Gotham City’s dark knight has been the subject of numerous movies over the last three decades, including the Christopher Nolan trilogy starring Christian Bale and two Tim Burton films with Michael Keaton. Each has had their own personalities – Burton’s were glossy, gothic and over the top (while director Joel Schumacher’s follow ups with Val Kilmer and then George Clooney were just over the top) and Nolan’s were dark and brooding.
2022’s The Batman – as envisioned by director Matt Reeves – is something different altogether. While Nolan’s movies were set in the “real’ world but featured some very unreal characters in its bad guys, this Batman is set in a bleak, rainy Gotham filled with gangsters and corrupt businessmen who would be just as at home on the streets of New York or Chicago as some comic book fictional city.
Bruce Wayne/The Batman here is a recluse – one assumes because he sleeps all day after spending his nights wreaking vengeance on anyone he deems worthy (or unworthy) – not a billionaire playboy who parties when he’s not punching people, and as played by Robert Pattinson, he’s a relatable guy with some serious anger issues. He doesn’t have a room full of gadgets, his Batmobile is just a car with some modifications, and he even stumbles rather than executing perfect landings after falls from a great height. Imagine Brad Pitt’s character in Se7en if he had been given a face mask, heavy boots and a cape at the end and you get the idea.
In fact, it’s not just Pattinson’s Bat who boasts similarities to Se7en, this movie is closer to that grown-up thriller than it is to any comic book adaptation. Bearing that in mind, it’s no surprise that this is dark, often violent (though little blood is shown, it’s still not suitable for younger kids), deadly serious and also pretty long (a little less than three hours).
But there is a reason for its length. The Batman packs in a great deal of story – the main plot being the hunt for Zodiac-style serial killer The Riddler (Dano), while other threads involve crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), gangster Oz ‘The Penguin’ (an unrecognisable Farrell) and thief Selina Kyle (Kravitz) – but there is also enough time to devote to The Batman so he never feels like a secondary character (which has sometimes been the case in previous versions).
It also looks pretty amazing as Reeves’ camera peers through the rain, depicts the threat of a menacing gang on the subway, or captures a stunning car chase through the streets and highways of Gotham that is so tautly shot that you don’t want it to end.
Pattinson, meanwhile, is dark but never pouty or overly brooding, and there is great support from Kravitz, Dano, Farrell, Turturro and – best of all – Jeffrey Wright as Lieutenant James Gordon. Gordon’s relationship with The Batman here is the most convincing, and their partnership is one of the many things to enjoy in this grown-up, tense and twisting thriller.
Is The Batman suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This is a 15 certificate movie in the UK and a PG-13 in the US and is aimed at teens and adults.
There are scenes involving fighting, as well as shootings, electrocution, and hints of torture. However little blood is seen and much is hinted at rather than explicitly shown.
Some characters are killed and there is audio of a woman screaming before dying that may upset sensitive viewers and children. There is also a scene that may frighten in which a man is pursued by a gang into the subway.
The Riddler is masked for much of the movie and some viewers may find him scary.
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