Those who know me are aware of my love for The Bat. Batman is my favorite comic book character for a variety of reasons, so when the new movie from DC was announced, I knew I had to see it.
Spoiler Alert: this review goes into some details of the movie and may reveal spoilers for those who have not seen it yet.
When I first saw that Robert Pattinson was cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the latest DC movie, I was unsure what to think. Edward the sparkly vampire as anti-hero masked vigilante Batman? It was hard to see at first. I admit I was skeptical, but as a fan I knew I was going to see it. And boy am I glad I did!
First I want to say that I love ALL Batman movies. Yes, all of them. Animated, live action, bat suit nipples and unhinged Michelle Pfieffer as Catwoman, Heather Ledger’s incredible performance as the Joker — I love them all. When going into The Batman (2022), I couldn’t help but think of how this new universe would compare to Christian Bale’s caped crusader, especially in The Dark Knight, my favorite of the Nolan film series.
I got to see The Batman (2022) in an AMC theater with friends on Monday, March 7th. From the first moment I was hooked and knew I would love the story and characters. The aesthetic? Perfect. The music? Phenomenal. The characters? Amazing. The design? Exquisite. Let’s go into some details.
Batman has been portrayed in many genres: campy and comical to serious, dark, and gritty. In a not entirely surprising twist, this film fits more into a horror genre than the former action-adventure superhero movies. It makes sense because Batman is, after all, a detective. This movie highlights his detective work in a way that other crime movies and thrillers do: with violins and blood. There’s gruesome murders, a serial killer leaving clues, and plenty of police scrambling to bring in the culprit. Batman arrives at the scene of every crime with the help of Detective Gordon, his long-time helper on the side of the law and justice.
The theme of vengeance and justice are heavy throughout the film, with Batman uttering his famous line “I am vengeance.” The killer questions justice and calls out crooked cops and the corrupt system ruling over Gotham city throughout by murdering those who are involved in wicked schemes despite being faces of the law. From the DA to the Commissioner and several in-between, the killer leads cops and Batman on a chase to discover some unhidden truths that have been buried for years. It culminates in a thought-provoking twist that no other movies appear to have touched on before: the Wayne family’s involvement and murder, including the possible killer. Most movies credit the deaths of Bruce’s parents to a common thug looking for money, but this one makes you wonder if something more foul was at play.
Batman comes in many colors. Blue, yellow, gray, and black are the most common appearances of The Bat. The most recognized logo is the yellow bat symbol on a black background. Christian Bale’s new look sported an edgier bat symbol in black and silver. For the 2022 movie, we arrive at one of my favorite color combinations: black and red. The movie posters feature these colors with the title and characters, with merchandise following the same scheme. I think these colors suit Batman well, and they are beautifully highlighted throughout the movie. I’ll go into this more when I discuss the cinematography. Overall, the colors and aesthetic of the movie are dark with splashes of vibrant color in key moments.
The movie shots and cinematography were gorgeous throughout, with darkness prominent and hints of color to highlight key scenes. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Batman is leading a group of people to safety using a red flare. The grouping and colors make the moment stand out in my mind. Much of the movie takes place at night, but there are plenty of ways it highlights color to contrast against the darkness.
“Something in the Way” by Nirvana captures the tone and mood of this film so well that I’m glad it makes an appearance at the beginning and end of the movie. It’s moody sound is haunting in a charismatic way. The orchestral theme of Batman is equally strong and haunting, with recognizable tones that reverberate throughout the film’s score. It’s one of the many reasons why I feel this film is more of a horror movie than action/superhero film.
The score of the film uses violins to create chilling, eerie sounds that clash with the strong trumpets of Batman’s main theme, repeated throughout the film in various ways. It gives the terrifying feeling of murder and death in a way other Batman films have not captured yet. Your heartbeat will pound along with the music in fear and trepidation.
This film features Catwoman, The Penguin, and The Riddler among Batman’s usual crew. Detective Gordon acts as a mediator between the vigilante and police, letting Batman onto crime scenes and going along with him to capture the main villain: The Riddler. This version of the character is much different than Jim Carrey’s wacky Riddler, with a darker theme and backstory. I see hints of Heath Ledger’s Joker and Cillian Murphey’s Scarecrow from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series in this version of The Riddler. He leaves letters to Batman with questions meant to act as clues to the next victim and unlocking the truth behind this whole ordeal. These are accompanied by ciphers that Batman, Alfred, and Gordon work to decipher. There are also videos sent to the media and linked online that remind me of the Joker’s in Dark Knight. Unlike Joker, however, Riddler achieves a following of people who are willing to carry out his deadly plans to create change for Gotham — by killing everyone involved. There’s also an interactive element to Riddler: his website. Used in the film, rataalada.com is a live site that is giving teasers and ciphers that may contain hints to the sequel.
