The Batman (2022)

Raw, powerful, emotional, dark, mature, & noir; a love-letter to Golden-Age Hollywood and Se7en/Arrow/TAS/Daredevil/Nirvana-themed nihilistic detective origin story of gloom, chiaroscuro, tragedy, malfeasance, & rage w. Best TDK Performance Ever: Pattinson. 8.7/10.

Plot Synopsis: Batman ventures into Gotham City’s underworld when a sadistic killer leaves behind a trail of cryptic clues. As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans become clear, he must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued the metropolis.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

The Official CLC Review

Ugh, *Another* Batman Movie?

‘Who?’ ‘What?’ ‘When?’ & ‘Where?’ Were Amongst The Questions From Bat-Diehards; Many Cinephiles Were Stuck On ‘Why?

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

We could feel the palpable auditory groans when it was announced: a new Batman movie [& ostensible trilogy]. ‘Who?’ ‘What?’ ‘When?’ & ‘Where?’ were amongst the questions a diehard minority of the general populace had as first reactions to the breaking news, but we – and a majority of the film community – were stuck on: ‘Why?’. There have been 40+ Batman and Batman-themed projects across movies, tv shows, and video games over the near century’s history of the 2nd oldest superhero; many of those even merit pantheonic god-tier prestige amongst their entire artform/medium: The Dark Knight Is to-date the greatest & most revolutionary Comic Book Movie [CBM] & A Top 10-20 Film Of All-Time, The Animated Series consistently ranks by publications and fans as one of the best TV series ever made, & The Arkham Games are thunderously applauded as masterworks of VG and the definitive character experience. Why could not have the hundreds of cast prep. hours, thousands of studio henchmen, millions of behind-the-scenes details, and hundreds of millions of dollars requisite to make the film been reappropriated to bringing other legendary comic book icons in DC’s library to the big screen – including members of the the very Justice League Batman comprises, yet outnumbers cinematically from 4:1 to 40:0 ratios? We were ready to hate this film from its pronunciation onward,… until the very first trailer dropped.

Back To The Beginning

The Greatest Teaser Ever Made, Reeves Bat-Signed A Bold, New Vision For The Canon To Silence The Cynics.. Months Into Production

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

We can remember it like it was yesterday: the sour cacophony of duct tape juxtaposed with the gloom-drenched tones of Nirvana and bone-crunches, ghastly imagism of suicide bombers and portentous riddles, cameos of major DC villains, and hype-catalyzing subversion of expectations with the infamous line ‘I’m Vengeance’. Matthew Reeves dropped what is – easily – The Greatest Teaser Ever Made back in August 2020… impossibly a mere few months into production just for the sole purpose of flexing his new-age vision for the canon and what, by-design, would convert the biggest skeptics-to-believers [us included]. After now seeing the final product, we’re sorry to have ever doubted him – and it’s clear now how iron-solid like a batarang that vision was, enough to justify another Bat-revival’s existence even in the wake of a neverending exhaustion of TDK & CBM’s in general. Back To The Beginning, Reeves crafts a raw, powerful, emotional, dark, mature, complex noir love-letter to Golden-Age Hollywood and Se7en/Arrow/TAS/Bogart/Daredevil/Nirvana-themed nihilistic detective Year One origin story of gloom, chiaroscuro, tragedy, criminal psychology, vigiliantism, politics, corruption, news, marxism, & rage – cherishable, despite a growing weariness of the one hero’s ciné-spotlight over DC’s preponderance of alternative icons, bad costume designs, a few miscasts, & mixedly-executed/superfluous final act, by a chef d’oeuvre old-world Giacchino score, richly-immersive Gotham City worldbuild, bold cinematography palette, wild mystery storytelling, & epic performances led by the Greatest Live-Action Batman Of All-Time: Robert Pattinson.

