It’s been almost 10 years since The Dark Knight Rises, the end of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Nolan’s trilogy was praised for its Oscar worthy performances and the introduction of a grounded look at the caped crusader. Gone were the colorful campy villains that fans saw in Batman Forever, and real world heroes and villains were inserted. Nolan gave fans a gritty Gotham City that always felt like it was under a dark cloud, literally and metaphorically.
After Nolan’s run, Ben Affleck took up the cape and cowl for Zack Snyder’s Snyderverse. This gave fans another version of Batman. This version played up the playboy antics of Bruce Wayne and the fancy tech Batman had at his disposal.
After a few Snyderverse cameos, director Matt Reeves (Let Me In, War of the Planet of the Apes) was next up to explore one of comic book’s most complex superheroes in the aptly titled, The Batman.
The film starts during year two of Billionaire Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) paroling the streets at night as the vigilante known as The Batman. When the mayor is killed on Halloween night, a note is left for Batman from a serial killer calling himself The Riddler (Paul Dano). With the help of Lieutenant Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), Batman begins investigating a string of murders in Gotham that are connected to Riddler.
Batman’s investigation leads him on a search for a missing woman. The woman’s disappearance forces Batman to enter Gotham’s underworld of crime and corruption. He crosses paths with Penguin (Colin Farrell), crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and a nightclub waitress/cat burglar named Selina Kyle aka Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz). Catwoman and Batman team up to help take down Falcone, find the missing woman, and stop The Riddler before he can kill again.
The Batman goes back to the character’s grounded universe that Nolan brought to life in 2005’s Batman Begins. Because Riddler is busy matching wits with Batman, the story isn’t just Batman giving criminals multiple compound fractures. This Batman story is more of a detective mystery than the previous films. It’s more Fincher’s Zodiac than any Batman film before it. It’s Batman in his costume tracking down clues for 90% of the film. It may sound boring but it’s very interesting. It’s the detective side of Batman that fans have been praying to see onscreen.
That isn’t to say there isn’t any action because there is a lot, and it’s pretty good. The fighting is reminiscent of Batman’s fights in the Batman: Arkham games – it’s a lot of blunt force, aggressive moves, and he’s very dangerous. The best action sequence is a chase sequence with Penguin. There are a few moments from it in the trailer, but that’s just a tease. The reveal of the batmobile is absolutely wonderful and the scene only gets better from there.
Zoe Kravitz’s is fantastic as Catwoman. She’s on a mission of her own and is going finish it with Batman’s help or not. Her portrayal is reminiscent of the Catwoman Adrienne Barbeau voiced the 90’s Batman: The Animated Series. Kravitz is believable as a waitress, cat burglar, badass, and a formidable foe for Batman. The way she used her claws and moved quickly like a cat was a nice touch. With all due respect to Michelle Pfeifer and Ertha Kitt, this may be the best portrayal of Catwoman and Selina Kyle.
Matt Reeves not only delivers a different look at Batman but unique take on Gotham City and the corruption that has lead to city being swallowed by criminals. Even with the film feeling about 20 minutes too long, it doesn’t impact how good the film is. This is the Batman film fans of the character hoped to see. This film is a good mix of everything fans want to see in a Batman film. Let’s hope Matt Reeves and company takes us on a deeper dive into Gotham next time.