The Batman, which was part of the larger DC Extended Universe and was released on March 4, 2022, is believed to be one of the more fan-serviced movies, with many hailing it as ‘The Batman We’ve Always Wanted.’ Although the Batman character has been in films played by various actors for decades, the first comments to this cinematic outlet have been mainly positive, fulfillling viewers’ thirst for the real deal. Bruce Wayne, featuring Robert Pattinson as the Dark Knight, already garnered much attention due to the actor’s notoriety. And the actor himself became such a vital part of the process of experiencing the actual Batman’s original feel without reinventing the character as is customary.
The Past Batman Movies
Among all the superheroes that we know, Batman has probably the greatest number of adaptations and versions, be it in a cartoon, movie or even a series. Many of us most likely grew up with these variations of Batman. Created by the DC universe, Batman was first introduced to the world in May 1939 in comics. If we were to venture into the universe of Batman, spanning across cartoons, comics and movies, we’d be here for quite a long time. So, for this article, Echo hopes to focus solely on Batman’s movies, as per the topic of the article.
Batman’s first serialization on the screen would be a 15-chapter theatrical series by Columbia Pictures back in 1943. Lewis Wilson played the Caped Crusader, and his sidekick Robin, who was featured in the film, was played by Douglas Croft. This first adaptation of Batman proved to influence the rest of the Batman comics and movies. To be more precise, the trademark Batcave and the appearance of Alfred, the Wayne mansion butler, was initially portrayed as a stout man, but due to William Austin’s slim and gentlemanly appearance in the series, DC decided to opt for it as the audience were attracted to it more.
For Batman, the first coloured movie would be in 1966 in which Adam West was cast to play the superhero. The late actor played a more fun and enjoyable character of Batman here in contrast to the recent ones. This was followed by a psychological thriller version of Batman by the infamous director Tim Burton. While this version of Batman faced many criticisms due to its mind-boggling plot, Michael Keaton still holds the title of being one of the most memorable Batmans in both the Batman(1989) and Batman Returns(1992). He is set to reprise the role in the upcoming DC Extended Universe films, The Flash and Batgirl.
Due to the backlash faced from Tim Burton’s Batman, Warner Bros resorted to director Joel Schumacher, who presented a less gory and mysterious version of Gotham starring Val Kilmer as the main lead and Chris O’Donnell as Robin. In the next serialization of Batman, where the sexiest man alive, George Clooney was casted as Batman, joined by Chris O’Donnell as Boy Wonder; it was picturized as a more cartoonish film rather than Batman’s usual dark tones.
Batman was revived again in 2005, marking the beginning of the Dark Knight trilogy, with Christian Bale adorning the cape in this movie series. The film starts with the mysterious past of the Caped Crusader, weaving a story filled with action-packed scenes and an edge-of-the-seat plot.
Since 2013, we have Ben Affleck playing the masked vigilante in the DC Extended Universe such as the Suicide Squad, Batman vs Superman and up to Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The Academy Award winner has played Batman in a total of 10 movies since then. While he has remained as a fan favorite for many years and has done great justice as the brooding superhero, DC has decided to venture into new possible actors such as Robert Pattinson, the topic of our discussion.
The Good and The Bad
There has been a fair amount of mixed reactions from a number of critics. Each of them has a different take on this new and brooding version of Batman. Echo has taken the liberty to choose some of the striking reviews to pick it apart for our readers.
At the top of the list, CBC News’ Eli Glasner writes, ‘why so serious? Robert Pattinson’s The Batman is a joyless slog’. A not so flattering remark, the writer points out quite a few of the flaws that he feels the audience might have missed. Right off the bat, he states that although the director, Matt Reeves, planned to have this Batman more as a film noir, it came out more so as something from a comic book (although, in reality, Batman is from a comic) rather than what the director aimed for. The CBC writer also feels that Batman isn’t much of a sleuth. To quote him, ‘the problem with this Batman is, he does more reacting than revealing. And for all the clues he’s given, he’s actually a dismal detective’. He also expresses that Batman and Catwoman, played by Zoe Kravitz, have a positively inert chemistry between them.