A Source of Misc. Inspirations

Se7en, Arrow, TAS, Daredevil, Nirvana, Bogart, Noir, Golden-Age ’30’s Hollywood

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

Most striking about The Batman from its opening frames is just how immersive Gotham City is. This doesn’t feel like NYC, LA, Chicago, DC, Miami, etc.; you truly feel like G.C. is a real world entirely its own – a cesspool of crime with its own identity from the opening fear pscyhoanalysis montage that instantaneously establishes tone and just might be our new favorite Batman scene *ever* made. The worldbuilding, aestheticization, & visual experience were key factors of major importance to cinematographer Grief Frasier [whom has now delivered two all-time staggering blockbuster optical experiences… back-to-back: Dune & The Batman, deserving major props for the canvas he crafts here & called the most complex job of his life (chiaroscuro, atmosphere, lighting, contrast, etc.)], Reeves, & co. from the beginning according to press/tour interviews. Reeves – though his filmography is admittedly ~scarce for a director in their mid-50’s – has gone for the quality-over-quantity model and poured his guts and soul into each of the projects across his critically-acclaimed portfolio: from the ’90’s TV drama Felicity to ’00’s found-footage disaster apocalyptica epic Cloverfield to new-age horror/romance classic Let Me In [Let The Right One In] to science-fiction animal rights activism Planet Of The Apes trilogy. He’s a known Batman-diehard – born into the ’60’s Adam West revolutionized by indoctrinating a generation of kids and average U.S. households to comic book media and the caped crusader with his charmingly über-campy, psychedelic take of pure gold/silver-age-comics gaïety. You feel in every take how important this dream project of passion was for him: the post-title narration scene alone comprehensively summarizing, celebrating, and understanding everything the Caped Crusader is on the atomic level. You can also find every type, element, & genre of his filmography above incorporated into The Batman – while also sourcing inspiration from a multitude of other eclectic, perfectly-aligned projects.

A Chef D’Oeuvre Gotham City Worldbuild

Most Striking From Its Opening Frames Is How Immersive G.C. Is: Not L.A., NYC, Or Tokyo; A Crime Metropolis W. Own Identity

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

From its first batsuit-reveal trailer that overtook the internet, DC fans noticed a stark invocation of Batman: The Animated Series. The ’90’s TV show was the first true screen achievement of what would become everything that defines the caped crusader as we know him today, and it’s a herculean pleasure to see it so obviously invoked as the film’s core inspiration for the first real time in live-action. The references can be found before even going into the film: the marketing consistently motif-izes it with the art deco touches and employs the exact same vibrant hue of red from the original posters. Acoustically, the entire orchestration of the film eulogizes Batman: TAS. Giacchino’s score is a masterpiece of thick, sinister, ominous atmosphere that lingers on the palate long after the credits roll: anchored by the haunting low-octave minor-key, bell-tolled, acoustic-strummed, booming mezzoforte harpsichord progression that may just be the best main theme of *any* CBM since John Williams’ 1978 Superman. Indeed, it feels like Beethoven or Chopin themselves scored The Batman – an old-world throwback to pure instrumentation over flashy technological FX as refreshing as a midnight winter dip in the arctic-chilled waters of the Pacific Northwest. Bonus, in addition to juxtaposing it with lighter freeform jazz and even some beautiful, sweeping hope-infused orchestral swells, Giacchino finds the absolute zenith soundtrack crown jewel: Nirvana. The youth-energized chaos, rage, confusion, and melancholy of the band that defined the ’90’s and Generation Of X & MTV is as perfect a marriage made in heaven for Batman as the visual feast of its cinematography and worldbuilding, as well as its genres and themes.

Matthew A. Reeves

Cloverfield, P.O.T.A., Felicity, Let Me In: A Reeves Filmography Of Immersion, Loresmith, Diversity, Quality > Quantity

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

The most jaw-droppingly gorgeous and perfect capitalization from the ’90’s icon TV series is how noir/detective the film is: invoking Golden-Age Hollywood and ’30’s any cinephile will gush over. The German Expressionism-inspired genre’s hallmarks are more everpresently-weaved throughout The Batman than its riddler-questionmarks: the low-key lighting, heavy chiaroscuro, rain-soaked city streets, femme fatales, gangsters, hardboiled crime detective mystery, gothic romance, neon fluorescence, time-stamped journal entry narration, political corruption, private eyes, etc. Indeed, the project feels almost Bogartian – a walk down memory lane achieved foremost through visual and tonic cues that will leave any film junkie with a goofy ear-to-ear grin walking out of the theatre. Make no mistake, though: The Batman isn’t all gooey nostalgia and no fangs. Far from it. The Batman is bludgeoningly dark – in fact, it might be the darkest, longest, most mature CBM ever made. We see cold-blooded murder, terrorism, gang initiation rituals, sex, drugs, armed robbery, trafficking, political corruption, mob ties, serial killers, prostitutes, double-dealings, stranglings, bought cops, etc… all within the first 5-10 minutes. This might be the best and darkest super-noir since 1976 Taxi Driver – even more so than 2019’s Joker specifically made to emulate the classic for a real film nobody can doubt the authenticity of as a real work of art [& we’d do anything to watch alongside Scorsese for commentary on how this is the kryptonite to the justified ‘not real cinema’ comments he & Coppola rightfully called MCU movies].

