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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

CineHawk: “The Batman”

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GRAPHIC: CASEY WOOD ’23/THE HAWK

Directed by Matt Reeves from a script he co-wrote with Peter Craig, “The Batman” is an epic and harrowing character study set early on in The Dark Knight’s career. The film stars Robert Pattinson, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell and Zoë Kravitz. It is currently playing exclusively in theaters.

Set in an alternate reality to both the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and Todd Phillips’s “Joker,” “The Batman” follows Bruce Wayne, played by Pattinson, at the end of his second year as Gotham City’s Caped Crusader. Haunted by the murder of his parents twenty years prior, Bruce uses the guise of The Batman to vent his trauma and rage on the criminal element. As he fights to expose the corruption at the very roots of his city, Batman must face off against The Riddler, played by Dano, a serial killer who shares the same targets as his new nemesis.

A significant portion of Pattinson’s screen time is spent investigating The Riddler’s killing spree alongside Lieutenant James Gordon, played by Wright, and his butler Alfred Pennyworth, played by Serkis. Reeves wisely uses the “year two” setting to showcase a developing Batman rather than the uber-competent superhero of other incarnations. Bruce’s skills in deduction are still quite nascent, but he shows clear potential to improve and his blindpsots allow the supporting cast to make meaningful contributions to the story’s central mystery.

While the film’s runtime is two hours and 53 minutes, the suspenseful plot, stellar performances from the cast and skillfully choreographed action scenes keeps viewers captivated for its entirety. 

The movie boasts an all-star line-up without a weak link in sight. Gone is the suave playboy Bruce Wayne that was portrayed by Ben Affleck and Christian Bale, as Pattinon’s Bruce is a depressingly realistic portrayal of a survivor of traumatic violence. Gaunt and unkempt, the distinction between his two identities is practically non-existent, emphasizing how utterly broken Bruce still is decades after his childhood tragedy. 

Among the supporting cast, special credit should be given to Farrell, whose larger than life performance of The Penguin has earned him an HBO Max spin-off, and Wright as a more morally gray Jim Gordon, even if the script leaves him somewhat undercooked. 

For a character that has existed in virtually every medium over the course of 83 years, this latest take on “The Batman” accomplishes the herculean task of preserving the essence of the character while still allowing its creative talent to express a unique vision. Similar to 2019’s “Joker,” Reeves draws on the heritage of film noir and 70s crime thrillers in not only the visual language of the setting but also a greater emphasis on Batman’s detective skills, leaving viewers with a fresh take on the superhero.

Like “The Dark Knight” before it, “The Batman” is a monumental cinematic experience that has set a new benchmark for comic book films and is well worth the visit to the theater. 

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