Looking back at the history of 21st-century film, I think we can all agree that the rom-com genre dominated the early 2000s of cinema. However, the 2010s and now the 2020s are wrapped up in the chokehold of superhero mania that has practically taken over Hollywood. And, on March 4, “The Batman” joined the genre’s ever-growing catalog — one that has been ruling the box office charts with an iron fist and the snap of a finger.
Starring “The Twilight Saga” heartthrob Robert Pattinson in the role of the Batman and the stunning Zoë Kravitz in the role of Catwoman, the film was unarguably one of the most anticipated of the new year. Aside from its striking cast list, “The Batman” garnered a lot of attention for its theatrical debut, considering the “Joker” (2019) film’s massive success. Fans had high hopes for the newest rendition of the beloved DC character and the film managed to rake in over $500 million dollars worldwide.
So, like most fans consumed by the world of comics, I arrived at my local theater the weekend of the release to see the path the film’s director, Matt Reeves, decided to take with Bruce Wayne, whose story has been told so many times before — 13 times on the big screen, to be precise.
As “The Batman” began with its whopping two hours and 56-minute duration, I could immediately tell this film was unlike the other DC Comics films about the vigilante. From the start, “The Batman” carves its own path, ditching the classic, and in my opinion, boring cliche: the origin story sequence that takes place at the beginning of so many Batman films. Instead, Reeves incorporates the early days of the Wayne family throughout the film’s plot.
Pattinson’s rendition of the character has an eerie and spine-chilling vibe that immediately oozes off the screen. As a viewer, I found myself boiling over with intense anxiety, which I think was on purpose — I believe Reeves wanted the audience to be placed directly in the shoes of Batman, to feel the emotional turmoil that comes with trying to save those in danger, even though you can never save them all.
In the typical fashion of any Batman film, the reboot is filled with an abundance of action-packed and high-stake sequences, which don’t refrain from making the audience anxiously sit up in their reclined theater seats. In the wake of the familiar, “The Batman” also gifts viewers with the presence of the sultry and sly Selina Kyle — better known as Catwoman.
Throughout Kravitz’s portrayal of the woman in black (and kitty cat ears), she does an exquisite job of evoking the real emotions of the trying life Kyle has lived and completely embodies her survival mode mindset. This was a refreshing shift from the “Catwoman” film released in 2004, which was so cringe-inducing that the world has been trying to forget the film’s existence for the past two decades.
Kravitz gifted the world a better Catwoman portrayal than we’ve encountered in the past. However, there are a few moments in the film that made me scratch my head and wish they would’ve been trashed during the film’s final cut. The main one is the little cat-themed nods sprinkled throughout Kravitz’s time on screen. In one scene, Kyle randomly drinks a pint of milk during a heated conversation with Wayne and in another, the camera finds her apartment swarmed with tons of cats, despite her and her roommate receiving multiple eviction notices due to their $500 rent not being paid. Although intended to be cute and slightly comedic, I just found these nods to be odd and something the film could have gone entirely without.
In the most recent Batman films, we saw Wayne battle the serial killer clown or Superman, but “The Batman” introduces a different contender to the ring — The Riddler (played by Paul Dano).
The Riddler wreaks havoc over Gotham City as he targets prominent political figures and others with power in the city. However, I found that things got kind of confusing at times. While the cat and the bat try to figure out when The Riddler will strike next, there were tons of names being thrown out, making it difficult to decipher who was important to remember and who wasn’t.
Overall, the newest remake of “The Dark Knight” manages to challenge everything we once knew about the character, while also finding a way to stick true to the roots of DC Comics. Although that doesn’t diminish the faults of the film at all — equipped with a run time long enough to make you fall asleep and so many characters that you’ll feel like you’re playing the name game — I found myself asking a major question once the end credits began to roll: Was it worth three hours of my life and the price of admission?
To be completely honest, for superhero fanatics or those who just like to see what’s new in theaters, I would hold off on this one until it’s released on streaming platforms in late April. “The Batman” is not really great and it’s not really shockingly bad — it’s just kind of in the middle. However, in the ever-growing genre of superhero media and in consideration of groundbreaking films like “Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) ” and “Wonder Woman (2017) ” being “mid” in the superhero genre just isn’t enough anymore.