However, Bilge Ebiri from the Vulture, takes on a more stimulating note, where he probes the readers to view how The Batman is different from all its past adaptations. He starts off by writing,
Robert Pattinson’s Batman walks so gingerly, so quietly into most of his scenes in Matt Reeves’s The Batman that at times you wonder if he’s meant to be more ghost than superhero. It makes sense on a practical level: If a guy is going to lurk in the shadows and do everything to avoid being seen, he probably shouldn’t burst his way into every room. It also makes sense on a spiritual level. This saddest of heroes has a physical presence that matches his melancholy.
Usually, most superheroes have thunderous entries that are filled with roaring background music, the lightning flashing behind consecutively, and the panning of the camera in multiple angles for about a good three minutes. Bilge writes about how much darker the Batman movies have gotten, starting from the Dark Knight to the Joker in 2019 and finally Matt Reeves’ The Batman. He explains, it is not only the villain that remains in the shadows, rather the hero who wears a cape is also watching his prey, waiting to pounce.
The writer claims that the movie’s charm is watching a familiar superhero, trying to figure out what differs from a good guy and a bad guy, the thin line between right and wrong. This can be seen quite clearly when the movie reveals a few similarities between the villain and the hero, especially when Batman’s hunting of his targets is shot in a similar manner with the villain.
While earlier, Eli Glasner states that the Batman and Catwoman lack chemistry, the writer for Vulture begs to differ, saying that the sexual tension between the two is quite high and ‘a surprisingly horny superhero movie’.
The Movie Reviews
Disclaimer: The content below is based on the writers’ personal opinions.
Batman has always been a superhero to me. However, the current Batman film confronted me with the brutal reality of Batman’s true life – a vigilante-turned-gothic hero’s origins. Mainly because, compared to prior versions of the film, Batman 2022 provided more background on the story’s setting. The way Gotham City is consuming itself was depicted realistically, and for the first time, the superhero did not dominate the story’s goal. It was a Batman who emphasized the character’s identity and origins in the most obvious way imaginable. It was a significant departure from the pool of adaptations accumulated over time.
Talking about Robert Pattinson, the first movie that dawns on your mind would most likely be Twilight, one of the most infamous fantasy series. I have to admit seeing Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen completely ruined me for his other movies. I couldn’t possibly see him as any other character.
The Batman, however, thoroughly impressed me with Robert’s performance as Bruce Wayne. The first thing that struck me was how haggard this Bruce Wayne was compared to the ones before. He had sunken and hollow eyes with terrible dark circles and even his walk was stooped. The previous Bruce Waynes’ were pictured as philanthropists, throwing glamorous ballroom parties, attending prestigious art events and being extremely charming (not that I’m saying Robert Pattinson isn’t; he is very charming). Bruce Wayne here is the same as his alter ego, lurking in the shadows, with deep and dark secrets shrouding him. In a nutshell, I would definitely say Robert Pattinson was a one of a kind Batman.
I loved, loved Catwoman truly. Zoe Kravitz was completely stunning, playing the elegant seductress and the daughter of a powerful mob boss, Carmine Falcone, who’s entangled with the Wayne family’s mysterious past. I would say that the chemistry between the Cat and the Bat was completely sizzling and kept those in the theaters at the edge of their seats the whole time. One of the few aspects that I could appreciate with Zoe’s interpretation of Catwoman would be, instead of playing the part as a cold-blooded, merciless temptress who killed for her own; Zoe’s Selina was a more gentle and powerful character with strong feelings which made her more of a human being.
Truth to be told, the movie’s plot was a bit similar from the past Batman movies, a psychotic murderer causing mayhem in Gotham with mastermind plans to destroy the city. Add on to the fact that this movie was much darker, violent and gory compared to the rest. One other thing that struck me was the unique panning of the camera, especially when they showed Batman walking. Matt Reeves clearly enjoyed dabbling with the lighting of the movie; although it was quite a morbid sort of setting, the lights created more emphasis during a scene.
Overall, I would give Matt Reeves’ Batman a solid 8 out of 10. It was remarkable, although I felt there could have been a more thrilling plot rather than following the traditional manner. For those who haven’t managed to catch it in the theaters, do go and check it out! It’s undoubtedly worth watching!
Written by: Jamie and Poorani
Edited by: Maki