???

The Darkest CBM Ever Made

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

That’s just aestheticization and worldbuilding; the mystery and story only amplify the darkness 10x so. The Batman breathes themes of vigilantism, justice, fear, hypocrisy, sin, power, and corruption. The institutions we trust to protect us do the opposite; the rich-and-powerful will gladly f*ck us over for another dollar of excess while spewing lies of maintenance they’re pure and holier than thou; criminals fester like rats in sewers in a city deprived of the fear The Dark Knight symbolizes. The film is almost a criminology experiment – fuel-injecting another layer of enjoyment by scientific and psychological fascination/punch, reverberated in echoes through its core mystery that puts the detective back in ‘Detective Comics’ and the bat’s mantle of ‘World’s Greatest [One]’. The best comparative analysis and reference we can ascertain would be Se7en: and it warms our hearts to see how brave the film crew was to be able/willing to go so hard-R and depravedly-mature [as well as (somehow) convince studio execs to make this and take such a risk on the world’s biggest comic book hero, for which we do give props to WB for taking some chances with Batman projects like this and Joker – now they just need to diversify with other heroes]. Reeves warned us The Batman was ‘almost a horror movie’ – that’s an understatement from even the very opening scene’s blunt-force trauma kill scene out of a slasher movie that will haunt your nightmares… thanks to its core villain & Tier-1 member of the Caped Crusader’s Rogues Gallery, finally given cinematic justice: The Riddler.

The Kryptonite To CBM Fatigue

A Wild, R, Batsh*t Crazy Pitch; A Story Of Twists, Antiformula, Shocks, 4-5+ Rogues

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

The batsh*t crazy idea to incorporate [&, against all odds: brilliantly-execute] having 4-5+ major rogues and antagonists in a single origin film sees a major point of differentiation for The Batman: finding as much solace in the villains of the hero as the man himself by Reeves & co. recognizing he has the best collection of any hero in comic books to cherrypick from. The 80+-year library of villains and stories highlights how Batman movies have the legs to be made until the end of time – and the ability to make a film as comprehensively-dark and evolved as this [able to go where no other character can, will, or should] showcases exactly why he is still the #1-2 greatest superhero. ‘What’s Black, Blue, & Dead All Over?’ this Riddler asks with complex puzzles of foreboding omens, lunaticism, Saw-like death contraptions, and aggressivity that both feels strikingly-authentic to the character comic-wise but is spray-painted black and showered with serial-killer ransom typography to three-dimensionalize and him 1,000x darker. The man who now owns The Riddler is Paul Dano. There Will Be Blood, Love & Mercy, Okja, Looper, Woodstock, 12 Years A Slave: Dano is the best actor you’ve never heard of – as invisible in the periphery of major films as his character feels here, ready to thunderously come into the spotlight. Dano packs so much power in his delivery and enunciation [lingering and caressing each syllable of words in of his frighteningly-sensible soliloquys calling out the hypocrisy of news/media in their bias towards the rich-and-famous who game the system to work for them and only them] he frequently has to deeply inhale for maximum execution.

‘What’s Black, Blue, & Dead All Over?’

