With “The Dark Knight” (2008), Christopher Nolan set a new standard for the superhero epic. It was dark, complex, and thrilling. Thus, it became unforgettable. Anyone who has wondered what Cloverfield director Matt Reeves’ vision could look like now gets the answer: Darker! This time Bruce Wayne is questioning the concept of a superhero and attracts viewers to the cinema to watch The Batman.
THE BATMAN STORY
For the past two years, the billionaire Bruce Wayne has roamed the dark streets of Gotham City as Batman standing against the city’s criminals. Alfred Pennyworth and Lieutenant James Gordon are his only confidants amidst a corrupt network of officials and high-ranking figures. The lone avenger has established himself as the sole authority of vengeance among his fellow citizens.
As his investigation advances and the scope of the criminal’s plans become clear, Batman must forge new relationships in order to uncover the culprit. So, he has to put an end to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.
When a hitman targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic attacks, a trail of cryptic clues leads the world’s greatest detective deep underground. There, he encounters popular characters such as Catwoman, Penguin, Carmine Falcone, and the Riddler.
THE BATMAN CHARACTERS
BRUCE WAYNE AKA BATMAN (ROBERT PATTINSON)
When the film opens, it’s Halloween night and everyone wears a costume. Bruce Wayne patrols the streets not as himself, not in the Batsuit, but as someone in between Bruce and the Bat. A shadowy persona that Reeves dubbed the Drifter. Clad in nondescript, dark clothing with kohl-rimmed eyes. The Drifter’s brooding, nihilistic bearing hangs heavy on his frame…and his soul.
If the Drifter looks for trouble, it’s as The Batman that he takes action once he finds it. Bruce is in year two of his self-appointed role as Gotham’s embodiment of vengeance. The nocturnal vigilante who strikes fear in the hearts of criminals.
A reclusive scion of Gotham’s richest family questioning his family’s legacy. He employs a lethal combination of mental mastery, physical strength, and expert technology. Yet his emotion drives him.
“There’s a level of rage in him, which makes him difficult to beat,” Pattinson observes.
The idea was to explore the concept of being masked and what it means, says Reeves. You have a guy who, at the end of the day, may think he’s mastered himself. But he is ultimately trying to find meaning in his life after the death of his family. When he masks himself and he’s in pursuit of this goal, he becomes the shadows. That complexity is really unique to Batman.”
Reeves says about casting Pattinson in the role, I was keen to show a different side to the character. I wanted him to have almost a recluse rock-and-roll vibe, a cross between Kurt Cobain and Howard Hughes. Bruce Wayne is an obsessive guy. And that was one of the things that were exciting to me about Robert Pattinson. He has the intensity to bring that to life.
SELINA KYLE AKA CATWOMAN (ZOË KRAVITZ)
Selina Kyle is a mysterious figure. She is quietly infiltrating Gotham’s seedy underbelly to further her own agenda. Her fierce attitude and tenacious agility are the perfect tools to excel as a cat burglar. But hidden underneath the array of identities and the motorcycle leathers is a protective soul who’s more at home with the city’s strays than its citizens.
Zoë Kravitz stars in the enigmatic, fan-favorite role. Evenly matched with The Batman, Selina is initially at odds with him, presenting another puzzle for Bruce to solve.
Reeves attests, I knew right from my first meeting with Zoë that there was something very special about her. I could sense her connection to Selina Kyle. Besides, I could feel that this was a character that she felt a kinship with, that she was internalizing. I talked to her about trying to find a way to make this character a survivor and somebody who had to fight her way in Gotham.
In the film, where the character intersects with The Batman seems predestined: his investigation leads their paths to cross. But according to Kravitz, it was really inevitable. Because they are essentially fighting for the same thing, even though their methods may vary.
ALFRED (ANDY SERKIS)
In Bruce Wayne’s world, loyalty and trust come in small doses. Fans of every Batman film, however, know that the first place he looks for it is in the familiar pillar of strength, Alfred. He’s Bruce’s closest ally and the only person to know The Batman’s identity. Alfred wrestles with Bruce putting his calling to serve the citizenry ahead of his duty to protect the Wayne family legacy.
The personal relationship between the two has been reimagined to a certain extent. Pattinson posits that Alfred is the surrogate father who never chose to be a surrogate father. He had Bruce thrust upon him. He’s a slightly emotionally stunted person himself. So, it’s a very complicated emotional setup. He is a kind of father figure. But not really, moreover, he’s an adviser and an equal.
Andy Serkis explains, There have been many interpretations of Alfred. But we focused on the untold emotional connection between Alfred and Bruce. Alfred has a sense of survivor’s guilt. Because he was Thomas and Martha Wayne’s bodyguard. Therefore, he feels deeply responsible for their deaths. He’s very fastidious and ordered and on top of things. A man, who prides himself on keeping things together and doing an extraordinary job.
