The Batman Returns… Forever?

After 30 years, we finally have a Batman who is defined by more than just toys and re-invented villains for the sake of being cool.

Reader Rating0 Votes
Arguably the best Batman movie ever
Pattinson may not be the best Batman, but is a very close second to Affleck
Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, and John Turturro all round out one of the strongest Batman supporting cast
The film does drag a tad too long, but not to the point of painfulness as The Dark Knight Rises or the recent DCEU stuff
There are some odd scripting bits, mostly with dialogue, but it all works in the context of the noir-esque approach to the character.

As far as the overarching Batman franchise goes, it has been (almost) 30 years since we’ve seen a line-up as extensive as the one we’re treated to in The Batman.

Joining the Riddler (last seen on the big screen in 1995’s Batman Forever), are Catwoman (recently a part of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012), and The Penguin (having been missing from feature films for 30 years since Batman Returns 1992), all earning an essential place in the origin tale of Bruce Wayne as Batman, along with building their own.

Related: What Should You Read If You Enjoyed The Batman?

And while the casting of The Batman’s characters are… interesting to say the least, and maybe even odd (on paper, anyways), they work out very well across the film, forging unique chemistries largely absent from Batman films as a whole. The emphasis here seems to identify that the key element of Batman’s pantheon of characters lies entirely in their humanity, for better or worse, and not in the idea of them as superheroes or supervillains.

Traditional Batman tropes are foregone here to focus on the character’s journey towards being the urban legend that the city may come to see him as. This is a Batman very much grounded in the reality of his city and situation, even more “real” than the version as seen in 2005’s Batman Begins, often regarded as the pioneer of the character’s grittier on-film depiction.

But where The Batman really shines, over its predecessors of the last decade, is its independence from being forced into an imaginary franchise. Much like the Batman of the ‘80s, and ‘90s, as well as The Dark Knight Trilogy, this is not a Batman who has to contend with super-powered beings already occupying the skies, or building a larger universe outside the parameters of Gotham.

More importantly, it’s a Batman that is allowed to be sincerely human. Where a “humanised” Batman has been the recurrent objective of at least the last three or four live action iterations of the character, it is only now that this aim doesn’t result in compromising the character, but strengthening the depiction. In a stark contrast, the more imperfect portrayals of the character, from a still-developing sense of mystique, and reduced reliance on gadgets and plot devices only serve to make this a better Batman.

Robert Pattinson’s casting, quite possibly the most discussed casting of the character since Michael Keaton, works exceedingly well. Of course, this is no surprise to those who have watched him in anything outside of Twilight, but it is still an extremely pleasant surprise. Despite his mellow, and brooding persona, he easily builds on-screen relations with just about every actor, be they allies such as Andy Serkis’ Alfred or Jeffrey Wright’s James Gordon, or antagonists like Colin Farrell’s Oswald Cobblepot, and John Turturro’s Carmine Falcone.

And while he does not share as much screen time with Paul Dano’s Riddler, what little we see is perfection, and arguably yielding more chemistry between a Batman and a Batvillain than we’ve seen in about two decades. Also, all their speech is intelligible this time, which would have been a given at one time, but it is now a thankful bonus in a Batman film.

Intriguingly, Pattinson’s experience as a broody, self-torturing leading man in the Twilight series, may have helped build his chemistry with Zoe Kravitz’s Selina Kyle despite the many other aspects overlaying the not-quite-romance.

Beyond all else, The Batman seems to be the least interested adaptation interested in the dumbed-down Hollywoodisation of the character, a first since maybe 1989’s Batman. Even then Burton’s inherent stylistic choices often prove somewhat divisive to Batman purists. In fact, or probably the first time, we’re seeing a Batman who is not coloured by the lenses of the filmmakers–whether Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, Chris Nolan, or Zack Snyder’s–often allowing their stylistic preferences to either modify or bastardise the character. And, above all else, this film gives us a glimpse of the very many aspects of the character, from the detective, to the caped crusader, to the dark knight–we finally get to see the Batman.

The Batman is out now in all theatres and is truly worth its impressive 176-minute runtime!