Batman vs Batman? Absolutely no contest…

Batman vs Batman? Absolutely no contest…

“Ours scars can destroy us, even after the physical wounds have healed. But if we survive them, they can transform us. They can give us the power to endure, and the strength to fight.”

Bruce Wayne, The Batman

So I saw The Batman today, and it is certainly different to what any of the other Batmans can be described as. With an awful lot going on, it does come in at just under 3 hours… but what it does with what it’s got, it’s worth holding on to that pee. Seriously.

What we get here is essentially a detective story which, to be honest, I quite liked. There’s no superhero-ing up with any Justice Leaguers, nor does it have completely ridiculous CGI-based alien invader storylines. Nope, it’s simply Bruce Wayne’s Batman teaming up with Jim Gordon to help solve a crime in his long-run ambition to cure Gotham.

Now, as much as I liked Batfleck, I was relieved that he dropped out of doing another one. Originally signed on from the outset, by the time Matt Reeves finished with the Planet of the Apes finishings, he had moved on to other things… and to be honest, as much as I will always have a soft spot for any kind of superhero movie that involves a team-up cast, I was definitely relieved. Even with the success of the Snyder Cut of Justice League, I’m glad they are putting that particular storyline to bed (obviously once Aquaman 2 and The Flash have come out, the latter of which stars Ben Affleck…) as the DC Comic universe is definitely in need of new faces.

Which brings me on to the case in hand, and the actor on whose exposed jawline this hero now relies upon: Robert Pattinson.

When news was announced of his casting, I was surprised. He’s been known for not necessarily going for the traditional ‘hero’ roles – Edward Cullen apart here, obviously – not to mention he tends to be attracted to the ‘freak’ characters more than anything else. You think to yourself, ‘Is Batman a freaky character?’ and then actually… when you do think about it… he kind of is. He dresses as a bat to fight crime in a city that’s riddled with it… you kind of have to be a freak to willingly deal with that on a daily basis. Anyway, I digress. RPattz took on the role, and I was a bit dubious to say the least. But when the first teaser came out, and then the main trailer, I was getting more and more excited.

Getting excited about a DC film is always a bit dangerous. The last DC film I got excited about was Justice League, which was definitely one of those ‘all the best bits were in the trailer’ kind of movies, and I was utterly disappointed. Same with Shazam, Aquaman and Wonder Woman 1984… I just felt so disappointed when I saw them, that I tried not to get too excited about The Batman as the 4 March release date grew ever closer. But you know what? Low expectations or not, I was impressed. I’d be tempted to say that RPattz (who will now be known as RBatz) is potentially on a par with Christian Bale… maybe, potentially. However, the success of the film isn’t quite just down to the choice of actor, although that is always a huge part of it. It’s to do with the film itself. It’s not a superhero team up movie, it’s just plain old Batman doing what he does best: solving crimes and kicking butt. The Bat’s just human, and although he’s got a bulletproof suit, it’s clear in this film that the bullets do bite back.

Which brings me swiftly on to RBatz’ supporting cast.

First up, The Riddler. If I had to describe him in a word, I’d say unhinged. Same as the Bat, he wants to rid the city of its corruption, but he’s doing it in a way that is unbelievably dark. Almost too dark at times. He’s on the complete opposite end of the scale to Jim Carrey’s Riddler, prancing and dancing in a sequinned leotard. Here there is a puzzle, a proper deep dive into the mind of this serial killer, and I’m not sure about anyone else, but I did find myself looking away at points. Hats off to Paul Dano. He was incredible.

Zoe Kravitz was incredible too. Tough and yet vulnerable. I won’t ruin any of the story by revealing too much, but there’s a twist in there that definitely made me go ‘huh!’, and I just hope we see her back in any sequels. I seem to be remembering them bandying around the word ‘trilogy’, and I sincerely hope she is a part of those. It’s clear that Selina confused Batman. Was she good, was she bad? His moral compass was definitely flickering, but I liked the way you can never figure her out.

Others we have Jeffrey Wright as Jim Gordon, still just a sergeant, as opposed to Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon. RBatz is still in his formative years – where the Batman hasn’t quite made his mark on the city – but it was definitely interesting to the see the growing dynamic between the two. It helped that Pattinson and Wright have on-screen chemistry. The other, of course, is the almost un-recognisable Colin Farrell as Oswald ‘Oz’ Cobblepot, AKA the Penguin. You don’t see him as much as I would have liked, so I hope the trilogy rumours are real. We ain’t seen the last of him.

Right, moving swiftly on to the other bits, cinematography and music.

As mentioned before with the Riddler, if I had to describe the film in a word… it would be ‘dark’. The opening few scenes, the city is engulfed in rain as Batman’s monologue accompanies just oozes dark and dreariness… but it works. Maybe the dark and dreariness, even when its daytime, is meant to reflect the hopelessness of Gotham? But in the scenes where the darkness is juxtaposed with bold colours, the orange and red being the only colour themes working through, it gives us that powerful light to the dark, sultry tones of black. With a film full of noir, those injections of colour are stunning, making it cinematically distinctive and memorable, not just memorable from the poster.

Now, the music. For me, nothing can quite beat the horns created by Hans Zimmer, but Michael Giacchino has certainly given it a try here. I noticed that the hero motif in The Dark Knight films is very few and far between, yet here, the hero motif is heard practically every 5 minutes. It’s fine in a way, because it is a great theme – particular when Bat’s walking towards you in one scene, fire exploding behind him, walking in slow mo – but I do feel like it is a tad overused.

So how does this compare to the other Batman films then? As much as I love Christian Bale’s Batman, I really do think that RBatz has the talent to go all the way to the top. His chiselled jaw does look excellent in the cowl, starkly contrasted with brightness of his eyes, and I genuinely do think he really does make a credible and worthy crime-fighter. 

This film is exactly the fresh start the Batman story needed. We didn’t need another origin story, one where we see how Bruce deals with how his parents have been murdered. We see him as the vigilante, and we see him as the comics originally depicted him as: the world’s greatest detective.

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