‘The Batman’: why yes, why not

Because yes: Robert Pattinson and the emo dimension

Robert Pattinson is Bruce Wayne / Batman. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures / ™ & © DC Comics

If we had to sum it up The Batman in five words (and with a joke, of course), would be: “Batman emo friend of the guards”. Seriously, let’s explain point by point, starting from the beginning. There was some doubt among the Batman loyalists about Robert Pattinson’s casting. Instead, the English actor turns out to be an absolutely inspired choice for the direction taken by director Matt Reeves. Because here we are outside Nolan’s grunge declination and into a new dimension: Pattinson’s is a Batman in progress and – in fact – “emo”. He is only in his second year fighting crime, he still suffers from PTSD from the death of his parents (a very open wound), he is obsessed with revenge. More than the superhero, Pattinson plays the tortured boy inside the costume, with the slightly asymmetrical forelock and eyes painted in black, and becomes almost a petulant teenager when the faithful butler Alfred scolds him. The star’s edgy mood works great for this more millennial, moody, pissed off and unstable incarnation of the Bat Man. From Twilight onwards, the British actor specialized in portraying maladjusted souls. And he manages to give the perfect background of pathos and vulnerability for this bluesy interpretation of the character. Pattinson’s Batman works because it’s a state of mind.

Because yes: Directed by Matt Reeves and the creation of a new mythology


“Friend of the guards”, we said. The film is a return to origins, a detour, a prequel that comes out of the canon. And he claims an often-shelved piece of Batman’s pivotal past as a twilight investigator. If in fact Burton, Nolan & C. were inspired in some way by the seminalissimo Return of the Dark Knight by Frank Miller, for Matt Reeves the basis is another Miller comic: Year One, a noir version of Gotham about the superhero who goes back to the early days when Commissioner Gordon joins the police force and Bruce Wayne decides to disguise himself every night to guard and punish. And so is Reeves, who is a very good genre director (Cloverfieldthe reboot of the Planet of the Apes and the US version of horror let me in), finds a solid foundation on which to build a new dimension to bring everything back to the roots of pulp fiction. In addition to the 80s comic strip, in its very solid, solemn and full of dark intuition direction there is the debt towards the French noirs, of Chinatownby Scorsese (Taxi Driveryou see Joker), of New Hollywood and in general of the anti-hero Seventies; but there is also something very Fincher, à la Seven or Zodiac, in the hunt for the sociopathic and baroque serial killer. And not just in history. Reeves’ mythology is much less superhero and much more earthly, made up of protagonists devastated by the traumas of the past, of a rotten Gotham, of corrupt or, at best, obsessed cops. Everything is closer, more relatable. And, even in the wake of previous interpretations, he finds one of his own, definitely more in focus with contemporaneity.

Why not: Taking oneself (a little too much) seriously

Okay: it’s Batman. And the imagery created by Bob Kane has accustomed us to a epos which also this time is not lacking, and it is perfectly justified. What is not always justified, if ever, is taking oneself so seriously (another element that has never been absent in the universe of the Bat Man) in the face of a narrative and psychological structure that is less complex than one would like to believe. We are not, to understand each other, on the side of torment à la Joker, even if the debt to the film that gave the Oscar to Joaquin Phoenix is ​​very evident. But neither the eternal orphan Bruce Wayne nor Paul Dano’s Riddler (see also below), who shares a past of abandonment and loneliness with the protagonist hero, have a thickness beyond their taken for granted characterization (and already quite well known). And even the narrative itself – which revolves around the “easy easy” questions of the Riddler himself – seems more like that of a standard adventure than the pretext for the philosophical-psychoanalytic detour that Christopher Nolan and Todd Phillips had chosen (and guessed at). , albeit the latter “in the absence” of Batman. Sometimes one would almost say: to ‘Bruce, and have a laugh!

Because yes: The cast, with special mention for Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman

Zoë Kravitz aka Selina Kyle / Catwoman. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures / ™ & © DC Comics

Finally a Catwoman worthy of receiving the baton from the divine Michelle Pfeiffer, an unforgotten icon of Batman – The Return by Tim Burton (1992). Forget the 2004 sculpt starring Halle Berry; and also the interpretation given by the very wrong Anne Hathaway, probably the most incomprehensible choice of the whole Nolan trilogy. Zoë Kravitz is perfect: feline, feral, sensual, but also rightly updated to current empowerment. She is in effect a co-star, not a Sanremo-style co-host; she and is, indeed, a character probably more complex and nuanced than Bruce Wayne / Batman himself. The rest of the cast is proof that there are no small roles, but only small actors: and there is no one here. John Turturro, aka the mafia member Carmine Falcone, is excellent as always, Andy Serkis’ butler and the Jim Gordon played by certainty Jeffrey Wright are impeccable, the district attorney whom Peter Sarsgaard portrays is empathically noteworthy. And Paul Dano’s Riddler stands out above all, who gradually reveals himself in all senses, to the point of revealing a nature that differs from that of the classic villains of the saga, starting with the much-loved Joker by Heath Ledger. The one that is less in focus for now remains Colin Farrell’s Penguin: gigionissimo and buried by kilos of prostheses and make-up, for now it seems only a speck, however successful. The solo series already announced is expected.

Because yes: The music of Michael Giacchino

Something in the Way of Nirvana, iconic final track of Nevermind, is a bit like the theme song of the Pattinsonian Batman. Michael Giacchino (former collaborator of Reeves and composer for Lost, Fringe, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Rogue One, Spider-Man: No Way Home) made a revised and corrected version of it for the film, adding piano and strings, but keeping the voice and part of the original guitar. The dark and melancholy lyrics perfectly center the tortured Bruce Wayne in contrast to his own demons. Then there is theAve Maria by Schubert on a couple of explosive scenes (no spoiler). The rest of the very present (too much?) Score is dark, threatening, heartbreaking. It gives voice to the anger that simmers under the costume and tells of a hopeless Gotham, also explaining the noir atmosphere and psychological thriller of the film. In short, the interpenetration is perfect, but don’t fall asleep with the songs of The Batman. Unless you want insured nightmares.

Why not: Duration monstre

Yes, we get it (and it says so too Variety): films nowadays are all long, indeed very long. Especially the blockbusters / cinecomics. Return from the last Spider-Man sbancatutto, which lasted a good two and a half hours, here we arrive at the full three hours, including the credits (a tip: do not stop for the post-credits sequences). And this is really the major limit of The Batman: in the face of magnificent sequences, both narrative and action, at times the rhythm gives way, suffers, trudges, exhausted by a really excessive length of time compared to the story told. And the “political” ending, which should be a frightening flash (also considering the international situation we are experiencing), is instead submerged (literally) by a truly unjustified length. An Riddler-style message to directors, producers, and above all editors: even (more) short is beautiful – and no, it’s not an anatomical-themed riddle.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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