70+ Years Later, Cinematic Justice For A Tier-1 Rogue; Horror, News, Complex Psychology, Mystery, Parallels, Vengeance, The Internet Age, & Epic Dano Performance

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Dano’s Riddler might be a Top 5-10 CBM Villain Of All-Time. From the opening scene, highlighted is how darkly and alarmingly similar and connected he and Bruce are; the opening scene alone tricks us into believing Batman is the one looking through the binoculars scoping out his next target before he… murders someone?! [the dark and glowing white eyes further deluding us as a pseudo-riddle to begin the film]. Both characters are orphans connected by the Wayne family name, wear all-black, are connected by riddles and their sizable IQ, and stalk at night with rage driving their actions – both even say the line ‘I’m Vengeance’ to highlight the major theme of the film: vengeance being a difficult beast to tame & wield, the fine line between villain and hero. The only difference between their two upbringings was money – a Squid Game-esque dark commentary on how the privilege of being rich-and-famous can be all that bounces a trajectory off-line and affords the ability to stay clean over the average people forced to live life in the grime and underworld. The Diner Scene is easily one of the greatest moments in the history of the CBM genre: clearly-evocative of the painting ‘Nighthawks’ by Edward Hopper in construction as Dano nonchalantly sips a question-marked mocha-latte having accomplished his goals of bringing down the city by exposing its corruption and how broken people are (exactly the same as The Joker’s plan in Nolan’s 2008 ‘The Dark Knight’). We only wish his presence had stopped there [as we’ll explain later], even though we recognize the humor in him spoofing/symbolizing Reddit | 4Chan | Twitch | YouTube stream-bros (with an epic bonus reference, perhaps, to The Synder Cult terrorizing WB [we agree ZS should come back since he was the only one with a bonafide DCEU Plan, but their neurosis is insane]) and the lunacy, groupthink, cultism, & meta-farcical guerdon of the internet.

Putting The ‘Detective’ Back In Batman

A Criminology Experiment W. Mjr Themes Of Fear, Justice, Systematized Corruption Applicable To Our Real World: Gotham City

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The cocky smirk he gives to Batman in the follows a beautifully-executed detective story of shocking twists, secret fathers, terror plots, hedge funds masquerading as charity foundations, mob-pocketed city councilmen, serial killings, etc. all under a surprise key figure absent in all of the marketing [*spoilers*] packing yet another one of the greatest performances we’ve EVER seen in a CBM project: Turturro’s Carmine Falcone. We – alongside many cult/arthouse film aficionados – have been Turturro stans in this household for years: Barton Funk, Fading Gigolo, The Ulysses Project, O Brother Where Art Thou, & his Emmy-winning performance in HBO’s The Night Of (2016). Humorously, he goes a complete 180 from typecasts and the last aforementioned series to prove his top-world pedigree as an actor by delivering a spine-chilling, sociopathic, empathy-deprived, sadistic, ruthless mob boss with ice in his veins, voracious hunger for bodybags, & effortless delivery of pure naturalism behind the red-tinted sunglasses. We also love how The Batman exposes the hypocrisy and corruption of charity – ~95% of charities and agencies operate in the dark away from the public eye and [we’d comprehensively bet by how still-broken the world is and how little-to-no progress seems to be made on *any* of the causes over decades and billions in donations] are nothing more than a feel-good/PR masquerade for rich ‘philanthropists’ hiding a channeling of funds back off-shore into the rich’s or its charity’s own people’s pockets, many examples even making it to real-world public news like United Way, Trump University, Wounded Warrior Foundation, Fyre Festival, Sugar Research Foundation, GoFundMe, Sir Maejor Page, Florida Govt. COVID Relief Funds, etc.

The Diner Scene

A New-Age Classic Of Fine Art In CBM’s, Even Referencing Such By Composition

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

The way Falcone rules the city from the shadows with an iron fist and orchestrates the ultimate criminal organization enterprise you’ve – by design – never heard of brings to light [in addition to heavy Godfather-parallels] another major inspiration of the film: Netflix’s Daredevil (2014). From that opening red-themed suit-reveal, this was a well-documented parallel we love, love, love DC for taking on as a challenge: reminding us who’s the original king and hero Marvel’s vigilante copied everything from, while executing its concepts and themes 50x better and darker on steroids. One of the major venn diagram overlaps is the villain: the shadowy mystery figure with the city in his pocket, even the best part of the mid-2010’s Netflix show in Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin being lifted and improved by Turturro here. God, what a performance – we’re bursting at the prospect J.T. will finally get the celebration by major audiences he deserves, and the way he classes up and brings new life and hope to the CBM genre is palpable. The repartée and relationship he has with Bruce Wayne [being the one who ruined his life and responsible for him becoming The Batman] is mythological screenwriting – lifted by the big-ticket performance we know you came to read a comprehensive analysis and definitive ranking on: Robert Pattinson.

