The latest Batman film is now here and it has definitely been doing quite well at the box office. It’s always nice to see Batman getting more films too because the guy is one of the most well known comic book heroes for good reason. He’s a fun lead and there’s a lot of stories you can do with him. I would definitely say this was one of the best live action Batman films. Under the Dark Knight but it basically takes down everything else. I’m certainly ready for them to bring out the sequel as soon as possible.
The movie starts with Batman crushing some goons. He realizes that he can’t be everywhere in the city at once though and uses the shadows to help him establish that presence among the villains. If they don’t know where he is, then they will always be fearing him as soon as the Bat Signal appears in the sky. The system works but Batman fears that it doesn’t work well enough as crime rates have only risen and the city is as bleak as ever. Meanwhile someone has started bumping off all of the powerful men of Gotham. He leaves a riddle next to each murder addressed to the Batman in particular. The only common element appears to be that he is murdering people who claim to help the people but are actually working with villains or committing crimes on the side. Regardless of whether this guy is murdering villains or not, Batman has to stop him and fast!
As always with a brand new continuity there’s a lot to talk about here although you could say the same would be true even if it was a sequel because the film is super long and there’s a lot to talk about, plus it’s a franchise film so those are fun to dive into. There’s a lot of good things to talk about here and I had my share of issues but in the end it makes for a pretty fun experience. It’s never a bad idea to have more Batmen either so if we do a big crossover some day then maybe we could get them all in one movie.
This Batman is portrayed really well. I like the fact that his costume is finally, truly bulletproof. I always felt like that was a necessity when you are constantly fighting with every random minion in the city. All it takes it a lucky shot to take Batman down otherwise. The suit also has a lot of good coverage, only half of Batman’s face is uncovered but every other part is bulletproof so it would be very hard to take him down that way.
Batman’s got a lot of confidence and he’s also aggressive. This version of the character is absolutely not playing around and the scene of him breaking into the Iceberg lounge to beat everyone up was great. You feel the power behind his attacks and the film helps to build up the suspense in all of his scenes with a lot of dramatic music. While Affleck is still the best incarnation of both Batman and Bruce Wayne, I would say this is my second favorite Batman portrayal.
On the flip side, this is probably the worst version of Bruce Wayne I’ve seen. Not physically, but he just doesn’t look or feel like how you would expect him to be. As Bruce he is rather cold and snippy to Alfred, he’s given up on helping through his money so the guy just hides from the world now and it seems like he breaks down easy like one scene where he runs to a villain for answers. Now, he’s still new at the job and this is a very different kind of portrayal for Bruce but I don’t think it works. He doesn’t even look as strong as he should be considering that the guy should be working out and training constantly in his pursuit of vengeance.
He’s rarely Bruce Wayne in this film so it’s not much of an issue but it’s hard to look at him and think that this is actually Bruce Wayne. At first glance he looks more like the Joker to me. I think by the second film he should have more of a chance to bulk up and get his confidence back. I’d prefer they keep him serious and don’t have him start flirting all the time but having him be more confident and presentable would be a great improvement. Show him starting to use his money for good and to set up systems to make sure this actually works and doesn’t get drowned in all of Gotham’s crazy corruption. It’s probably hard to find good people here but Bruce should be able to find some ways especially since he has his Batman connection to get the job done.
Back to the positives, the special effects were really solid here and the same goes for the battle scenes. The only scene that felt off was Batman gliding across the city. Maybe it’s because the wings are tiny unlike most of his costumes or the way he’s floating but it just looked really off. Felt like a very old kind of special effect like something you’d see out of the 80s or 90s with him flying since it looked like something that could have been done with a fake background. Otherwise you’ll get to see a lot of really memorable visuals and the constant rain is handled well. The spotlights can be a bit bright and the constant cameras taking pictures can grate the eyes a bit but you will definitely not forget the scenery. The battle scenes properly get across the intensity of Batman’s punches as well and are also choreographed well. These may be some of the best Batman fights right now, at least against minions.
The Batman theme is also solid. It feels like a homage to the DCAU theme and my only complaint would be that it feels unfinished. You get the familiar jingles the whole time but it keeps playing as if on loop and the song never climaxes. It just keeps that intro beat until it fades. I would like to see a proper ending to that, maybe in the sequel. The lyrical song that plays 2-3 times is good though. It helps to keep the atmosphere up and the film did a really good job with the atmosphere in general. Gotham doesn’t feel like a fun place to live.
Regarding the long length, I’m definitely cool with it. My rule of thumb is that good films should always be longer and bad films should be shorter. Another way I’d frame it is that length usually has a very minimal impact on a film if any. A film I disliked would likely still be bad whether it was shorter or longer and a film I enjoyed would still be good whether it was longer or shorter. I don’t find length to be too important in that sense but personally I advocate for all films to be 2 hours minimum. From there you can be as long as you want. Even if you go up to 4 hours, the film should still be great if it’s done well.
Batman’s usual supporting cast is around here and they’re solid as you’d expect. You have Gordon who isn’t quite the commissioner yet but you can tell that’ll come in soon. He’s got Batman’s back and they make for a solid team. I definitely thought he was really solid here and would like to see more of him in the sequel. Alfred doesn’t do much here but he’s fun enough. They just need to dial up the sarcasm in the sequel and I’d like Bruce to be a little kinder to him. They don’t have the same friendly dynamic that they usually do and I can’t use stress as an excuse for Batman.
