‘The Batman’ Finally Gives us the Detective that Gotham Deserves

The Batman embraces the "World's Greatest Detective" moniker and delivers greatness in a classic noir thriller.

The long-awaited and highly anticipated film The Batman is finally here and Director Matt Reeves really brings it. It doesn’t take long for him to establish his own Batidentity by giving us a fresh perspective on the character and he doesn’t disappoint.

He finally gives us Batman fans the “World’s Greatest Detective” version of Batman that we haven’t seen on the big screen until now. Influenced by popular Batman stories such as The Long Halloween, Hush, and Zero Year, the geek inside of me almost cried immediately as soon as I saw how the film was unfolding just a couple of minutes in.

I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for this noir-ish version of Batman that literally is the closest detective Batman to the comics that we’ve seen up to date, especially from his Detective Comics imprint. We went from one extreme in Ben Affleck who perhaps looked most like his comic counterpart in stature and brute strength to now having Robert Pattinson who is definitely more brains than brawn, but a good mixture of both because his Batman also packs a wallop.

This story also serves him well since we all knew that he would be the most highly criticized part in this film and he may wind up becoming the best take on the character. 

This might be silly but his “Batman voice” may be the best to date as well and the narration bits where we get inside of the mind of Batman are some of my favorite parts because it’s like reading a page from the comics. It really adds to the realism that this world is trying to portray and it gives us insight into how Batman’s clock ticks.

I’m an avid Batman comics collector and have been for years and the focus isn’t often on the fantastical elements of the character but rather on the grittier side of crime in Gotham and his detective and sleuth work showing off his intellect and planning. This film is a crime thriller through and through and Reeves highlights this particular essence of Batman that has never been reflected before on the big screen.

I love how Batman’s most important gadget isn’t even his grappling hook or Batmobile but rather a pair of contact lenses that records every detail he sees which he promptly records in a literal black book which is yet another nod to the comics and Batman’s case files that he meticulously organizes and reviews periodically. His Batcave and use of tech within the Batcave is also the best that we have seen to date.

And with that said, the Riddler was the perfect villain to help launch this new Gotham that Reeves and his team have put together. Played by Paul Dano, he gives the Riddler a certain quirkiness and insanity that aids in developing this darker version of Gotham.

I’ve always felt that if Nolan’s Batman films were to continue, the Riddler would have been the most logical choice and was who I wanted to see next. So in many ways this kind of feels like a continuation of those Nolan films.

The Riddler has undergone some major changes within the DC comics universe in recent years and has taken a much more serious nature, departing from the goofy nature of the character in years past. I feel like Dano was giving us the best of both worlds at times mainly due to his costume looking silly which sometimes took me out of it because although he was wearing a mask that covered the entirety of his head, I kept seeing Dano’s face through the mask because of the glasses over top. I felt like the mask and get-up were unnecessary although it helped give a nod to the goofiness that used to be the character.

The Bat and the Cat (Warner Bros)

Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman was fierce and every bit the equal to Pattinson’s performance of Batman. 

This is the truest version of “The Cat and the Bat” that we will probably ever get, where we see this bond of them partnering up and eventually becoming equals as they learn to trust each other.

Zoe’s Selina Kyle isn’t nearly as villainous as some of her predecessors although she’s always been an antihero for the most part and walked a fine line between doing good and bad. She’s pretty much all good here. She becomes Batman’s first sidekick in this universe and besides her not agreeing with some of Batman’s ideals, they were pretty much on the same page.

The Penguin played by an unrecognizable Colin Ferrell really hammed up that fact. When Penguin is first introduced, the camera lingers on a closeup of his face far longer than they probably would have otherwise just to show us how good his makeup was. And his performance matched the look.

At first, I was kind of taken aback when they announced they cast Farrell as Penguin just to change his whole appearance anyway. Like why couldn’t they have just gone with another actor? And after seeing how he masterfully played the character, it’s quite evident as to why. He was the best man for the job and it showed.

He stole every scene he was in which is extremely hard to do in a film with this many heavy hitters. 

I haven’t even mentioned James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) or Alfred (Andy Serkis) yet, and they held their own as well. Wright’s Gordon in particular really helped push the narrative of this being a detective flick. I loved his cadence and delivery of lines that really added to the motif.

The movie was beautifully shot and the cinematography was gorgeous. The sound really made the movie as well and when the Batman hits you, the sound gave off that energy for us to feel it. Batman’s theme song (the one from the trailer) was also a welcome addition as the song followed him around like the Jaws theme song did for the shark.

Now, with all of that said, this movie won’t be for everyone. I can see some hating this portrayal of Batman because it’s not a typical superhero film at all. There’s a very good reason as to why The Batman got the AMC Artisan Films treatment designation becoming the first comic book film to receive this designation since 2019’s Joker and that’s because this is an art film that has Batman.

Although the mystery thriller holds up, the nearly 3-hour film is quite predictable and because of that, it feels like it’s doing a slow jog to the finish line. I somewhat brush this off to me knowing perhaps more about the character than most and since this film heavily borrows from the comics, the few twists that the film had, I had already seen them coming.

This story is grim and it enriches Batman’s legacy. There’s a good reason that the vigilante archetype Batman originated in comics has been continuously scrutinized for its moral implications, and whether or not his heroism and ideals would stand up in the real world. Reeves doesn’t shy away from this and embraces this, putting Batman through the wringer and in doing so, restoring the legend which is Batman and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next.

The Review

The Batman Review Summary

9.5 Score

Matt Reeves delivers by giving us a film noir detective story with Batman as the head detective.

Review Breakdown

  • Screenplay/Story 0
  • Acting/Direction 0
  • Characterization 0
  • Expectations 0

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