and writing feels like a David Fincher-esque crime thriller—one that manages to balance visceral comic book action sequences with elements of a grounded police procedural.

Does the plot justify the film’s long runtime? No. Some scenes could have been cut or edited more compactly without compromising the flow of its story. On top of that, the film stumbles somewhere in the third act with its pacing but still manages to be an effective slow-burn that leaves the audience ultimately satisfied by the end.

The Bat and The Cat

The Bat and The Cat

Overall

2022's The Batman is by far the bleakest and most unique of all the iterations. Matt Reeves directs this film with such self-assuredness and attention to detail that any doubt of yet another version of the caped crusader is immediately dispelled within the opening sequence. With this new take of the beloved character, the hopes of fans for a new and exciting world of Batman are rekindled.