Catwoman, played by Zoe Kravitz, is a mysterious, dark character in this film. Not just a thief who steals from big wigs, she works at the center of the ring alongside villains like The Penguin and Capone. She helps Batman uncover the secrets these corrupt people are trying to hide, but has vengeance on her mind as well. When first introduced, the film hints at her possibly being gay, and then later tries to spin a romance between her and Batman. I felt their relationship in this film was a bit weak, although there was still chemistry between them. Her character is intriguing and dark, willing to kill to find answers and sometimes at odds with Batman. I feel like this adaptation is more true to the comics, and calls back to Michelle Pfieffer’s Catwoman in Batman Returns as well as Halle Berry’s Catwoman. Both are serious, highly skilled and slightly off-kilter versions of the character. In short: I love her, your honor.
Let’s talk about Batman, the title character and key player in the movie. This one’s for the emos and the gays. This Batman brings back the reclusive midnight hunter with dark eyeshadow that’s smudged around the eyes to blend in with the bat cowl. Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne is awkward, a loner, and doesn’t get out much. This is quite contrary to Christian Bale’s Bruce, a philanthropic billionaire who, while sometimes falling asleep in board meetings, still hosts cocktail parties for politicians. Pattinson’s Bruce is hardly seen both in the movie and in Gotham by citizens, looking young and disheveled, not like a privileged rich boy (as he’s called a few times in the movie). He wears dark plain shirts and pants, with his hair usually uncombed, and his one public appearance is met with paparazzi, press, and genuine surprise by the people. And the Bat? He’s hiding in the shadows, taking out thugs and solving crime. The way he fights in this is more aligned with vigilante justice than the more lawful Bale’s Bat, with Pattinson’s Batman willing to seriously injure bad guys to get his point across. The story opens and closes with journal entries of Bruce detailing his adventures as Batman, discussing how fear keeps petty criminals at bay, and his obsession with vengeance for the death of his parents. It’s everything I wanted in Batman and more. He hurts and gets hurt, he’s unafraid of death, but haunted by his own inner demons. Less refined, on edge, and haunted.
Alfred, the trusty butler and Bat handler who raises Bruce after the death of his parents, plays a smaller role in this film. He helps Bruce with the cipher and gives out life advice that the moody man doesn’t quite take to heart. There’s a moment of fear halfway through the movie when Alfred seems to be a goner thanks to Riddler targeting Bruce Wayne, but he pulls through in the end and gets to have a nice heart-to-heart with Bruce. I can’t wait to see more of this Alfred in upcoming films, as I think there is potential for him to play a larger role in Bruce and Batman’s life.
The car. Can we talk about the car? Batman’s Batmobile has gone through a lot of unique looks throughout film and TV, from outrageous to futuristic to street racing. Street racing? Yep. The Batman’s (2022) Batmobile is designed as a modded up street race car built on a Dodge Charger frame. According to a prequel novel, Bruce Wayne used to partake in illegal street races as a teen — which makes me think of Robin in Batman Forever racing through the undercity on his motorcycle. This new car is sexy and threatening in a way that goes well with Pattinson’s Batman, with supercharged thrusters and a tank-like quality to chase down bad guys. Batman mainly rides his motorcycle throughout the film, but the chase scene involving the modified car is one of the most exhilarating experiences of the movie.
DC Comics is releasing a box set that Matt Reeves credits as inspiration for this movie, available at a variety of retailers and published by Penguin Random House. The box set features art by the same artist who created the posters and comics centered around Batman’s early days. It’s up for pre-order now and set to be released by the end of March. I put in my pre-order at bookshop.org and eagerly await its arrival!
The ending of this film has quite the thrilling teaser for a sequel featuring a laughing member of Arkham Asylum who chats with Riddler. There are hints that more is in store for this film franchise, with the Joker possibly being the next villain. Will he team up with Riddler to break out of Arkham? Will we get to see Harley Quinn in a Batman live action movie? (Margot Robbie, my Queen, please!) There’s already a lot of speculation online about what the next film will be about, and I’m excited to see more hints and teasers. What are your thoughts? Who do you want to see Pattinson’s Batman face off against next? Where do you think Matt Reeves is taking this vigilante adventure?
I used the DC collection from Makeup Revolution: Batman mini eyeshadow palette in Mr Wayne, Vengeance, Batman, City, and Fear. Catwoman eyeliner and highlighter. Batman lipgloss over Spencer’s matte lip cream.