The Batman  gives us a new director, a new vision, a new story, and a new man under the mask. Filmmaker Matt Reeves — whose writing and directing achievements are nothing short of impressive — brings a dark and gritty take on Gotham City and the caped crusader. Robert Pattinson lifts the heavyweight of the Batman this time, which was, perhaps, the most shocking casting announcement when this movie was in development. Did Reeves deliver on the hype? Can we finally move past Pattinson’s time in Twilight (That’s a joke. The Lighthouse was enough proof that Pattinson is heading towards top-tier acting). Is Paul Dano terrifying as The Riddler?
The City: There is no doubt that The Batman delivers the most vile, most corrupt, most eerie Gotham City that has been adapted into a film. The opening minutes of the movie is enough to make your skin crawl. The constant rain and overcast create a dull blanket of depression and anxiety that cannot be escaped. There are no highlights to Gotham City; no glimmers of hope. Gotham feels like its own character that can never be saved, no matter how hard a vigilante fights.
The Cop and Cat: Zoë Kravitz and Jeffrey Wright should be immediate crowd favorites for their portrayal of Selina Kyle and James Gordon. Kravitz feels a lot different in comparison to what has been seen so far in adapted films. The Batman delivers a Selina Kyle that is raw and unpolished. Her abilities are not off the charts. She is grounded in the reality of her circumstances. Jeffrey Wright is also stunning as James Gordon. However, he did have a lot to live up to in his performance (tip of the hat, always, to Gary Oldman). This is a different type of Gordon. He is an advocate to The Batman and a true partner in crime. Reeves’s script does a perfect job of giving Gordon those great detective moments, and Wright finishes the job with stone-cold acting. If there was a movie with just a premise about a case that Gordon was investigating on his own, it would be an easy watch.
Dano-mite: I was personally ecstatic when the news of Paul Dano as The Riddler dropped. Dano proves that he can play the sadistic and puzzling antagonist, tapping into his past performances in There Will Be Blood and Prisoners to give us a truly terrifying and psychotic Riddler. If you want the gimmick comic book character, then the Jim Carrey portrayal is perfect (honestly, it is a great version of the character). But that spin on The Riddler could not work with Reeves’s vision. Reeves needed Dano to tear apart Gotham City — Dano does so with ease.
The Bat: As The Batman begins, we are treated to an introduction to the city; some of the nightly poison that infects the lives of its citizens; the crimes that go unseen; the fear. Never has there been such fear induced by a Batman portrayal. Pattinson immediately takes the role of the vigilante and fully controls every frame he is in. Something that is noted early is that this is a year two Batman. This is a Bruce Wayne that is still navigating his young life. He is not a philanthropist. He gives no attention to anything other than being The Batman. The most refreshing and exciting part of this Batman is the great detective features that have always been missing in film adaptations. The combat scenes are brutal with the youthful aggression that this Bruce Wayne possesses, but Matt Reeves wrote a script that gives us more than the gadgets and fists. We are enlightened to the brilliant investigative brain of The Batman. Pattinson delivers on all of these tropes with near perfection. His Bruce Wayne is not superior to what we have already seen, but his Batman makes others pale in comparison.