From Vampire To Bat

The Best Live-Action Batman Performance Of All-Time; A 2010’s Indie King Oeuvre Of Rage, Emotion, Military, Fear, Vigilantism, Youth, Grounded Tangibility, & ‘Becoming’

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Film casuals know him as only the ‘twinkly vampire guy’ from Twilight and had a full-scale psychotic meltdown when the casting news first released, but real cinephiles rejoiced. Robert Pattinson has been an indie king for years now – from Claire Denìs’ ‘High Life’ to Robert Eggers’ ‘The Lighthouse’ to The Safdie Brothers’ ‘Good Time’. Likely repenting for his involvement in the franchise even he himself documentably hated, Pattinson [& his castmate Kristen Stewart: easily the Best Actress Performance Of 2021 in ‘Spencer’] channeled his determination into proving to the world he has serious acting chops – weaponizing that dark aura/mood and magnetism that made him so compelling, even in the godawful franchise of teenage girls screaming #TeamEdward or #TeamJacob. Batman is the zenith evolution and biggest possible stage to prove that on – even down to the headlines we’re sure will inevitably make the humorous connection that he went from vampire to bat, synergistically – and he could not have better-risen to the mantle. In fact, even in a landscape of Academy Award-winners across 40+ years of performances we thought had reached its peak with Affleck’s Dark Knight Returns BvS version, we crown Robert Pattinson’s The Best Live-Action Batman performance Of All-Time.

Year One

Referencing The 1987 Mazzuchelli & Frank Miller Graphic Novel, Taking Us Around Origin Clichés To A New Frontier Of CBM’s

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

The expressivity and raw, powerful emotion he’s able to conjure with the lightest of ocular contortions and physicality even when obscured in batsuit-armor is nothing short of a miracle of thespianship; you truly feel every ounce of his pain and anguish, oftentimes without even the need for words beyond just looking in his eyes. You just know the rage seething beneath his skin, and that makes him wildly unpredictable – a villain or hero, we’re not quite sure of until the end. The fact that Rob’s even in the conversation – let alone the frontrunner on the world’s biggest fictional character with a rich 80+ year publication history of 40+ movies employing 5 Academy Award winning actors – for best ever his first movie about sums up any levels of praise we could heap onto his emo, broken, arthouse/indie-infused chef d’oeuvre portrayal of Bruce Wayne. Characterizationally, Reeves, Tomlin, & co. take Batman on a hurricane reaping inspiration from two major sources: Year One & early-2010’s Arrow. The 1987 Mazzuchelli and Frank Miller comic ‘Year One’ is clearly the biggest overall source of inspiration for The Batman: one whose genius lied in being able to take readers back into the process of ‘becoming’. The graphic novel once again made the old hero accessible and tangible, and the film does the same by having the insight to skip the clichéd origin parts we’ve seen too many times. This Batman is still figuring things out, makes mistakes, confronts his own imperfections and flawed worldviews, doubts if his project is good or bad for the city [if he should even quit], and even gets his a*s kicked sometimes: far from the one who took down that entire gang of henchmen by the docks in Batman Begins or warehouse in Batman v Superman.

New Kid On The Block

A Young, Inexperienced, Nescient Batman Who Makes Mistakes, Grows, & Learns – A Beautifully-Imperfect 21st Century B. Wayne

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

Bruce is basically running a criminology experiment across the film’s events: psychological research on what the effects of fear on the criminal element are and if one man can make a difference in his city through brutal, nihilistic, cold-blooded justice and vigilantism. The brand here is lifted from another major inspiration for the film we’re ecstatic to see the world being reminded of how good it was early on: 2012’s ‘Arrow’. The DCTV series boasts a prestigious legacy in the history of television: being one of, if not THE, turning point that made film studios recognize the untapped resources and open frontier of TV as a medium just as able to deliver big-ticket blockbuster events and reap mega-profits for franchises as the cinematic counterparts [with far less risk and budgets]. The Arrowverse (now 10-20+ critically-acclaimed shows and an interconnected multiverse that brings billions of dollars per year annually and is so big, they do yearly Justice League crossover events.. for free on TV) is what began the exodus and bloom-evolution of the CBM genre on television – just like the Nolan Batman trilogy that creator Greg Berlanti cited as ‘the show’s biggest inspiration’ did for movies. The parallels are unmistakeable: the billionaire vigilante with no powers beyond tech and rage comprehensively broken as a person and of their faith in humanity learning of sins by his father and willing to do anything to get justice and put ‘the fear of God’ into criminals and the rich-and-powerful who ‘failed their city’ [direct quotes shared by both projects].

