Ok so Batman is a character that I’ve always been fascinated with.
I’ve collected hundreds of graphic novels for the character, platinumed all of the Arkham Games several times and poured over every film and tv show starring the Dark Knight that I could find ever since I was a kid.
What I’ve always loved about the character is that he’s someone who can be moulded to fit almost any message that you want to put across but at the heart of him there still remains the fundamental belief that Justice must be upheld.
Whether it’s the campness of the 1966 version, the darker more gothic Tim Burton takes, Lego Batman, The Animated Series, The Dark Knight Returns or the grounded Nolan films, every iteration of him feels valid.
Now I’m kind of ashamed to admit it but when Robert Pattinson was first announced as playing the character I shook my head and thought like many that we’d be getting a twilight-Esque take aimed at teens. At the time DC had massively changed Zack Snyder’s vision into becoming the abomination that was Josstice league and I wrongly assumed that they’d taken Ben Affleck out of the role to make things more like the MCU.
However, every single trailer, every single TV Spot has made me realise that I couldn’t have been more wrong and the upcoming Batman film in my eyes has the potential to be one of the best comic book movies ever made.
In every interview that Matt Reeves gives it just seems like he gets it and when looking online at comic books the other day, I came across the collection of graphic novels that is releasing alongside the film.
This includes Batman Year One, The Long Halloween and also Ego.
The Batman Comic Book Inspiration
The first of those tells the story of James Gordon transferring to Gotham whilst Bruce Wayne arrives home after his years of training abroad. Together the pair learn to put their differences to the side and come to the end of it they form an alliance that will help to take down corruption in the city.
The Long Halloween is one of my favourite graphic novels of all time and this murder mystery focuses on Batman stopping a mysterious killer called Holiday from carrying out attacks on the mob.
The book very much inspired The Dark Knight and this Year Two story feels like the closest thing we’ll ever get to the Godfather being adapted into a superhero story.
Lastly is Ego, something that I was surprised to see in the line-up but after thinking about it it makes a lot of sense.
The Darwyn Cook story follows Batman failing to stop one of the Joker’s henchmen from ending his own life instead of facing up to his boss for failing.
Racked with guilt, he returns home to the cave and Bruce and the Batman psyche split down the middle and they both go back and forth over what it means to be Batman and what the future should hold. Bruce very much has to battle it out with his toughest enemy yet, his own Ego and through this self-exploration, he learns what it means to be Batman.
It’s a story that has always fascinated me and when looking at all the trailers and teasers, I think one thing becomes clear, this is a Batman story.
Now before you start calling me Captain Obvious, what I mean by that is that it’s very apparent that Batman is the true face whereas Bruce is the mask.
Every time we see him in his civilian clothes, Bruce barely talks, interacts or even seems interested in what’s going on.
During the funeral scene that was posted online, he barely says a word and is clearly only attending the event because he wants to learn information that will help out Batman. This is something that we’ve seen explored in other films like Batman Begins, but Bruce was always put forward as the more dominant personality and even the playboy one had a footing in there too.
However here the Bruce Wayne side just seems like an afterthought and it very much reminds me of books like Batman Zero Year.
In that, Bruce returned to Gotham and he immediately started patrolling the night, locking himself away in the cave through the day. He had no interest in being Bruce Wayne and it was only after the first arc that Alfred made him even consider bringing that side of his life into the light.
That’s very much the feeling that I get from the Matt Reeves movie and the title The Batman seems so fitting because that’s all that Bruce appears to care about. Here is a mentally damaged man, filled with trauma who will do whatever he can to make sure no one has to experience what he went through.
He is completely obsessed with being Batman and I think the film will very much explore the cost that infatuation has on someone’s life.
Riddle Me This
Now on the other side of this is The Riddler, the opposite of Batman.
Whereas Bruce is trying to keep everything in order, The Riddler is someone who will strike the match to burn down everything just so that he can rebuild from the ashes. In the film, he will be attempting to take down the high ranking members of society because he was clearly affected by them at some point in his life.
It very much feels like something that was ripped right out of The Man Who Laughs which featured the Joker. He killed several high ranking citizens in Gotham and even targeted Bruce Wayne which we know from the trailers is something that The Riddler will also be doing.
