The Batman

by Ronan Moore

warner bros/176 mins.

I’d be surprised if you didn’t know who Batman was. At least nine different films with the name “Batman” have come out since the mid 60’s, all featuring billionaire Bruce Wayne stopping the efforts of a criminal, some sympathetic, some sadistic. Matt Reeves’ interpretation of the Caped Crusader is not an enormous departure from previous entries in the pantheon of Batman, as this entry certainly owes its existence to Nolan’s trilogy. However, I do not think that a director’s love for the character has ever been so apparent. This movie forgoes connections to other DC films in order to completely hone in on a variety of aspects that the character brought to audiences on the page. Reeves’ infatuation with the character makes for a curious case study in fandom, for better or worse.

The Batman starts with this particular interpretation of the character (Robert Pattinson) in his second year of vigilantism in Gotham City. The police know him, and save for Jim Gordon (Jeffery Wright), they don’t much like him. Much to their chagrin, working with Batman is the only chance they have at stopping the newest threat to Gotham – a deranged serial killer with a penchant for brain teasers known simply as The Riddler (Paul Dano). Every member of this cast puts out spectacular performances, with my personal favorite being that of Jeffery Wright, whose casual use of “man” when referring to the guy dressed in gun metal grey gives me a good chuckle.

Unfortunately, I do feel that the film wavers when it comes to consistency across its 3-hour runtime. There are many moments, like the introduction of Pattinson’s Batman, that excited me and even gave me goosebumps, but there are just as many moments where I feel the mystery is drained from this detective story because Matt Reeves seems to struggle with subtlety in a lot of cases, making it feel like you’re being told important plot elements just to move the story along. There are also a handful of plot elements that, while not necessarily poorly written, are not essential to a story that’s already packed so tightly. It’s apparent, after some deliberation, that this movie did not require almost 180 minutes to tell a solid and effective story.

Public perception will be interesting to watch, especially since the Batman character is a role model of many men, young and old, across the world. I think it’s especially interesting when considering the fact that Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman not only serves as a rather forced love interest out of obligation to source material, but also does not truly get the agency she deserves in her own story. What I hope this film will inspire is conversations about masculinity, and the lessons we take away from a man that is still learning how to truly be a hero. But who knows? Ultimately, it’s an entertaining, if a bit bloated, cinematic experience that is definitely worth an eighth of your day.

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