Rich Fraizerian Cinematography Palette

Delivering Two All-Time Blockbuster Visual Experiences Back-To-Back [Dune, TB], The Self-Said Most Complex Job Of G.F.’s Career

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People forget just how dark early Arrow was, too – Oliver Queen was a bloodthirsty lunatic vigilante who hunted and killed criminals with 10+ arrows to the chest without blinking an eyelash or more than a side-eye’s bow… not because it was necessary, just because he f*cking felt like it and wanted to. Green Arrow – as Prometheus got a confession on through psychological torture & analytic methodology in S5 – was a villain and not a hero at first: a merc. marksman down to the military paint he wore around his eyes every combat mission [& the Batman, again, directly lifts from Arrow S1]. Of course, by early Season 2, Oliver had recognized the errors of his ways and begun to repent for his sins through beautiful character-evolution into a hero, employing a similar no-kill rule he learned through tragedy and loss culminating in a heartbreaking hero’s death on Crisis On Infinite Earths. Batman follows a similar arc here: recognizing that vengeance unrestrained could very well turn him into the Riddler on a bad day and learning he ‘had to become something else’ (another direct quote taken from the opening credits that play before every Arrow episode. Need another one? The journal entry narration used as a plot mechanism for character-development also plays extremely like ‘The List’ Oliver carried in S1.) to become the beacon of hope and what the city needed for true justice. Brilliant. Now, while there are 50x more pros than cons, there are still major flaws in The Batman.

Nirvana x Chopin x Beethoven

The Giacchino Score Of Gloom-Drenched, Low-Octave, Minor-Key Gothic Orchestration & Atmosphere: Best Since ’70’s

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

The costume design is hideous for ~every character in the entire film. We conceptually love the idea of young, nescient versions of the iconic characters just beginning their heroicism careers [The idea? Probably lifted from the Gotham TV Series employing the same ‘before’ for its Batman characters] – but its execution leaves us with as many question marks as its viral marketing. Though the Bat symbol being pieces of the disassembled gun that killed his parents is wickedly-brilliant and infuses extra oomph into the power of the symbol hope-wise, and the top of the cowl has enough form-and-function to give Pattinson the necessary expressivity through his eyes to deliver an excellent performance, the Batsuit is bad overall – a major step down from Affleck’s and blatant hypocrisy from the CW-hate Reddit crowd. The chinstrap-less open jaw design [while highlighting Rob’s perfect jawline] is too jarring in what was exactly the same problem Grant Gustin had in The Flash S5’s suit – one that makes an otherwise-perfect cowl look bizarre and incomplete, not to mention weaker and impractical by its inability to protect him in a punch-to-face. The hockey pad torso section jarringly contradicts the top of the cowl color-wise and the armor is far too clunky and jagged in design/lines to be plausible [must weigh tons] or even look cool and natural like the textured skin-suit of Batfleck. It humorously also directly reverses the infamous since-memifyed roast line from ’08’s The Dark Knight to his imposters: ‘What’s the difference between you and me?’ ‘I’m not wearing hockey pads’.

Great Performances; Bad Costume Design

From Riddler’s Luchadore Masochism Cosplay To Catwoman’s Dollar-Store Ski-Mask To A Fatified Gabbagool Penguin,… Etc.

