The Batman is finally out after pandemic delays and it’s getting rave reviews. Matt Reeves is bringing a new eye to Batman in live-action by blending horror, crime drama, and of course detective noir. But should you watch The Batman opening weekend? Well, we have five reasons that The Batman is a must-see whether it’s this weekend or when it hits HBOMax in 45 days.
Batman is a detective and he always has been. That said, recent iterations of Batman have discarded that fact and instead focused on the bombastic action set pieces that can be brought to life. But instead of focusing on how big things can blow up (granted there is no shortage of action) or how we could show the grandeur and wealth of Wayne tech, Reeves is focused on showing a Batman who puts things together himself. Every bit of bat-tech we see, including his suit, looks like it was put together by Batman himself. But more importantly, the detachment from Wayne Enterprises is only the start.
Robert Pattinson isn’t a good Bruce Wayne, but he is a great Batman —and that’s by design. In The Batman, Bruce isn’t comfortable in his own skin or his family’s name. He’s a recluse and a far cry from the millionaire playboy we usually get. Instead, Bruce’s life has been dedicated to being Batman, sacrificing sleep and dodging responsibilities that Bruce Wayne should handle. With this, we get a different Batman story than we’ve seen on screen before. Bruce doesn’t matter here, and in a way the identity of Batman is all-consuming. In that way, Pattinson is one of the best portrayals of Batman on screen.
Whether it’s Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle, Colin Farrell as Penguin or Jeffrey Wright as Gordon, the film’s cast is just as much a reason to watch The Batman as Robert Pattinson. Kravitz Kyle offers up a Catwoman that is never a step behind. She’s been through trauma and comes out the other end by putting herself and the people she cares about first. She’s not only a physical match to Batman, but an intellectual one as well. But the confidence that Kravitz brings is made powerful by the twinge of vulnerability under the surface. Ferrell is a very different version of Penguin than what we usually see. However, by embracing the mafioso of the character, Reeves ensured we didn’t also lose the humor.
And finally, Wright as Gordon is quintessential. Working with Batman through the bulk of the film, their working relationship could be a reason to watch The Batman on its own. Not only do we get to see Batman actually being a detective, but we also get to see Gordon do more than just light the Bat-signal and hope for the best. Gordon and Batman’s relationship also pushes the film solidity into the detective noir genre. From the characters’ choices to the mistakes they make in solving the riddles, all of it fits perfectly in a space that adds weight to this Batman story.
There are few comic locations that have taken on a life of their own like Gotham has, and yet, most live-action Batman movies have used it as a simple setting. In reality, Gotham isn’t just a place where things happen, it’s a living and breathing character. It fails and fights as its heroes and villains do. It has a mythic past and more times than not, an uncertain future. Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) captured the gothic beauty and grime of the comics in a setting that felt pieced together for the Bat alone.
A good Batman story links Batman and Gotham together beyond simply saving it. That’s what happens in The Batman. From streets to underground clubs and a dark past tied to the rich in the city, Gotham is as much a character as any of the main cast. It’s dark and harsh and yet magical at the same time. It feels small and large at the same time and ultimately pulled from a Batman comic.
Action in American film is hit or miss. Often, directors either don’t trust their actors to execute choreography, they resort to numerous cuts to hide swapping in doubles, or they just don’t understand that shaky cam and close-ups don’t make a good fight sequence. Thankfully, The Batman hits action perfectly. Reeves allows the fight sequences to breathe, pulling back the camera to see Batman serving up vengeance in full. Additionally, even with a tonally dark film, it’s never hard to see the movement of the fighters. Reeves understands how to use minimal light to highlight body movements and his action sequences are shot with as much attention and cares as the film’s more dramatic elements. Violence in The Batman is an art that extends to scenes with larger action set-pieces like the pivotal car chase that pulls the film into its third act.
Reeves gives bat-fans a car chase sequence that continually builds on itself until the explosions take over. This sequence highlights the batmobile with its shrieking engine beautifully but it also captures the hubris of the villain involved, and why the Bat will always catch up to him.
The final reason to watch The Batman is the score. God, Michael Giacchino’s score is the heartbeat of the film. Whether it’s the pulse-pounding action themes, the reimagining of Batman’s theme that slows it to an intimidating walk through the shadows in an original way, or the use of hissing strings fit for a James Wan film, Giacchino is a master. While Reeves’ script and directing are stellar, and the film’s cast is superb, Giacchino’s score is utter perfection. It makes your heart pound. It makes you feel fear. It makes you feel relief. It’s a reason to watch The Batman.
The Batman is now playing nationwide in theaters.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.