Reel Reviews | The Batman

by Charles Kirkland, Jr.

Can Twilight star Robert Pattinson shed the shackles of the franchise and become a credible new Dark Knight in Matt Reeves’ comic book inspired, The Batman?

Despite a very public arrest and conviction of the crime boss Marconi and a masked vigilante running around its streets, Gotham City still has a problem with crime.  When a new threat arises in the city, looking to exact revenge and threatening to expose corruption in the GCPD, Detective Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) must turn to the one person he can trust.  He must call on the masked “freak” that no one in the police department trusts, The Batman (Robert Pattinson).

Written by Matt Reeves and Peter Craig based on a character created by Bob Kane and the comic book featuring him, The Batman stars Wright and Pattinson with Zoë Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, John Turturro, Andy Serkis, Peter Sarsgaard, and Barry Keoghan.  The film is also directed by Matt Reeves.

Originally, The Batman was supposed to star Ben Affleck.  When Affleck stepped down from the film, not only was Robert Pattinson enlisted to star but the entire screenplay was re-written.  Pattinson was hired for the movie when he started shooting Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.  When Pattinson was given the job, Nolan, whose work on The Dark Knight trilogy is arguably considered the best big-screen depiction of Batman, was the first person to congratulate him.  Ironically, shortly into the shooting of the film, Warner Brothers decided to sign Pattinson to star in a new trilogy of Batman films.

This movie was made for Pattinson.  When Reeves was writing it, he had Pattinson in mind before he was even hired for the job.  Reeves claimed that Pattinson had a dark edge to himself that he thought was perfect for the part.  Since the part was written for him, was Pattinson able to pull off the role decently?  The answer is a resounding yes.  Pattinson is menacing as the ultra-violent crime-fighter and as dark and brooding as any other Batman.

Robert Pattison and Zoë Kravitz from The Batman

Kudos to Reeves for his intense direction and insightful screenplay.  If you are a comic book fan, you will love this movie.  This iteration of Batman is the most faithful version of the comic books ever.  In this movie, we get the version of Batman known as the World’s Greatest Detective.  He strolls past police officers onto crime scenes.  He points out evidence.  He solves riddles.  Yet all the time unperturbed by the stares, snide comments, and glances from the lawmen on site.  He instills fear and respect at the same time but is all business.  Smartly, Reeves borrows inspiration from various Batman comic storylines including Year One, Ego, The Long Halloween, and Hush to create the best big-screen version of Batman ever.

Jeffrey Wright is fantastic as the first black man to play Detective Jim Gordon.  The version of Gordon he plays is similar to the one on television’s Gotham which again resembles the comic book more than any other.  Zoë Kravitz is the third black woman to play Catwoman although she is never called by this name in the movie.  She just goes as Selina Kyle and is a seductive and strong force in the movie.  Never over the top in any of her scenes, Kravitz is the perfect mix of villain and heroine with a secret.

Finally, an Alfred that can be respected!  Andy Serkis’ Alfred is not one of those namby-pamby whiners, trying to get Bruce Wayne to “settle down” or get out more.  It may be because this is only year two of Bruce Wayne’s crusade, but this Alfred is all-in with Bruce and has his back.

Despite the two-hour and fifty-five-minute run time, The Batman is surprisingly well-paced.  It does not bother to re-tell the origin story that everyone knows but just throws the audience headfirst into a true detective story that just happens to have choreographed action scenes that are on point.  The Dark Knight was the second movie in Nolan’s franchise after giving Batman Begins as the first film.  The first film in Reeves’ trilogy greatly surpasses Nolan’s first.  Let’s see what happens in the follow-up.

Rated PG-13 for strong violent and disturbing content, drug content, strong language, and some suggestive material, The Batman is the superhero movie that the DCEU truly needs.  It is gritty.  It is sexy.  It is smart. It is the new benchmark for DC.   This is The Batman!

The Batman can be seen in theaters. 

Grade:  A