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

The fact Bruce is even wearing such low-tech makes absolutely no sense given that he’s a billionaire and a ‘growing pains’ phase thus isn’t realistic [on that matter, we don’t like the new Batmobile either: basically just a suped-up muscle car mod any 16 year-old kid fresh off his license could be driving in real life to dilute any semblance of big-money fantasy escapism on the most important aspect of the Bat’s arsenal, also failing to capitalize on modern technology]. Finally, if there’s one thing we comprehensively *HATE* the most about 2022’s Batsuit, it’s.. whatever’s going on in the forearm section. It literally looks like he’s carrying around gray pencils; maybe Batman’s going back to elementary school to take a pop quiz on geography or something. This aspect was clowned by the fandom when the first pictures leaked (that were also, shockingly, exactly accurate to how the batsuit looked), so we’re not sure why many people changed up on their opinion or just forgot and became comfortable with the worst-designed batsuit since Clooney’s nipples, but we haven’t. There’s interview evidence to suggest it’s just a temporary one if Reeves comes back [almost assuredly] for a sequel and trilogy, so we’d have given it a pass… if the design problems didn’t carry over to ~every other character. Dano’s Riddler being a serial killer with no flashy green suit adorned with question marks is a good idea on paper, but is extremely ugly in execution – looking like he’s ready for a sadomasochism sex-dungeon or luchadore convention instead of throwing down with the dark knight. We wish we could’ve just once seen a proper Riddler in full regalia costume on-screen in all ~40+ Batman films [even if it was just a costume switch in the second half of this film.. three hours was plenty of time and we don’t want villain reappearances later in the trilogy].

A Mixed Batsuit

Pencils, Jawline, Cowl, Ocular Expression, Jagged Armor, & Meaningful Gun Symbol

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

The other major faux-pas[es] are not just bad in costumes; they’re also mixed-to-bad castings. Colin Farrell – though the artisans do their best with A+ Oscar-meriting make-up witchcraft – is just and wrong as Penguin. Sure, his cartoonishism makes him a dosage of comic relief and the performance isn’t.. bad, but the schtick/gag fizzles out quickly. Why not capitalize on the iconic ~dwarfism or stature of the character.. or be remotely comic/flavor accurate with the stout Englishman instead of a fatified, sh*tpostable Falcone-doppelgänger mobman out of a high-school play version of The Godfather? Heck, you even have a master of CGI-wizardry and the art of curmudgeonry who would’ve made a perfect Penguin right there in the very cast of The Batman: Andy Serkis [epic fan art: below]. Sigh. Catwoman is mixed – bad costume design, questionable dialogue, good performance, and great characterization in what overall works, but could’ve been way better. Everyone here knows how we feel about racebending: even as People Of Color [POC] ourselves, we hate and recognize it as the laziest form of studio diversity & a card WB plays way too much to faux diversity instead of greenlighting *actual* POC solo films & TV series like Cyborg, Static Shock, Jon Stewart Green Lantern, Blue Beetle, etc. Tragedy is that minorities like us are given scraps/leftovers of white characters to ‘make do with’ instead of getting our own fresh, new, original ones – even when it’s been proven to be mega-profitable and the world is ready for them, as is easily discernible if you check the box-office receipts of Black Panther & Shang-Chi. Sometimes, racebends work if the actor/ress is perfect for the role [Candace Patton as Iris in The Flash, Javicia Leslie as Batwoman, etc.] and it does add some diversity to a cast that would’ve otherwise been all white if lifted directly from its source material: something The Batman especially would’ve been washed out from – so we support the principle here; they just picked the wrong actress. Zoë Kravitz, from her nepotistic status as the daddy’s girl of legendary rocker Lenny Kravitz x actress Lisa Bonet to problematic history taking advantage of lightskin colorism in the film industry to ~pedophaelic past question marks (Google Search her name with Jaden Smith, whom she documentably claimed was ‘her date’ and ‘the love of her life’ when he was only 14 years old and she was 24. Yikes.), was not the best casting choice for Catwoman; Eiza Gonzàlez or Ana De Armas are.

The Penguin

A Miscast, Laughable, & Not Remotely Comic-Accurate Penguin Even Overlooking Better Options Within The Very Cast

