Thoughts on The Batman
So, I finally saw The Batman! And I say finally because I’m a huge Batman fan. Always had been. I mean, hell, one of the main Order of the Spirits characters is a crime-fighting vigilante… Are you really surprised?
Anyway, this past decade, DC comic books let me down numerous times, and I can’t say I’m a fan of whatever it is they’re currently doing (a.k.a. running their legacy into the fucking ground…), but that doesn’t negate the hundreds upon hundreds of Batman issues that I read and enjoyed. All of this to say, when it comes to Batman, I kinda know my shit. And, well… I wasn’t excited about this movie.
The first trailer was a fine enough movie trailer when it dropped. It had a great detective/graphic novel vibe, but what was missing for me was a strong Batman vibe. Later marketing for the movie only further put me off, so when the movie hit the theatres, I didn’t much care to go see it.
Some of my friends did end up going, however, and they had interesting things to say about The Batman. Their comments, both positive and negative, got me curious enough to change my mind about buying a ticket. Hilariously, though, the one and only theatre in my city aired the movie for a total of 3 days. That’s right. Three whole days. For one of the most anticipated movies of the year...
Horrible Theatre Tangent
The theatre in my hometown also ruined The Dark Knight for me. Back in 2008, I went to see TDK after high school, with two of my friends. At that time, The Dark Knight had already been hitting theatres for weeks (for some reason, my hometown was last on the list when it came to theatrical screenings), and I remember everyone gushing about the movie—as if I hadn’t been anticipating it, regardless of the mass hype.
Anyway, once we took our seats, the projection started, and… everything was wrong. The theatre screen had a tear in it, the image was so dark we couldn’t see half the movie. We also had to squint to make out the subtitles, which was kinda a big deal since around 30 minutes in, something happened to the sound and the movie went near mute. We could hear the rain outside louder than the movie dialog. I still remember the ringing of the raindrops upon that tin rooftop of the theatre… And do you know that scene in the movie where an enormous truck tumbles over after a car chase? I kid you not, all we got was a puff from the speakers when that played out.
To make things worse, beneath the theatre was a PC gaming center. Counter-Strike and Dota kids would occasionally lose their way to the toilet and wander into the projection room, often arguing and fighting about some stupid shit. One group came in at the final exchange between Batman and the Joker… At that point, I and another random dude in the audience lost our shit and chased everyone off with profanities. Whatever.
I’ve kinda been boycotting this theatre ever since. I was ready to make an exception for The Batman—I am a Batman fan, after all, and my friends did get me interested in the movie—but yeah… The legends at the theatre screened the movie for 3 whole days and decided that was a good enough run.
Back to Preamble
So, as I missed my chance to see The Batman in theatres, I figured I’d have to wait months for the DVD release and all that. But man, COVID really shook up the cinema industry, huh? A little over a month after the premiere, and the movie is out on HBO Max? Hey, fine by me. I waited longer for that TDK screening back in 2008… So, I saw the movie the other day, and here we are!
The Batman Talk
This movie pretty much boils down to an angsty vigilante hunting down a psychotic killer. There are two or three additional storylines that take great liberty with the comic book lore, while thematically, the lines between hope and despair, vengeance and justice, as well as fear and hope (to come back full circle), are all brushed upon.
Furthermore, the atmosphere is strong in every scene, and although I wasn’t crazy about the soundtrack, the music was effective in keeping up that gloomy vibe. In terms of ambiance and visual tone, this movie is consistent from beginning to end, which isn’t an easy thing to do, seeing how the runtime is three hours long.
The movie was well shot, and the photography was on point, though some scenes looked a bit goofy. (The hell was that GoPro gliding footage?) And talking of things that I didn’t like the look of, Batman’s pulled-up collar and lightbulb cowl… what the fuck was that? The winter boots and the little cape didn't help Batman’s image here either, and I know I’m being silly—it’s just a costume—but it’s Batman’s costume! The man should be intimidating, at least in an eery way, not make me question his taste.
The movie also tries very hard to make the character seem hardcore and badass, but next to his lack of good taste, this version of Batman also lacks in the martial arts department. The movie states early on that this is a young, less experienced Batman, but still… having Batman fight like an angry boy in every scene takes away from his physical presence. It convinces me that there’s a traumatized child behind the mask, fair enough, but Batman is supposed to be more than that. If you ask me, it’s not the trauma that defines his character, but the way he transforms it.
Regardless, I could nit-pick about the fight scenes but they’re really not that important. The movie is much more focused on the detective story, and though that isn’t perfect either, I did find it entertaining. There were quite a few silly things, and the detective work mostly came down to brooding until the Riddler’s next clue (and then letting Alfred solve it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯), but it was easy for me to let it all slide. Perhaps I didn’t take this movie too seriously, but hey, I had fun with it!
Going into this movie, I expected to either love it or hate it. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m pleasantly surprised that I fall somewhere in the realm of eh, it’s all right. I get why some people like it and why others find it subpar. To me, the movie is worth a watch, but scratch at its surface and you just might see it fall apart.
Personally, my biggest gripes come down to Batman’s character/presence, or the lack thereof. I’m 100% certain that I would’ve enjoyed this movie more if it was about some new vigilante and symbol. I also think the movie would age better that way. Because, when it comes down to it, although I think The Batman is an okay movie, I can’t say it is a good Batman movie. Ironic, I know, but this take on Batman/Bruce leaves a lot to be desired…
On a final note, I will say that I do support movie studios taking chances and experimenting with the superhero genre like this. I appreciate the tone this movie was going for, and in terms of cinema, The Batman to me is a better film than 90% of what Marvel ever put out.
So yeah… Scorsese did nothing wrong!
All right, I’m out.