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The Batman


JCM
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sad this doesnt have a topic yet but i'm gonna make it so if you want my take on the movie click the spoiler

it's in spoiler tags not because it's super spoily but because it's super long

gn

Spoiler

The last movie I watched in theaters, as well as the last one I reviewed, was Spider-Man: Far From Home, which was easily the darkest take on Spider-Man I’ve seen despite it having the usual MCU/Spidey goofiness throughout. Since the 80s, gritty, humorless takes on Batman have been the norm, with Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman and Robin and the animated Batman: The Brave and the Bold being notable exceptions to the rule. My first major Batman memory came shortly after watching the third Sam Raimi Spiderman movie. I went to see The Dark Knight opening weekend with my mother’s side of the family, and I knew so little about Batman at the time that I didn’t even know it was a Batman movie until he showed up on the big screen and growled “I don’t wear hockey pads”. It was one of the best theater experiences of my life, and TDK remains one of my favorite movies, Pulp Fiction being the only one I can definitely say is better.

2008 wasn’t just the year I was introduced to the Nolanverse for the first time but the year I started seriously reading Batman comics. My 8th grade science teacher was obsessed with Batman and had pretty much all of his graphic novels, which he was happy to let me borrow. The first Batman comic I read was the aptly named Batman: Year One. The dark, almost noir aspects of the comic book was a refreshing change from the silly Spider-Man comics I was used to, and it didn’t take long for Batman to surpass Spider-Man as my favorite superhero. In many ways, it reflected a change to my mindset. 2008 wasn’t just the first year I started reading Batman comics but the first year I seriously read the news, and with a world mired in recession, war, and rising commodity prices (sound familiar?), it was hard for me to be as optimistic as I needed to be to be engaged in the Spider-Man mythos. Batman was a lot more believable to me. He didn’t have superpowers, he was just as effective with his mind as he was with his might, and his stories were often grounded enough that, like in the Nolan Batman movies and this newest Batman movie, you could avoid the sci-fi and fantasy tropes that are pretty much unavoidable when doing new stories about Spider-Man, Superman, or Wonder Woman.

Now here’s where I talk about the newest Batman film, which I saw in a half-empty theater Wednesday afternoon: it wasn’t bad. It couldn’t touch The Dark Knight, and while I don’t remember much about Batman Begins at this point, I wouldn’t say The Batman is better than it, either. It’s probably better than The Dark Knight Rises, but that isn’t saying much. Visually, I haven’t seen a Batman movie more stunning than this one. While it didn’t have nearly as much memorable dialogue as TDK had, it had more moments that stick with you, moments that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie. It’s definitely not a film that follows the Disney playbook most MCU movies follow. As dark as FFH was compared to other Spider-Man movies, not even it could hold a candle to The Batman, which was so dark the candle would be extinguished as soon as it got anywhere near the lengthy, grisly, death-filled Warner Brothers product.

Anybody who has read as many Batman comics as I have won’t be surprised by much of what happens in The Batman. While it doesn’t follow the Disney playbook, it does follow a playbook, and while I’m sure casual filmgoers won’t mind, it was still hard for me not to feel disappointed as somebody who has loved Batman for half my life. Seeing well-known storylines play out on the big screen is cool. I liked The Dark Knight Returns too much not to like the way The Dark Knight Rises and (the extended edition of) Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice adapted elements of what is arguably the most famous Batman story ever written. Even reading The Long Halloween and The Killing Joke didn’t diminish my enjoyment of TDK and in fact made me appreciate it more for how it seamlessly integrated material from those comics into the Nolanverse.

The Batman’s devotion to focusing more on Batman as a detective than previous Batman movies makes it unique, yes, but it also makes it harder to stay engaged when you can predict a lot of what happens. I wish I had seen this as a 12 year who knew next to nothing about Batman, because I’m sure I would have loved it a lot more if I did. Unfortunately, I can only give my opinion as a 26 year old Batman superfan, and my opinion is that it doesn’t stack up compared to the previous live-action and animated incarnations of the Caped Crusader. I would still say it’s a 3/5 or even 4/5 movie, but it misses on an opportunity to be so much more.

 

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