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

This herculean oversight brings to light a major problem of modern Hollywood studio politics: for a landscape so performative in activism proclaiming their ‘love and commitment to diversity and POC’,… almost every minority except Black gets completely forgotten/ignored time and time again. Why did both of the racebends [Gordon, whom is a perfect example of racebending not being an issue when the actor is perfect for the role like Jeffrey Wright is, & Selina Kyle] have to both be the same when the demographics of America and worldwide have hundreds of other cultures? Why not expand the inclusivity to, for example, the hispanosphere when it’s a 2x larger demographic in America & either aforementioned choice of De Armas or Gonzalez would’ve checked that ~nonexistent diversity box in blockbusters [while also being both better actresses than Kravitz who’ve earned their roles without daddy calling the studio heads, meritocratically]? We’re not even putting ourselves as South Asians & Asians into the discussion of inclusion – even though we’re the largest culture and demographic in the world, we’ve long since given up the fantasy/delusion Hollywood studios care about us on-screen. We’re happy that the black community has secured major inclusion in ~every major film and franchise of relevance today; now, it’s time to expand and balance it out for the rest of minorities. Regardless, the costume given to Catwoman in the film sucks – looking like a dollar-store halloween costume down to the sloppily-cut ski mask.. apparently.. for the world’s pre-eminent master jewel-thief who can’t afford to buy a better mask? Also, she’s fundamentally flawed as a character here – given questionable dialogue by the writers like the immature ‘dickbag’ line that clashes out of resonance with the dark and mature tone (did ‘you smell good’ Whedon come back to write one more cringey/goofy line?) and infamous ‘white privilege’ line we endorse/agree with theoretically, but question why is necessary to force in for political checkpoints in an escapist comic book film [& we’re not even white].

Catwoman

Performative Activism, Racebending, & *Selective* Diversity/Representation

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

This Catwoman also complains about being sexualized (in a nightclub while wearing a low-cut dress, nonetheless..) instead of using it to her advantage: literally the crux of the character and why she makes such an effective antihero/villain, as well as a fundamental misunderstanding of femme fatales in film noir on subatomic levels. They do make one good advancement to the Cat’s on-screen mythos: the promise of LGBTQ+ representation by hinting at her bisexuality [we cheered!]. However, even that they manage to somehow fumble by maddeningly refusing to commit to it and come out – Selina praisably calls Annika ‘baby’ in some scenes insinuating a romance, but reverses/copouts by referring to her as ‘just a friend’ in others. Sigh. Regardless of these problems with The Batman, though, the biggest one – by far – is the final act. There’s a turning point right around when the feds catch Riddler in the diner that would’ve been the perfect place to end the film with major catharsis right around the [still long but serviceable] 2 hour 15-20 min mark. We literally packed up our popcorn, thinking that had to be the end by its naturalism and epic high note. Then, however, the film kept going on.. and on.. and on,… and, tragically, got progressively weaker and welcome-overstaying. The final act of the project feels almost corporate-mandated & studio-made – and contradicts everything that made the first two acts so damn revolutionary and indie-refreshing. The last 1/3 of The Batman plays into the CBM & blockbuster clichés it previously subverted and said ‘f*** you, we’re not here for your approval/categorization’ towards. The epic-scale CGI disaster flood angle makes absolutely no sense in the context of the personal, no-FX-needed cinema that precedes it, and sours an otherwise badass scary Riddler into a meek-and-plebeian Reddit/4Chan conspiracy bro whimpering in a jail cell (though that Keoghan Joker tease was insane, and definitely deserved to be at least a post-credits scene) to make us laugh at whom we were deathly terrified by until that diner scene concluded. Riddler had already accomplished his entire goal of opening the city’s eyes to the corruption festering beneath the seams and ours to the ugly side of humanity; why need to show him anymore?

The Final Act

A Mixed, ~Clichéd, Hour-Overlong, Superfluous Extra Course After The Full-Course Meal; Diminishing Returns, Even Despite A Genius Scene: Hope & Sunrise

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Pictures

They could’ve found a way to trim some of the fat in the middle act, have Riddler do a shortened version of the explanation, and still keep the last heroicism scene that’s very important characterizationally in a 5-10 min swan-song epilogue. The finale sunrise scene is symbolically one for Bruce as well: the rise of him from the shadows to the light; a fringe-law vigilante to hero and hope symbol – paralleled in the red flare of Batman going from lurking in the shadows to being the light that physically guides the people of Gotham from the flood and the genius mini-arc of Bruce seeing himself in the orphan who lost his father at the beginning of the film and watching over & saving him across the film for emotional catharsis and existential full-circle. The frightening sense Riddler made originally (though his methodology for exacting his methodology is obviously extreme, motivations not being logically-wrong: the hallmark of a great villain) also gets flooded out the door with the Gotham River: it being hard to even delude yourself into siding with a madman terrorist who distrusts and wants to kill every politician without even giving them a chance to make a change. The real puzzle is figuring out why The Batman feels the need to try to stuff a near-trilogy’s worth of film into one movie – when it’s the biggest superhero in the world and will make billions regardless [if the turd of 2016’s Suicide Squad can do well fin