“The Batman”: a detective thriller that transcends the comic book genre

Starring Robert Pattinson as the classic superhero, The Batman reinvents the superhero narrative. 

Courtesy of IMDb

Starring Robert Pattinson as the classic superhero, “The Batman” reinvents the superhero narrative. 

Editor’s Note: This article is a review. Views are the individual’s own and do not represent the views of the organization.


There has been a lot of talk around the film community about the over-saturation of comic book movies. Over the last two decades, audiences have seen a vast selection of superhero films with many of them becoming some of the highest-grossing blockbusters of all time.

The superhero trend comes with a cost. With multiple Marvel and DC films being released in a single year, the lack of originality and artistic vision seems to be more apparent. “The Batman” is an exception.

Director Matt Reeves’ new take on the caped crusader proves that the superhero genre has a lot yet to explore. The level of realism, darkness and suspense achieved in this near three-hour epic is a product of what happens when filmmakers are given creative freedom and lean away from studio interference.

“The Batman,” unlike previous iterations of the character, is not an origin story. Taking place in year two, this is a tale of the early days of Bruce Wayne as the masked vigilante. The Batman (Robert Pattinson) is still learning how to fight the underworld of Gotham. He uses fear and vengeance as a tool to achieve justice; however, due to his inexperience, he makes mistakes.

The city is awestruck when a new killer, the Riddler (Paul Dano), begins to target important figures of Gotham. Hoping to unmask the truth and bring real change to the city, the Riddler leaves clues and riddles for his next targets. Batman must now put his detective skills to use and team up with police commissioner Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) and Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz) to bring an end to the killing spree.

Story-wise, the narrative is unlike any other comic book film. As a crime thriller, it puts the audience in the shoes of the main character and asks you to solve the mystery alongside Batman. It seems like co-writer and director Matt Reeves took inspiration from David Fincher’s “Se7en” and “The Zodiac” when creating the style and how the story unfolds.

The mystery-solving is the foundation on which the suspense is built and the creativity of the puzzles and riddles are not only entertaining but add complexity to the narrative. The world-building of Gotham City also has that effect. The city is dark, gritty and screams violence, enhanced by great cinematography and sound design.

Cinematographer Greig Fraser, who was just Oscar-nominated for his work on “Dune,” adds warm colors such as red and orange that set a dangerous tone to every scene. He uses wide shots during action set pieces that allow the audience to see everything and take in the brutality of Batman’s martial arts moves. A lot of the suspense is created by the careful attention to detail. At times, the camera will stay still as it focuses on dark alleys and streets. You will hear footsteps as a silhouette takes form and Batman walks into the scene.

On top of the visuals, Michael Giacchino’s score is epic and memorable even when compared to Hans Zimmer’s and Danny Elfman’s previous Batman themes. Each of the three main characters (Riddler, Catwoman and Batman) have unique music that is played every time they make an appearance. The sound design is also a standout. During a car chase featuring the batmobile, the sound adds to the realism immersing the audience in the scene. Batman’s punches are loud and well-choreographed by Robert Pattinson who had to go through long months of preparation.

When it comes to the performances, all the actors had a hard task to properly portray their characters, especially Robert Pattinson. Bruce Wayne is a damaged and flawed person because of the tragedies of his past, and Pattinson was able to translate all of it with little dialogue through his facial expressions and movement.

Although Pattinson proved he can be a grounded Batman, he was not the best performance in the movie. Paul Dano and his take of the Riddler ranks to one of the best villains in any superhero film. The suspense he creates by his daunting personality will have audiences at the edge of their seats, and in every scene he is in, he owns it.

Zoe Kravitz, as Selina Kyle, also steals the show, bringing a vulnerability to the role. In many ways, she brings the humanity out of Bruce Wayne and carries a lot of emotional and dramatic scenes.

The film has a lot to say when it comes to the effects vengeance can have on a person or an entire city. One of the mistakes Batman makes is that he attempts to bring justice to Gotham by being a symbol of vengeance. By doing so, he may fix problems in the short run; however, he inspires criminals to step out of the shadows, making the city angrier. 

Batman must become a symbol of hope that provides comfort and safety to the people of Gotham. People must know that despite the violence, poverty and corruption, there is someone out there looking out for them. Only then, the city will be able to look past the long years of suffering and rebuild. 

In the end, “The Batman” is the superhero film DC Comics fans have been asking for for years. It delivers on the promises of a darker and more realistic take of the character while building on the strengths from previous Batman films. It is a prime example of what a comic book movie can be, and fans will be talking about it for years to come.