THE BATMAN (2022) – A MOVIE THAT IS LOYAL TO THE TRUE ESSENCE OF BATMAN

The Batman is a 2022 American superhero film and a reboot of the Batman film franchise. This reboot brings in Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/The Batman alongside Zoë Kravitz (Catwoman), Paul Dano (The Riddler), Jeffrey Wright (Lt. James Gordon), John Turturro (Carmine Falcone), Andy Serkis (Alfred), and Colin Farrell (The Penguin). The movie is directed by Matt Reeves. As a movie it shows a much younger and rage-filled Bruce Wayne compared to the Bruce Wayne portrayed in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.

On Halloween night, Gotham City mayor Don Mitchell Jr. is murdered by a man calling himself the Riddler. Reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne, who has operated for two years as the vigilante Batman, investigates alongside the Gotham City Police Department (GCPD). Lieutenant James Gordon discovers a message that the Riddler left for Batman, but commissioner Pete Savage berates him for allowing a vigilante to enter the crime scene and forces Batman to leave. Soon after, the Riddler kills Savage and leaves another message for Batman. The movie sets itself apart from previous Batman movies, by focusing more on the crime-solving skills of The Batman rather than his prodigious fighting skills.

Batman and Gordon discover that the Riddler left a thumb drive in Mitchell’s car containing images of Mitchell with a woman, Annika Koslov, at the Iceberg Lounge—a nightclub operated by the Penguin, mobster Carmine Falcone’s lieutenant. While the Penguin pleads ignorance, Batman notices that Selina Kyle, Annika’s roommate and close friend, works at the club as a waitress. Batman follows Selina home to question Annika, but Annika disappears, so he sends Selina back to the Iceberg Lounge to search for answers. Through Selina, Batman discovers that Savage was on Falcone’s payroll, as is district attorney Gil Colson. Selina shuts off communication when Batman presses her about her relationship with Falcone.

The Riddler abducts Colson, straps a timed collar bomb to his neck, and sends him to interrupt Mitchell’s funeral. When Batman arrives, the Riddler calls him via Colson’s phone and threatens to detonate the bomb if Colson cannot answer three riddles. Batman helps Colson answer the first two, but Colson refuses to answer the third—the name of the informant who gave the GCPD information that led to a historic drug bust ending mobster Salvatore Maroni’s operation—and dies. Batman and Gordon deduce that the informant may be the Penguin and track him to a drug deal. They discover that Maroni’s operation transferred to Falcone, with many GCPD officers involved. Selina inadvertently exposes them when she arrives to steal money. As the Penguin flees, Selina discovers Annika’s corpse in a car trunk. Batman captures the Penguin but learns that he was not the informant.

The Batman in this movie, is a vigilante who works with the cooperation of the police, who project a bat-sign into the sky, with a bright light, as a call to him and a warning to evildoers who anticipate him swooping in. Yet, as he lands on a subway platform and lays low a gang of young miscreants, made up Joker-style, who are assaulting an Asian man, the victim is also struck with fear and pleads with the Batman not to hurt him. The Batman describes his uneasy role as an avenger—indeed, he says, as vengeance itself—in a voice-over that holds out hope that the superhero will be endowed with at least an average level of subjectivity and mental activity.

Batman and Gordon follow the Riddler’s trail to the ruins of an orphanage funded by Bruce’s murdered parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, where they learn that the Riddler holds a grudge against the Wayne family. Bruce’s butler and caretaker, Alfred Pennyworth, is hospitalized after opening a letter bomb addressed to Bruce. The Riddler leaks evidence that Thomas, who was running for mayor before he was murdered, hired Falcone to kill a journalist for threatening to reveal embarrassing details about Martha’s history of mental illness. Bruce, who grew up believing his father was morally upstanding, confronts Alfred, who maintains that Thomas only asked Falcone to threaten the journalist into silence, and planned to turn himself and Falcone over to the police once he found out the journalist was murdered. Alfred believes that Falcone had Thomas and Martha killed to prevent this.

Selina tells Batman that Falcone is her neglectful father, and decides to kill him after learning that he strangled Annika because Mitchell told her that Falcone was the informant. Batman and Gordon arrive at the Iceberg Lounge in time to stop her, but the Riddler kills Falcone as he is arrested. The Riddler is unmasked as forensic accountant Edward Nashton and incarcerated in Arkham State Hospital, where he laments about failing to kill Bruce. He does not realize that Bruce is Batman, whom he idolizes and took inspiration from when targeting the corrupt. Nashton believes that Batman was working with him, but Batman rejects him sending him into a rage. Searching his apartment, Batman learns that Nashton has stationed car bombs around Gotham and cultivated an online following that plans to assassinate mayor-elect Bella Reál. The bombs destroy the breakwaters around Gotham and flood the city. A shelter is set up in an indoor arena, where Nashton’s followers attempt to kill Reál but are stopped by Batman and Selina. In the aftermath, Nashton befriends another inmate (who appears to be The Joker), while Selina deems Gotham beyond saving and leaves. Batman aids recovery efforts and vows to inspire hope in Gotham.

The Batman is dark…not just in how the story is portrayed but also in how the movie looks like. Extremely dark and extremely long but it is a good tale and pulls in the viewers. The villains are interesting and new – Colin Farrell portraying Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin and transforming completely into it. One thing The Batman franchise, barring Ben Affleck’s take, that the actors chosen as villains all seem to shine – Paul Dano’s Riddler, Tom Hardy’s Bane and the best of them all – Heath Ledger’s Joker. Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle / Catwoman is also much better than Anne Hathaway’s take or Michelle Pfeiffer’s in Batman Returns. Halle Berry’s version shouldn’t be discussed at all. The Penguin in this movie is sort of finding his feet and not the crime lord of Gotham he is supposed to be, as yet. Dano’s take on The Riddler is intriguing and threatening albeit a little whiny at times.

Last but obviously not the least, Robert Pattinson as The Batman himself – the question we were all asking – will he be able to do it? The short answer – yes. His take on The Batman, shows a much more younger Batman who brings the aspect of repressed rage within him out during his fights. He is a Batman who is still finding his footing in Gotham City and slowly growing into his vigilante role and becoming a Dark Defender of his city despite all its flaws. A definite upgrade on Ben Affleck’s dreadful and dreary portrayal but still not as good as Christian Bale in the Dark Knight trilogy. But all signs are good and it looks like Robert Pattinson will be able to handle the big weight on his shoulders. Matt Reeves portrays Batman as he ought to be – more of a crime fighting sleuth than a rich brawler with fancy gadgets. The first take on Batman was good and fans are eagerly awaiting his version of The Dark Knight – a sequel which blows away its predecessor.

JAY’S VERDICT

Watch for Batman as he ought to be – fans of the comics will not mind the long running time but could be a bit slow for neutrals.

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