‘The Batman’: More than just a superhero movie


Matt Reeves | Wikimedia Commons

Malina Seenarine

What is “The Batman” really about? It can be summed up in just one word: justice.

Directed by Matt Reeves, the movie’s initial release date was pushed back twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other delays. On March 4, the movie was released exclusively in theaters and brought in $128 million opening weekend, more than any movie this year.

Gotham’s skeptical duo, Batman and Lt. Jim Gordon, use their detective skills to catch the Riddler, a serial killer targeting the city’s most elite officials. Along the way, they uncover the corruption that has plagued Gotham for 20 years.

Robert Pattinson stars as the titular character, a decision made by Reeves once Ben Affleck dropped out of the project. What seemed to be a questionable decision at first turned out to be the best one for the film.

Pattinson gave viewers the vulnerable and angsty portrayal of the superhero, one whose eyeliner is smudged after taking off the bat suit and who hardly makes public appearances as Bruce Wayne. He feels relatable.

Although we don’t get the typical origin story in “The Batman,” it is clear that the death of Wayne’s parents 20 years ago essentially shaped everything he is — a boy in mourning just trying to save his city.

“The batman was so good bc instead of trying to make bruce emo in the cool way they let him be emo in the uncool way and it was such a success,” one Twitter user wrote.

The mood of the movie is gritty, dark and dangerous. In the opening scene, the trash-filled, graffiti covered and crime-ridden streets of Gotham on Halloween are shown. Nirvana’s “Something in the Way” plays shortly after which adds to the ambiance.

The city feels forgotten but not dead. It isn’t a place where someone would want to be, but it feels like somewhere that is all too familiar. In one scene, news reporters discuss the city’s future and Wayne wonders if he is doing enough for the city.

Reeves does not try to romanticize Gotham. We see the destruction of the city along with the lavish lives of the elite. This is what leads to the Riddler’s killings of the rich becoming controversial, as some residents believed that he was doing right by the city, to the point where he gained a following.

The Riddler, played by Paul Dano, is the perfect villain for Pattinson’s Batman. He is a reflection of himself and shows the duality of class and privilege. Both were orphaned at a young age but, while Bruce Wayne was getting sympathy from the publicity of his parents’ death, the Riddler was forgotten, stored away in an orphanage from hell.

They both want the same thing: justice for Gotham. They want to take down the corrupt elites but have different ways of getting there.

Another character who is seeking justice is Selina Kyle, played by Zoë Kravitz, the character who would later become Catwoman. Her sense of justice is personal, though it seems her character’s position is uncertain in the film.

Is she a villain for standing in the way of Batman catching the Riddler? Or is she a hero for ultimately helping him find the Riddler? Either way, Kyle and Batman make an exciting pair and much like the Riddler, she is a reflection of Batman.

“Kyle tells Batman he assumes ‘the worst in people,’” The Vulture wrote in a review. “But both Kravitz’s and Pattinson’s performances- hers brazen and unapologetic, his constrained and repressed- make clear that their characters are tempted by cynicism, not defined by it.”

Ultimately, Batman believes he can find justice within the system of the city, fighting one crime at a time, while the Riddler and Kyle believe the city will never change and they must take down the whole system.

While “The Batman” is lacking in action scenes and felt a tad bit long with a two hour and 56-minute running time, the overall cinematography, thought-provoking plot and Pattinson as the Batman make the movie one of the best superhero films.

For those who don’t feel like going to the theaters, “The Batman” is set to be released on HBO Max on April 19.