Fear is a tool. When that light hits the sky, it’s not just a call. It’s a warning.
He protects himself in a diary, the pen is the escape valve, and the paper is a witness to his shortcomings, weaknesses, and insecurities. Before seeing that Bruce Wayne guarding the streets of Gotham City in the bat suit, we have already seen the darkness that springs from his interior and that those shadows that serve as his ally are a natural place for his being. Matt Reeves imagines in The Batman (2022) a hero who is born from emotional torments and who acts on a wild instinct. The decadence that covers his city is the fertile ground for the Batman to find his purpose, even if it takes too long to understand how to fit in to achieve real change.
Gotham City just got a new villain. The Riddler (Paul Dano) has begun to execute key figures in the political ecosystem and the city is shaken. Lieutenant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) turns to Batman to try to decipher the clues that the killer leaves in his wake. The script by Peter Craig (The Town, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay) and in which director Matt Reeves himself collaborates takes us into a police thriller with a strong neo-noir vocation. Batman tries much more to establish itself as a crime film than as a superhero movie, even though in its denouement it throws itself absolutely to commune with the masses who want to see the hero save the world and become an unbeatable symbol.
Batman in the maze
Approaching the unique world of David Fincher’s Se7en (1995), director Reeves recreates for us the gloomiest Gotham city we’ve seen so far. The wanderings of the fearsome Riddler are matched by those of the mysterious killer in Fincher’s film. The scenarios where he perpetrates his misdeeds are drawn with the same infamous aesthetic and the vigilantes go through the same dead ends that torment them. It is in that broken Bruce Wayne, played by Robert Pattinson, that Matt Reeves feeds to create the unique atmosphere of his Batman. Morally challenged and emotionally broken not even the suit that sets him above mere mortals can make this Bruce Wayne find a clear path.
The cinematography of Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty, Dune) fits perfectly to conceive the neo-noir environment in which Batman battles against the villains of the day. The use of shadows and the gloomy tone that weighs constantly on each character coincides with the tone of the speech. It is in those perfectly composed frames that are nurtured by a warm color palette, but with a dark undertone, that the film finds its highest notes. The use of red has an effect of mystery and pays a fitting homage to Frank Miller’s Batman Year One, which serves as the inspiration for Matt Reeves’ vision. The staging, art design, production design, and music by Michael Giacchino (Jojo Rabbit, Spider-Man: No Way Home) elevate Batman to the top.
A rich visual universe
The aesthetic with the incessant rain, the endless night and the neon lights encourages us to remember films like Taxi Driver (1976), Blade Runner (1982) or Akira (1988), while Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne seeks to exorcise the very remembered Wayne from Christian Bale and features his darkest character with an air of Brandon Lee’s legendary The Crow. When the film hovers in the vicinity of the crime thriller is when it feels more fluid and is more categorical, but its script is unnecessarily lengthened. Those three hours weigh too much and make the film lose firmness in its narrative tone.
The Batman makes a place among the best films of the popular hero. The bat finds antagonists that validate him and that provide the necessary counterweight so that the figure of the paladin can be exalted. He also finds his ally Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) who becomes a pivotal piece helping complete certain twists in the story. It is certain that the film will find more followers among the faithful fans of comics than among us ordinary citizens.