Full disclosure, I don’t normally write about movies releasing on streaming services, but The Batman, which releases today on Crave, is an exception for two reasons. First, it is quite unusual to see the highest grossing movie of the year thus far released for streaming only a little over six weeks after its theatrical debut (though it does ever so slightly reek of Warner Bros.’s ongoing, not-so-subtle push to promote their streaming service HBO Max). Second, it is one of the best movies released in 2022 and despite its immense commercial success, there are those still avoiding theatres due to a pandemic that has all but gone away, so I believe it is important to inform those who have yet to see it but may not be aware of its quick transition to streaming.
If I can bring this to the attention of even just one person who has yet to see The Batman but avoided theatres out of caution, then I have done my job. The Batman is an absolute must-see not just for comic book fans, but also those who enjoy psychological thrillers, as director Matt Reeves deftly weaves its superhero narrative into a thrilling tale that at times feels like you’re watching a PG-13 version of David Fincher’s Se7en.
That being said, before I dish any more effusive praise to get you riled up for your first, second, or third viewing and beyond (that’s a lot of man-hours for a three-hour-long movie), the only criticism I can level at The Batman is the resolution of its core mystery, which Paul Dano’s Riddler is trying to expose in an interesting dynamic with the Batman himself, feels somewhat underwhelming. I will of course avoid spoiling it for those who have yet to see The Batman, but to me it is the weakest element in what is an otherwise transcendent experience in superhero moviemaking.
The Batman is a revelation not just in what it manages to achieve, but also in what it avoids. Comparisons with Nolan’s trilogy was always inevitable (sorry Batfleck), but the fact that The Dark Knight has become the go-to instalment for most is a testament to the film’s place in the pantheon of Batman’s cinematic adaptations, and despite both films exploring Gotham city’s organised crime, The Batman never feels derivative. It leans into Batman’s moniker as “The World’s Greatest Detective” to a degree that, surprisingly, had never been seen before in film, resulting in a more methodical approach to the character’s fight against crime.
However, make no mistake, this is also a Batman who knows how to pack a punch while addressing my greatest criticism of the entire Nolan trilogy: the fight choreography. The single most important aspect for a well-choreographed fight scene, I have always maintained, is the way in which it is cut. Consider Keanu Reeves’ John Wick franchise versus Liam Neeson’s Taken trilogy. The former cuts from one shot with as much economy as possible, leading to one intense, visceral action sequence after another, while the latter compensates for weaker choreography and an already aged star that has far less experience and ability in depicting action on screen. Just look at this mess from Taken 3. A similar comparison can be made between The Batman and Nolan’s trilogy, where Reeves employs longer takes to keep us in the action as much as possible, while the editing of Nolan’s film features choreography that, frankly, has not aged well, likely compensating a great deal for Christian Bale’s less mobile costume.
There are many arguments to be made as to which is the better movie, but one thing that cannot be argued is that Matt Reeves’ The Batman begs – neigh, demands – to be rewatched, as he and Robert Pattinson deliver on this new, utterly compelling depiction of the Caped Crusader, and by the time this is posted, you can bet I have already done so myself.