I’ve never seen anything like The Batman.
The Batman is not a superhero movie. It transcends the genre in ways that I never thought were possible. But with a sound story, some brilliant casting choices and the genius that is Matt Reeves, this is special.
Today I want to examine why this film is so special and why I love it so damn much.
On March 4th 2022, The Batman was released in theaters and ever since it was released, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.
It was my most anticipated movie of the year, the trailers had me thoroughly intrigued and the hype surrounding this piece of filmmaking was at an all time high for me. Of course we all know how I feel about this film, it’s a masterpiece, one of the best superhero movies of all time and my favorite film of the year. But WHY? Today I am going in depth on every single thing that I love about this film and why it will continue to be a project I revisit.
In order to truly convey why I love this movie so much, we’re going to have to break this piece up into chapters.
CHAPTER ONE: GOTHAM
I think the opening montage/voiceover of the film is one of the best openings and introductions that I’ve seen in quite some time, and that’s because it’s introducing one of the most interesting characters, Gotham.
The thing that stands out to me most about Gotham in this film is that it is GOTHAM. I love the Dark Knight Trilogy as much as the next person, but The Dark Knight is in Chicago and The Dark Knight Rises is in Pittsburgh. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it.
Gotham in this story is unrecognizable. Now sure there are clearly some inspirations (don’t get me started on Gotham Square Garden), but besides those few instances, this was a completely new city that we have never explored before. And I loved it.
But Gotham in The Batman is much more than just a backdrop to our story, it is a character in itself. The people, the places, they all play a part in this story and the formation of who Bruce Wayne is. In the end this is a story about corruption, greed and the sins of the past. Many times we see that through the eyes of the people it has affected the most.
Without Gotham, this film doesn’t work as well as it should.
CHAPTER TWO: BATTINSON
This film doesn’t work if our Batman doesn’t work. I remember where I was when Robert Pattinson was cast as the titular role and remember the harsh criticism that was received when it was announced. “They really cast the Twilight guy as Batman?” What a narrow minded way of thinking.
While Pattinson made his name in Twilight, he had taken part in various indie films bringing out incredible performances. So the Twilight guy has some chops. I was extremely excited to see what he could bring to the role.
The thing that I love most about this rendition of Bruce Wayne is the nomadic reclusive nature of the character. We have seen the playboy version of Bruce Wayne so many times before, but a broken recluse? That’s a new one. And a welcome one. This version of Batman is gritty, unforgiving, but most importantly broken. He is a human who has scars that have yet to heal. He has nothing to lose and in the end he doesn’t care what happens to him.
All he wants is to help his city, and he will do whatever is necessary to accomplish that. To him, that is his family’s legacy.
CHAPTER THREE: NOT A SUPERHERO FILM
Are you getting superhero fatigue? I hate to say it, but I might be too. I love Marvel as much as the next person but with projects dropping seemingly everyday, sometimes the fatigue can set in. But The Batman is a breath of fresh air from the simple fact that this isn’t a superhero movie.
The Batman is a detective thriller that happens to have a famous superhero as the main protagonist. But in the end, if you look at our main characters, they are regular people.
Bruce Wayne and Gordon are two of the world’s greatest detectives. Selina Kyle is someone who has been treated poorly all her life and is looking to get what she deserves. Carmine Falcone is the standard mob boss and The Riddler is a domestic terrorist, angry with society and using the power of the internet and social media to spread his word.
Sure there are some cool gadgets and a sweet car chase, but in the end, this is a human story about corruption, justice and the idea of legacy. A detective thriller that took inspiration from the best of the genre, like Seven. The Batman breaks the mold and ends the superhero fatigue for just a moment.
CHAPTER FOUR: IN REEVES WE TRUST
I think a lot of the success of this film has to do with the fearless leader, Matt Reeves. It was never a doubt for me when he was announced as the director, his resume spoke for itself. But there was a moment for me that really spoke wonders. The first time Reeves spoke at the original DC Fandome in 2020, I was instantly sold. You could tell that not only he knew what he was talking about when it came to the character of Batman, but you could tell that the passion was there.
This is a technical masterpiece. A true film that needs to be seen, but more importantly experienced. Every single thing about this film is so particularly done and precisely planned and that is all credit to Reeves for having a clear vision of the story he wanted to tell and executing it.
