The Batman: No More Lies

The Batman is everything you’re expecting from another adventure with this caped crusader and is unlike any Batman movie we’ve seen yet.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The Batman opens aptly on Halloween night and sees a younger and slightly more naive Bruce Wayne in only his second year as Batman, played by Robert Pattinson. We learn from hearing Bruce’s diary entrieshe started writing since he started patrolling the city as Batmanthat Bruce is at a critical point in his journey as the masked hero, questioning the effect he’s having on the city grew up in and the home he fights for each and every day, Gotham. Bruce is being stretched thin, he can’t be everywhere at once and certain aspects of life in Gotham have only gotten worse in the time since Batman arrived on the scene. A string of murders of Gotham’s most powerful and high profile figures from members of Gotham’s most distinguished offices to a mayoral candidate, whose murder bears a striking resemblance to the manner in which Bruce lost his own parents decades before, a flashpoint that haunts him still decades later. These brutal, connected killings send the city into disarray perpetrated by a masked serial killer named The Riddler who runs rampant with a penchant for leaving clues to be deciphered at his crime scenes. This mysterious murderer seems to have no other aim than to destroy the city that Batman so passionately defends. Wayne befriends a burglar named Selina Kyle, who’s looking for her missing friend, and with a morally upstanding cop, they try to track down the elusive criminal and keep his catastrophic plan from running its course.

Christopher Nolan who helmed the now-iconic Dark Knight trilogy may be the most accomplished filmmaker to show us his take on the bat, but Matt Reeves and the sensibilities he brings to the table feel most suited to this character. Realism, realism, realism even in the most outlandish of set-ups. And it’s just that, like his previous film War For The Planet of the Apes, the character almost never leaves the foreground. He made the trials and tribulations of hyper-intelligent apes relatable and he nailed Bruce’s own inner struggles, communicated brilliantly by those diary entries mentioned before. Oh man, the night isn’t just The Batman’s central setting, it’s Batman’s domain. It’s the shadows that give him his hold over the whole city. Criminals see the Bat-signal and look into a pitch-black alley not knowing who’s gonna walk out and whether or not they’ll be dealt the whupping of the century. And with Pattinson’s Batman, there is terror in those moments of uncertainty and he’s the one we’re rooting for. What is the swirling storm of rage and conviction within Bruce capable of? 

Robert Pattinson had made this character his own. This Bruce Wayne is divorced from notions of charisma or the qualities of the billionaire playboy that he usually has to pretend to be. He’s moody and antisocial and passive like he’s more out of place without the cowl on than with it. This guy’s a full-on weirdo. He spends a lot of this movie fully in the suit and it’s a credit to Pattinson that he can mask act, even when not even a quarter of his face is visible. Batman has to play it cool, he has to be intimidating, without that, he’s just a guy in tactical gear with an affinity for justice and dressing up as a flying nocturnal animal. It’s Pattinson’s eyes that are fully utilized, those wells of emotion that give us a window into Bruce’s internal journey and moments of fear and sadness that he refuses to let other observers see. His crusade has fully transformed him, better for Gotham, worse for Bruce. He is a near-silent cipher for which Batman gathers intel, an invisible cloak of prestige that garners attention from Gotham’s most notable people. There’s something about this Gotham that feels more fully realized than other interpretations and it’s in just making it feel like a real place, Reeves’ Gotham is alive in its lack of life. This is a movie that desperately tries to understand Bruce Wayne and his actively evolving mindset about what he brings to the city he loves by defending it and how his own perception of his own family’s history and Gotham changes through his pursuit of the Riddler.

The Batman shows its admiration for the world and characters of Batman’s universe in the skill with which it brings them to life, original, but familiar. Director Matt Reeves has made a tense, sorrowful, borderline disturbing modern noir about Batman needing to alter his work-life balance. Plus an enthralling mystery that doesn’t lose steam even at almost exactly 3 hours long driven by an ever-expanding web of corruption and a perfectly imperfect Gotham with grit and grime to spare as a backdrop. This is Batman at its finest and hopefully this isn’t the last we see of The Batman. It’s in theaters now.