There aren’t a lot of other big allies yet so the cast actually wasn’t huge but that makes sense since as an origin film you don’t want to distract from Batman too much. I expect the mayor will end up being a bigger character in the sequel so we’ll see how she does there. I expect a sequel would also introduce Harvey Dent and possibly Bullock and Montoya as she brings in her staff. So the last big hero here would be Catwoman although that’s not quite accurate as she helps Batman a lot but is decisively still a villain here.
Catwoman looks good here and gets some solid fights. Her costume may not be particularly impressive (The mask just doesn’t work) but she beats her share of enemies and even saves Batman some work on the detective angle by tracking someone down herself along with a lot of evidence. She would certainly be a talented hero if she wanted to be but that’s rarely in the cards for her. I expect to see Catwoman return in the sequel but whether she does or not, this was a good way to introduce her. She at least has an honor code so you don’t mind if she succeeds even as a villain to an extent.
Unfortunately the main villain Riddler was not very good at all and might be the worst main villain in a while. Bane, Joker, Mr. Freeze, and a number of prior Batman villains were more engaging than this guy. I’d have liked for him to have had an actual costume instead of a normal mask. This guy might as well have been Hush or “Halloween” with how he was murdering people considering that he didn’t have that usual Riddler confidence and swagger. The guy cracks a lot and only talks tough when things are going perfectly. Any slip up and he starts slipping as well.
His scenes also tend to be the weakest in the film. He’s one of those villains trying to be as dark as possible so one villain dies in a particularly brutal way and for the other he inflicts some extra harm just to make a joke later on. The film is good at keeping the more violent scenes off-camera so you only know based on the after effects and criminal reports what happened. That is a good thing but I think they could have toned the Riddler down a bit. Make him less of a psycho so you could have more people in Gotham be mixed about the whole thing.
After all, he’s murdering a bunch of villains so if he did it without the torture then you could see why he has so many dedicated followers and groups of protesters cheering for him everywhere. With the torture you figure that people wouldn’t be quite as on board. Either way I’d rather this guy does not return, I just didn’t care for him in any way so as a villain he didn’t hold up his end of the film.
There are a few other villains running around here like the Penguin and Falcone. They’re decent enough, I like that the Penguin is able to talk tough to Batman the whole time. He definitely doesn’t feel the fear the way that most do. For Falcone I like his confidence, the guy never lets up. I’d take either one of these villains over the Riddler as the main antagonist to be honest. That said, I’d rather none are chosen as the main villain of a sequel, staying in supporting roles is the best way to go.
I’d also like the next film to give us an enemy that Batman can actually fight. This film had no real opponents for Batman to test his skills against. Ultimately he only fights random guys with guns for the entirety of the film. That works well enough for an origin but I don’t think you can do that 2 times in a row. The next film absolutely needs a villain that’s more of a threat so we can get more crispy action scenes. As I said earlier though, the battles with the goons are still solid here.
There is a little scene at the end to try and hype you up for some future events. Personally I see it as more of an Easter Egg than anything and it won’t necessarily lead into anything. IN a way I’d rather not because while this character is fun, there are already so many versions that we may as well switch it up. Also based on the context of the scene, we can assume that Batman’s already faced this opponent in this universe and come out on top so lets give him a new threat.
The power levels are all good here as Batman looks very powerful as he should. I can’t think of any moments where I thought that he should have handled things way differently in a fight. The only dramatic moment that didn’t feel legit involves a rope that Batman needs to cut at one point in the film. He has to go over and cut it which nearly needs to his demise so we get the slow mo effect and dramatic music. The whole time I was just thinking…he’s got his batarang on his emblem as established earlier. Why not just toss that? Would have been way safer and then there’s no risk. Felt like he just forgot about it I guess.
The writing is good though. You’ll be invested in the mystery and part of why the film is able to breeze past the 3 hours is because there’s always a lot going on with the various characters and their plots. It feels like an adventure that keeps on changing and adapting and that should help with the replay value as well because there’s just never any time to get bored. On a rewatch maybe you’ll fast forward the Riddler but everything else will be as fresh as when you first saw it.
As a miscellaneous note, the romance here felt rather tacked on. It seems like the writers just felt they had to include some scenes of Catwoman and Batman getting close because it’s expected but there’s just no good reason for it. They aren’t close here at all and barely know each other so it feels like the scenes are out of nowhere. Even the ending is really dramatic with the two of them but it just shouldn’t be. Especially with Batman’s portrayal here where he’s very serious and not the kind of guy to lose focus like that. I think that definitely could have been removed.
As I end things off, there is definitely an after credits scene I would have thrown in or just make this the ending scene instead of the quick easter egg moment. I’d like for a thug to have been running as Batman catches up to him. The guy does the whole “Who are you” as he fumbles with his gun and starts sobbing. That’s when we could get the dramatic “I’m The Batman” response as the film cuts to black. Would have been absolutely perfect and in line with the film’s messaging if you ask me. Ah well, maybe we can lead off with that in the next film.
Overall, The Batman is definitely a solid film that I would recommend. It’s got a lot of quality action and it never drags on so you don’t have to worry about that. The Riddler is a very lackluster villain but there’s a reason why he has never been considered a top tier Batman villain. This film just supports that but it’s always good to give other villains a chance. Maybe next time we could see someone like Clayface, he’s never had a film before and there’s a lot you could do with him. Of course I also wouldn’t mind if they throw in some guest stars like Superman to start a whole new meetup for the first time. The possibilities are definitely endless here.