All of these pieces come together to show that Matt Reeves is pulling some amazing elements from the comics and it demonstrates that he truly understands the source material.
What he’s done though is to create something that doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s completely based on any specific element and everything from the Batsuit, to the Batmobile, feels unique and innovative.
One comic I haven’t mentioned so far is Batman Year 100 which I also think you should definitely pick up if you haven’t. A future Batman fully immerses himself in the role and even puts fake vampire teeth in his mouth just so that he can get into the minds of criminals.
There definitely is a darkness to the character and what Reeves has done is that he’s translated this to every single frame in his film. Cinematography is something that is often said to be lacking in comic book movies and a lot of the time this is purely down to the process in which these movies are made.
Filmed heavily on green screens or even completely computer-generated, it’s difficult for directors to capture a true look and vision for their films.
However, Reeves’ movie was for the most part shot on location either in Glasgow or on sets and the reason that we have so many behind the scenes looks on the film already is that it was possible for the public to go down and see what was being shot.
This adds authenticity to the movie and allows the director to see what he’s filming as he films it.
He isn’t sending this off to VFX artists with a description of what should go in the background, he’s capturing it himself and because of this, the movie looks completely different from anything that’s come before.
I’m struggling to think of a comic book movie that looks as good as The Batman does and it’s definitely got its own style that you can instantly see from any image or trailer. If you placed a still frame of it down with another movie from the genre and asked someone to point out which one was The Batman I think that they’d instantly be able to tell because of Reeves ability to craft a unique style.
The Real Deal
This extends to his costume and one thing that always bugged me about the MCU was the reliance on CGI ones. Tom Holland often complains in interviews how his spider-man suit doesn’t have a place where he can pee but when you look at the films, his costume is often CGI’d for the final edit.
This is extremely noticeable now in movies like Civil War and after seeing how good Garfield’s one looked in The Amazing Spider-man it makes you wonder why Marvel has started going this route.
The Batsuit though looks real because it is.
This feels handcrafted and the cowl that is stitched together feels reminiscent of the one from Gotham by Gaslight.
The armour feels like it was ripped right out of an Arkham game and all of it has a practicality to it that’s difficult not to appreciate.
Even with half the budget of what most comic book movies get, Reeves has elevated things to a level where this looks better than most other comic book movies and he’s really shown why creatives should always be put above corporations.
In a time where a lot of comic book movies feel by the numbers, he’s taken his own vision and style to a level that will make this movie stand out from the pack.
Batman is a character that has been done to death at this point but somehow Reeves and many others constantly find new ways to re-invent him and bring him back as someone who can still be modern whilst standing for his traditional values.
The action looks incredible too and just in the same way Zack Snyder completely nailed the Warehouse scene in BVS, the fight in the smoke against the Riddlers goons at the end feels like the perfect way to showcase Batman on film. This is someone who has mastered several martial arts and gadgets and watching him dispatch people with ease will never not be satisfying.
The Worlds Greatest Detective
There’s also the detective element to this film as well and some moments of it feel like they were ripped right out of Silence Of The Lambs. We know from the TV Spots that Bruce will also be using special contact lenses to record crime scenes and Reeves has said that he’s really pushing this film so that we finally see Batman as the renowned world’s greatest detective.
It’s something that we haven’t had before and when going against a cerebral villain like The Riddler, Batman will need to be operating at that level too.
Now beyond this we also have the world-building in the movie and Reeves has managed to bring in characters like Catwoman, The Penguin, Carmine Falcone and other mainstays of the universe in a way that makes it flesh out Gotham.
This is a city so corrupt that the lines are often blurred between the criminals and the upstanding citizens and we see in Zoe Kravtiz’ Catwoman how people have to walk the line in order to survive.
It’s something I’m fascinated with within film and often the villains are the ones that we relate to the most because we realise just how easy it is to slip into Darkness. That’s what seems to be the best aspect of The Batman and I can’t wait to see if he too wrestles with doing the right thing when he uncovers just how corrupt the city is.
From the trailers, it looks like even The Waynes will be pulled into it and exposed for what they’ve done to amass their fortune and I think the film is gonna put several moral quandaries in place for Batman to try and navigate.
Overall it seems like it’s gonna be incredible and I hope that you enjoyed us discussing why we’re so excited about it.
Obviously, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film below and if you’re hyped for it or not.