The Batman 2022
It hasn’t been easy trying to resume a normal schedule here. With a ten month old daughter at home and two podcasts that I’m actually keeping on schedule (for the most part) it’s been a lot harder to find time to watch a 3 hour movie. But several months after it coming to HBO Max I managed to watch it over the course of two evenings. I had already heard a lot of mixed-but-mostly-positive things about this film so I was ready to enjoy it. And for the most part, it was quite enjoyable. I’m not fully on board with the emo teenager vibe to Bruce Wayne when he has to be in his late twenties minimum if not mid thirties like Robert Pattinson who is playing him. The rest of the cast is fantastic, the decision to make this more like a detective story rather than an origin or straight up action film is a good one. There’s really a lot to love in this film and while there are plenty of nits to pick, they don’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the film.
The film in itself is a bit of an oddity. It’s not quite an origin story like Batman Begins as this Batman is relatively well entrenched in his role. But this isn’t the hard and grizzled Batman either as he’s only been doing this for two years and is still shaping and molding what the Batman actually is. This allows for several good ideas and concepts to be used. He’s fully geared up and is nearly at peak fighting condition. He’s not a perfect fighter, but he’s still head and shoulders above most of the people he’s fighting. His tech is adequately high tech, like the contact lens camera, but his Batmobile is more of a souped up hot rod rather than the Batmobile we’ve come to know and love. The outfit itself is pretty hard to mess up, though the bulletproof nature of the body armor was a little bit over-utilized. The only good moments were towards the end when he was getting hit with the higher caliber rounds that clearly caused some damage despite his high tech armor.
There are elements of serial killer methodology that is fascinating to watch unfold. It can be difficult to find the right balance of riddles that are either solved quickly by the audience but frustratingly slowly by the characters, or ones solved inhumanly quickly by the characters which would fall into Batman ’66 style parody. This hits the balance well for the most part except for when it took way too long for someone to suggest that Rata Alata could refer to a bat. It was also a bold choice to have the Riddler be a couple steps ahead of Batman all the way through the end. It also helped to include Alfred with the cyphers. There is the questionable choice for the Riddler to have been so hands-off with the bomb intended for Bruce Wayne without giving confirmation to the audience that the Riddler knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman and Alfred was always the intended target. The meeting at Arkham was frustratingly ambiguous, whether Riddler spouting “Bruce Wayne” to call out the fact that he knows Batman’s identity and is toying with him by playing ignorant. Or whether he truly is ignorant and just overly socially awkward when he’s not following a full script for one of his videos.
The social commentary is on point with the Riddler’s end game mirroring plenty of right wing extremist gun nuts who band together behind this internet celebrity. It’s also interesting how the film holds the mirror up showing how similar the Riddler and the Batman really are. It’s similar to how Batman and Joker are often mentioned as being mirrors of each other and they feed off of each other. Riddler sees himself as a vigilante similar to the Batman, going around the law to expose the corruption of Gotham City. Only he does this through murder and mayhem. The Batman does this by beating up mobsters. But through this interaction, he does realize that his role isn’t just about creating fear in the criminal presence of Gotham, instead he also needs to become a symbol for hope to the ordinary citizens. This is the real lesson and growth shown through the course of this film even though surprisingly Batman basically doesn’t save the day. He saves the Mayor-elect, but only after she gets shot. Meanwhile the entire city gets flooded and likely dozens of people died in the initial floodwaters. It has echoes of the Dark Knight Rises in that way only this film ends with Gotham City being a flooded haven for criminals.
The relationship between Batman and Catwoman is also done fairly well here. She’s someone with her own agenda, her own morals, and her own secrets. Some of which are revealed throughout the movie. They clearly have something in common, and the ski mask is simple, but effective. It’s also nice to hear the brief nod to Bludhaven at the end. Similarly the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Alfred works well here. We get to see Alfred participate in his detective work without having to be in the thick of things, and there’s a touching moment to show the real strength of their relationship and the years they’ve spent together with Alfred being his father figure. There’s also just enough allusion to the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents without ever having to show the audience the exact scene for the twentieth time. The fact that they mayor has left a young son at a similar age as Bruce was when his parents died works well for that reminder. And even better that the film never hammers the audience over the head with that connection. This film does have some flaws here and there, but for the most part it’s an enjoyable ride from start to finish. The Riddler is an interesting choice for the lead villain and he’s very much updated for the 21st century while still keeping the feel of the original character. The action scenes are fantastic and the characters are all represented very well. I couldn’t ask for a much better iteration of a live action Batman and I’d be happy to see another film set in this world. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.