LT. JAMES GORDON (JEFFREY WRIGHT)
Alfred may be in on the secret, but this lone vigilante also needs someone he can trust on the outside. And so, we quickly learn he is already in the league, albeit anonymously, with Lt. James Gordon. The film begins when The Batman is still a relatively unknown figure in Gotham. Gordon, one of Gotham City Police Department’s finest, is still among the rank and file.
Like Alfred, Gordon is a crucial element of the Batman universe. The filmmakers turned to an actor with quiet gravitas to fill the role: Jeffrey Wright. The actor was thrilled, revealing he was a Batman fanatic as a child, enthralled by both the comics and the TV series.
A seasoned cop with a clear sense of integrity who provides the GCPD with a much-needed moral compass, he’s the only public figure who counts The Batman as an ally. In fact, it’s Gordon who brings him into the investigation of the gruesome murder of the mayor on a hunch. And he does so, without the support of his colleagues and the authorities above them.
EDWARD NASHTON AKA THE RIDDLER (PAUL DANO)
According to Reeves, the film explores the parallels between Bruce Wayne and the villains he pursues. The Riddler is a serial killer whose motivation is gradually revealed. He exposes these supposedly legitimate Gotham figures who turn out to be corrupt. Batman and The Riddler share a philosophical view of the city, and of crime and corruption.
To play the role that pushes Batman toward the precipice, Reeves says, I did start thinking of Paul, but I had no idea if he would want to play this character. The Riddler is brilliant. Someone whose great power has to do with patterns. He has a very dark agenda. And he has retreated into numbers and puzzles. Because that’s the one place he can find control.
The Riddler, Reeves continues, is an iconic, mythic character. So, he needed to be larger than life. He needed to be grand in his use of puzzles and ciphers to taunt and tease and lead this city. Batman, in particular, toward this message that he’s trying to reveal about why this city is this corrupt.
OZ AKA THE PENGUIN (COLIN FARRELL)
Another longtime favorite from the DC Super-Villain lineup featured in The Batman is The Penguin. Also known as Oz, in the movie, he is the proprietor of Gotham’s exclusive nightlife hotspot, The Iceberg Lounge. It’s a meeting place for the city’s underworld. While this shady crook is known for running his mouth as well as running operations for the city’s top gangster, Carmine Falcone, he definitely has designs on even more.
Actor Colin Farrell transformed completely for his role. He says, The idea to work with Reeves on a new version of a property he loves was an easy “yes.” Farrell relates, Matt’s an extraordinary director. He makes really huge and incredibly entertaining films that always have a very real and significant emotional core. When I heard that he was doing Batman and that there was the opportunity to play Penguin, I was thoroughly intrigued.
CARMINE FALCONE (JOHN TURTURRO)
If Oz seeks a higher level of power, he could take the position held by Carmine Falcone. He’s the head of one of Gotham’s most established crime families. Holed up in The Shoreline Lofts, this hermit manages to exert power and influence on the city without taking a single step outdoors. Played by John Turturro with a disturbing level of reserve.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY GIL COLSON (PETER SARSGAARD)
Another character who is meant to speak for the people in cities big or small is the district attorney. However, Gotham’s DA, Gil Colson, appears to have lost his way. Instead, Colson looks the other way when it comes to the activities of Gotham’s biggest crime bosses. At the same time, he enjoys the perks of the job as one of the city’s top lawmen.
Peter Sarsgaard plays the pivotal character, who comes in contact with both Selina and The Batman in a locale most district attorneys wouldn’t – and of course, shouldn’t – frequent.
THE BATMAN CONCLUSION
Writer and director Matt Reeves created a completely different Batman movie, But he still managed to fit in the Gotham Universe. It is exciting and great to watch, even though there are no surprising or new elements. A lot looks like you’ve seen it before. Some things in these three hours of running time are staged sluggishly. The action scenes are mostly predictable, without real tension arising.
The reason for that may also be due to the fact that too many superhero films have been produced lately. Moreover, during the years, there were several different versions of Batman. Of course, that makes it difficult to create a blockbuster cinema that continues to captivate viewers. Howsoever, THE BATMAN is probably the best that a Batman film can be today.
The cast is great. Especially, Zoe Kravitz and Paul Dano have stolen the show from Robert Pattinson. The grungy Batman, who is inspired by Kurt Cobain, is definitely a new version of the guy with the bat suit. It proves that he is worthy of playing him, but the depressive and dirty style may not be everyone’s taste.
In the end, THE BATMAN should win over many fans. Besides, maybe the film and Robert Pattinson also convince the Christopher Nolan fans to watch it. With a surprising ending, it definitely makes you want a second part.
Text: Maria Znamerovskaja, Betty Aregi
Pictures: © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.