‘The Batman’ is a revelation in modern comic book filmmaking


Jackson Piercy

The Bat (Robert Pattinson) smoldering in the rain. Photo from imdb.com.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been this excited to see a movie for a second time. Batman solo pictures have had one of the better track records in the modern history of cinema, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is the best (or, at least, my favorite) of the bunch. Now, the nearly three-hour runtime is something that can be a bit daunting from the outset, but I can assure you as much as anybody that this film could just as easily be four hours long, and I await with bated breath for the eventual cut that really does span that long — not because the film needs more runtime, but because I want more runtime.

Gotham’s Mayor, Don Mitchell, Jr. (Rupert Penry-Jones), has been found dead in his apartment. His face has been taped over with a cryptic message: “NO MORE LIES.” As he is urged to the scene by Police Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), a young Batman (Robert Pattinson) is on the scene and reads a message written specifically for him. “What does a liar do when he’s dead?” the message asks. Soon after, many other prolific Gothamites fall: the Police Chief, the District Attorney and there’s an attack on the murderer’s childhood nemesis, Bruce Wayne. The Riddler (Paul Dano) seemingly has dirt on everybody, and it all surrounds crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) and his right-hand man Oz Cobblepot (Colin Farrell). All the while, there is another who stalks the shadows in the elusive Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz).

I think in the barrage of comic book films that have been coming out recently, it’s been easy to forget that the comic book is supposed to be subject to the genre, not the other way around. How do you make a good Batman movie? Well, don’t try to make a Batman movie. You make a hard-boiled detective thriller and make Batman the titular detective. Of any comic book movie I’ve ever seen, no single one understands this better than this motion picture. Everything is cast in moral shades of gray under the damp neon lights. This film is as close as I can imagine to what comic book artists and writers are thinking when coming up with the stories and panels in their serials. Every frame is immaculate, every detail is impeccable and every line of dialogue is eventually paid off. I don’t think there’s even a single poor performance in this movie, every single cog is turning in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Even for being three hours long, there will still be details you miss through your second, third, and (deservedly) fourth viewing. Is that not the mark of a truly great motion picture?

I think I’m honestly underselling it with this article. If you haven’t seen this already, see it. If you have seen it, see it again. You’d be doing yourself a disservice watching this only one time. Even not for the details, watch for the intriguing mystery, exciting action, beautiful cinematography and nearly flawless direction. If this is the direction that big-budget movies are going in, the future is bright — almost blindingly so.