The Batman Review – Fear the Knight

James O'Brien


‘The Batman’ is the best adaptation of the caped crusader since the Nolan redefined the comic book genre with ‘The Dark Knight’. A dark detective noir with elements of horror, this film is the next big leap for the character that we’ve all been hoping for.

Following a younger Bruce Wayne as he attempts to solve a string of murders orchestrated by the psychopathic Riddler, the film quickly becomes a battle of wits between the pair, as the story questions how different they actually are, and why one man’s justice is another man’s villainy.

Director Matt Reeves does an exceptional job at creating a world that the audience can fully immerse themselves in, with a tone closer to that of a gritty noir mystery than a superhero movie. The cinematography is astounding, with some shots being more eye-catching than the comic panels that inspired them. Yet the greatest contributor to the film’s overall atmosphere is Michael Giacchino’s unparalleled score. Creating a constant state of tension, whilst also perfectly encapsulating the essence of each character, this booming musical accompaniment is what really takes the film to the next level.

Robert Pattinson takes up the heavy mantle as the latest in a long line of Batmen, yet instantly stands out from the others. Taking inspiration from famous comics such as Batman: Year One and The Long Halloween, this Batman is early in his vigilante career, and it shows. For example, his new suit has noticeable stitching and rugged combat boots and the Batmobile is a souped-up muscle car. The bone-crunchingly visceral action scenes further cement this, with Batman being far more brutal in combat than ever before.

However, what makes this the most comic-accurate interpretation of the Bat to date is the film’s mastery of two key aspects of the character. Firstly, Batman is terrifying from the perspective of the criminals. When the Bat-Signal is in the sky, they flee in fear, afraid that he could be lurking around every dark corner, ready to strike. This is a truly fascinating angle to explore. Secondly, Batman is a detective. Rather than focusing solely on the action, we instead see Batman’s investigation skills as he inspects crime scenes and finds clues. What makes this even more engaging is that the audience get to follow alongside him, always being in the loop. This gives the twists and reveals a far greater impact.

Paul Dano’s Riddler is the version of the character that many fans have waited years for. Unlike the campier incarnations of the character, such as Jim Carrey’s Riddler, this Riddler is genuinely scary. It is obvious that a lot of inspiration was taken from both the infamous ‘Zodiac Killer’ and Saw’s ‘Jigsaw Killer’. Setting up nefarious traps for his victims and leaving creepy messages and ciphers for Batman, Dano shows how twisted the character can be. With his eerie appearance, heavy breathing, and habit of appearing in the background, he is a straight-up horror villain at times. On top of that, he is clearly a dark reflection of Batman himself.

The rest of the cast are just as outstanding. Zoë Kravitz is a brilliant Catwoman, Colin Farrell’s Penguin is refreshingly comedic, and Jeffrey Wright’s Gordon is a great Watson to Batman’s Sherlock. Even Gotham itself feels like a character, with plenty of comic stylisation to balance out the gritty realism, making the city feel more alive than ever.

‘The Batman’ is not only one of the greatest Batman films of all time, but also one of the greatest comic book films of all time. Taking the character in a bold new direction whilst also being his most comic-accurate portrayal to date, this film is definitely a riddle worth solving.

James O’Brien

Image Credit: DC Films