Ten years have passed since Christopher Nolan ended his epic Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises, and although the Bat has made appearances with his crew The Justice League and a hideous Batman and Superman movie, the moment that we’ve been waiting for is finally here with a new movie titled The Batman. This timing almost makes me wonder if there is a branch of government that holds the film industry accountable to make these films. “Another Batman movie is the only way to distract the public from what’s really going on. Do it right or you will be penalized with fines and possible jail time.” Whatever the case may be, I’m thankful for the opportunity to discover a new take on a great superhero story.
The Batman feels more like a string of comics than any of the other adaptations that I’ve seen. It doesn’t regurgitate an origin story and even though it’s just short of 3 hours long it wastes no time getting to the point. Detective Comics might have been a more appropriate title for this comic-centric thriller but I don’t work in the DC marketing department, I just have a lot of ideas. There are familiar characters and villains sprinkled throughout this picture and while none of them feel overemphasized, they all serve their own purposes in the story. We are left with a clear understanding that each character has their own specific agenda. There is a real richness in reading comic books and although there were a couple of years of my life where I would go to the comic store every Wednesday and pick up a stack of the latest issues including several Batman titles, I still wonder if I have the qualifications to review a Batman. My conclusion is: YES. Film is its own medium, and the beauty of these movies is that they bring the stories to a wider audience. I don’t have to read all of the gossip columns and know about Taylor Swift’s personal life to understand her music. I just enjoy listening to it and I can tell you why but that’s a story I’ll leave for the music writers to tell you about.
A new Batman movie with The Riddler as the main villain and a Bruce Wayne that looks like Nightwing or The Crow sounds like a recipe for disaster if I’ve ever heard of one. The Batman pulls this off with all the stops to make a unique chapter that can’t be touched. Following a series of opening scenes, the Nirvana song, “Something In The Way” sets the tone for a Gotham City that is feeling the struggle as it’s overrun with crime. Bruce Wayne’s character in this flick was inspired by the fictional version of Kurt Cobain in the 2005 drama, Last Days. I keep going back to the song as I’m feeling it in a way that I haven’t felt since I discovered it as a teenager. The Riddler is reminiscent of Jigsaw from the Saw movies as he sends out terrifying videos to the police with a twisted sense of personal conviction. Rather than the iconic costume we are used to, this Riddler wears a mask that looks like it was made out of green duct tape. Paul Dano’s Riddler was in essence, a horrifying B-movie villain which gave the film a dark thriller vibe that sets it apart from anything that’s been done with Batman before.
One of the greatest achievements of The Batman is that it further proves that a movie based in a comic universe can be whatever you want it to be. Not only did The Batman push forward a new direction for this character, but it did so while remaining true to the comics. The costumes were gritty, the characters were polarizing, the action wasn’t over-the-top and still, it was Warner Bros’ highest-grossing pandemic-era film domestically in just three days. I hope the DC universe continues to take chances like this with its movies. With Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman and Robert Pattinson looking like Robert Smith, this is the most rock-n-roll Batman to date.
About Nathan Conrad:
He’s best known as the Nashville-based Hip Hop/Indie Pop emcee Spoken Nerd, but this isn’t your typical rap project. He rhymes playfully at times, singing and/or rapping, juxtaposing his style with real-life situations and subject matter. Occasionally Spoken Nerd will find inspiration in films and will put it into song. With eight full-length albums into his career, the rapper has built a healthy catalog of music, which doesn’t include the number of EPs and singles released.