Matt Reeves’ The Batman 2022 Film Review and Analysis

Matt Reeves’ The Batman premiered in theaters on March 4, 2022. The newest DC Comics movie stars Robert Pattinson as Batman / Vengeance / Bruce Wayne, Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman / Selina Kyle, and Jeffrey Wright as Jim Gordon. Additional appearances include Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, and Paul Dano as Riddler / Edward Nashton.

We made a few connections and conjectures from the film with our Batman Trailer: First Impressions from DC FanDome blog. The Batman confirmed some of our theories while blowing many others — as well as our expectations — out of the water flooding Gotham City. (Too soon?) Join us below as we recap and review The Batman — plus, we are delving into all the implications of that final scene which takes place in Arkham Asylum.

*This article contains more spoilers than the Batmobile! Proceed with caution.

Homicide on Halloween

The events of The Batman begin on October 31. Thus Riddler’s first crime occurs on Halloween, with the timing a clear homage to Batman: The Long Halloween. In fact, The Long Halloween is one of the primary DC Comics to influence Matt Reeves’ new movie. The noir detective story features a rather inexperienced Batman as well as a pre-Commissioner Jim Gordon, just like the film.

It also leans into the sinister, spooky feel of the holiday as well as the fun blurred lines between super hero suits and Halloween costumes. In fact, GCPD Commissioner Pete Savage mocks Batman by proclaiming that it must be the Caped Crusader’s favorite day of the year.

Early Batman

Speaking of influential comics — both Year One and Zero Year had massive impacts on The Batman. While the movie doesn’t rehash Batman’s origin story per these comics and many other cinematic adaptations, Batman’s characterization is unmistakably similar. He’s young. He doesn’t care about protecting his image as Bruce Wayne, and has instead fully embraced his “nocturnal animal” side. Such a dark decision has left him emotionally closed off, completely devoted to vengeance, and suffering in silence.

How does this impact the movie? It’s great, actually. Bruce Wayne isn’t suave or sophisticated. He’s gritty, exhausted, and hyper focused on crimefighting so that he doesn’t have to confront his trauma. His few interactions with Alfred are stilted and tense unless Alfred is helping with a Batman project. But Bruce doesn’t want Alfred’s advice or parental instincts. “You’re not my father,” he snaps at his doting British butler. It’s difficult to watch Bruce act this way toward his closest family member, but it makes sense.

Gordon and the GCPD

The Gotham City Police Department doesn’t trust the Batman. At all. Only Jim Gordon seems to be on the Dark Knight’s side, but their friendliness doesn’t negate the fact that the rest of the force hates him. It’s not entirely clear why. One officer demeans Batman’s role as a vigilante. Another thinks he’s just a freak. Still, Gordon is allowed to keep his Bat-Signal on a faraway rooftop.

Of course, The Riddler uses GCPD’s trust issues to his advantage. Because he wants the Batman on his side, he pulls the Batman into his schemes, playing into Batman’s cleverness when he solves his clues. The villain even addresses all his “secret admirer” cards to the Batman. GCPD’s breaking point thus comes about halfway through the film. Batman dives off the building in a clunky yet functional flight suit that comes from puffing up his cape — one of two times we see the cape used practically, though also with consequences. The second time is when Riddler’s goons drag Batman around using that fabric, which is satisfying for the viewer even if it’s a pain for Batman.

The Bat and The Cat

The first Batman and Catwoman interaction is sublime. Selina breaks into a house to steal back her friend’s passport, and Batman makes incorrect assumptions about her role in the Mayor’s death. Their fight is a dance, full of tension and intimacy in which they slip briskly into. The Bat and the Cat are immediately drawn to each other despite their differences.

And hey, here’s some trivia. Penguin’s “club within a club” where all Gotham’s not-so-upstanding citizens hang out is called Club 44. Selina and the Batman’s first mission together involves infiltrating this place. DC Comics Batman #44 (2018), written by Tom King with art by Mikel Janin and Joëlle Jones, “follows Batman and Catwoman on two separate but parallel paths” as they plan their wedding. Coincidence? Maybe. But it’s fun to find significance in the number.

One major question remains. Would Selina still like Batman if she found out who he is underneath the mask? She playfully wonders about his identity and he doesn’t give any hints. Selina, meanwhile, scorns him for clearly having grown up rich yet still invites him to take down the privileged and corrupt alongside her. While Batman doesn’t really identify with his billionaire playboy alter ego, this stark contrast between him and Selina is added to a long list of their opposing qualities.

In the end, of course, they separate. How could they not? Bruce and Selina will always have their “will they or won’t they” thing going on. And that’s honestly more entertaining. Though it’s nice to see the couple together onscreen, their kisses as well as the breakneck speed of their relationship often feel out of place in the film. Hopefully, with more time spent in this universe, we will see proper growth.

Unidentified Arkham Prisoner

The Riddler’s inevitable loss leaves him distressed and inconsolable. Well … until he makes a friend. In Arkham Hospital, two prisoners sit in their cells and speak through the small slits in their doors. “Riddle me this,” a newcomer asks, stealing the Riddler’s comic book phrase. This stranger comforts The Riddler before assuring him that “Gotham loves a comeback story.”

Through the low light we catch a glimpse of extreme scarification and clown white skin. When accompanied by boisterous, bouncy giggles, it doesn’t take the World’s Greatest Detective to guess that this could be our next DCEU iteration of The Joker. Nothing is confirmed, however, besides that Barry Keoghan plays The Batman’s laughing lunatic.

Other Notes

There’s a lot of DC Comics references to catch in The Batman. We rounded up some of the most important Easter eggs in our The Batman Easter eggs blog. Still, here’s a few more, plus other details worth pointing out from the film.

  • Batman breaks up a gang crime. The gang members’ makeup is subdued yet nonetheless reminiscent of The Jokerz in the Batman Beyond animated series.
  • The Riddler sings “Ave Maria.” Translated from both German and Latin, the song appeals to the Virgin Mary from Christianity. Nashton may have selected this song based on his own experiences as an orphan longing for a mother’s care.
  • Bruce calling himself “Vengeance” comes from Batman: Earth One.
  • The Twins from Oz’s Iceberg Lounge are like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum from Alice in Wonderland. Batman’s first foray into the club, especially with all the flashing blue and white lights, feels like falling down the rabbit hole.
  • Unlike any other Batsuit before this, the Batman’s costume integrates a batarang directly into the chest. Instead of using the space for a flat symbol, Batman presumably uses magnets to remove and replace his classic tool for ease of access.
  • The framing and setting of Riddler’s arrest resembles the 1942 oil painting Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.
  • The Batman takes place over a single week.

What did you think of DC Comics’ The Batman? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!