That vision is the thing that I love about this film. We covered it a bit in the chapter above, but Reeves is the first director to fully embrace the dark and gritty nature of Batman. A full detective story that doesn’t pull any punches and focuses more on the brokenness of a city instead of a big bad villain and cool gadgets. This film feels real and that is what Reeves was going for.
The other thing that I love about Reeves’ direction is that he didn’t just take inspiration from the comics, but he took inspiration from Cinema itself. If you know where to look, this is a love letter to the medium of film and it’s done perfectly.
I can’t wait to get back into the universe that Reeves has created.
CHAPTER FIVE: THE CAR CHASE
The sequence that everyone is talking about in this film is of course the car chase in the middle of the film. It’s masterful in every sense of the word and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t my favorite part of the film too.
The moment when the Batmobile is first introduced is one of my favorite moments I’ve ever seen in a film. Yea I know, I know. But it’s true. I will never forget my first time seeing that moment in IMAX. The sound, the visuals, the tension are all perfect.
This is how a chase scene should be. You have the predator and the prey and that is brutally obvious by how this chase is filmed. When you are from the perspective of Penguin, you are always looking over your shoulder. The camera is always positioned to look behind. When you are from the perspective of Batman, the camera is always positioned full steam ahead. It may be subtle, but it makes the chase all that more thrilling.
Everything works here, the camera work, the stunt choreography all the way to the score. All aspects compliment each other perfectly. This is yet another reason why Reeves is so damn good and why his vision was perfect.
The other thing that I love in this sequence is the fact that it was done practically. I covered this in my video last week, but the reason why practical is better is because it is real. The sequence looks real because it is. You can’t replicate the little details on a green screen.
In a three hour film revolving around Batman, you can’t just rely on exposition and narrative to move the film forward. There needs to be some thrills, and this chase scene is one of the best of the best and very worth being in this film.
CHAPTER SIX: FROM VENGEANCE TO HOPE
The last thing I want to cover is the arc of our main protagonist, Bruce Wayne. I know, we see Batman in this film upwards of 75% of the runtime, but this film is an exploration of Wayne and his motivations.
At the beginning of the film we are greeted with Batman beating up thugs and muttering the now famous line “I’m vengeance.”
We are then thrust into a story that explores the motivations of Bruce Wayne and the mentality around wearing the mask. When you look at the overall throughline of this story, there are two moments at the end of this film that are incredibly important in the evolution of the caped crusader.
The first is the conversation between Bruce and the Riddler. This conversation opens a lot of doors for the audience and brings a lot of very hard truths to our main character.
“All everyone wants to do is unmask you but they’re missing the point. You and I both know, I’m looking at the real you right now.”
Bruce is scared. Still living the grief of what happened during his childhood. He feels that the only way to carry out the legacy of his family is to fix the city. But what does it mean to fix the city? Bruce is filled with rage and will do anything to find vengeance. He believes that that is the only way to fulfill his mission.
The realization in this conversation to Bruce is that the Riddler was inspired by the acts of Batman. The “vengeance” has inspired chaos. That is the theme of the second moment in this final act. Confronting the nameless follower. As the final battle comes to an end Gordon confronts a Riddler follower and asks who he is to which he responds “I’m vengeance.”
This is the moment of clarity for Bruce. When talking to the Riddler he brushes it off, saying this is due to the Riddler being sick. But this is the second instance of inspiration for bad people. The vengeance has turned into violence and rage. A chance needs to be made.
Throughout the film Bruce realizes that vengeance is not what will change anything. Hope is the way to make real change. Most Batman movies stay around the same arc, but The Batman is a completely fresh take.
The Batman is awesome. It takes everything you love about the movies and mixes it into a really great story with fantastic casting and a vision from Matt Reeves that is top notch. Not only is it my favorite film of the year, but one of my favorite superhero movies of all time. Every single thing about this project is just spotless.
And that is why I love The Batman.
Jack Lautaret is a film critic, Host of the Jack Lautaret YouTube Channel and the Founder of the Finatic Film Review Podcast. He is a member of the Online Film and Television Association. Twitter: @JackLautaret