5 Ways It Honors Batman Movie Traditions (And 5 Ways It Departs From Them)


Warning: this article contains spoilers for The Batman.

One of the most delayed blockbusters of the pandemic, The Batman, has finally hit theaters. And, thankfully, it was worth the wait. Matt Reeves’ reboot reinvigorated the franchise with a thrilling detective story, a handful of stunning action sequences, and a fresh, nuanced take on the titular masked crime-fighter.

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Some critics of the film have complained that Reeves doesn’t reinvent the wheel enough and gets too close to Nolan and Snyder’s established aesthetic. But The Batman strikes a fine balance between evoking franchise lore and subverting audience expectations of Batman’s big-screen adventures.

2 Honor the traditions

Dark and grainy tone

Batman looks up in the rain

With his classic 1989 Batman film, Tim Burton reimagined the stories of the Caped Crusader with a dark tone, a dark, expressionistic visual style, and an occasional twist on the horror genre. While his immediate successor, Joel Schumacher, returned to the camp tone of the ’60s Adam West series, Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder stuck to the Frank Miller-inspired Burton tradition of a dark, edgy Batman.

Reeves maintains this tradition in The Batman, one of the darkest, edgiest, and downright scary Batman movies to date. Paul Dano’s Riddler is practically a slasher villain. Britain’s BBFC ratings board, previously bombarded with letters of complaint after giving The black Knight a 12A rating, prohibited anyone under the age of 15 from viewing The Batman.

“The Voice of Batman” by Bruce Wayne

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Since readers cannot hear the comics, the “Batman voice” is an invention of the adaptations, not the source material. The trope was created by Michael Keaton, who thought it was unrealistic that such a public figure could remain anonymous unless he altered his voice.

The “Batman voice” has since been emulated by all subsequent Batman actors, including The Batmanit’s Robert Pattinson. The voice is a big part of any Batman performance, and Pattinson nails it. His Batman voice is gruff and growling, but not overdone.

Multiple villains

Paul Dano as The Riddler in The Batman

From the Joker and Two-Face to Mr. Freeze, Bane and Poison Ivy, there are far too many iconic villains in Bat’s rogues gallery for the filmmakers who tailor his stories to include just one per movie. . 1966 batman: the movie features just about every major Batman villain. Since the original Burton blockbusters, every Batman movie has featured at least two villains in significant roles.

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Reeves adheres to this tradition in The Batmanfeaturing the Riddler as a real-world serial killer and the Penguin as a mid-level gangster trying to climb the ladder of power.

Brutal fight scenes

The Final Batman Movie Trailer The Batman Fight

Fans always look forward to fight scenes in Batman movies. Like Charles Bronson in hard times, he’s an undefeated badass whose fighting style is defined by brute force. In recent years, the Arkham Snyder’s ultra-violent video games and DC films have taken bat-screen hand-to-hand combat to all-new levels of brutality.

Reeves maintains that trajectory with some of Batman’s most brutal fight scenes to date. Pattinson’s inexperienced young Batman is constantly beaten, but he gives as well as he can.

No connection to a larger universe

Batman's silhouette as he approaches Penguin in his totaled car

Thanks to the runaway success of Marvel, most Hollywood blockbusters these days are made with countless sequels and spinoffs in mind. Every studio hopes its next big tentpole will be a stepping stone to a new cinematic universe, but traditionally Batman movies have stood on their own.

Snyder introduced the Bat to the larger universe in his DCEU movies with mixed results. For the majority, The Batman is a stand-alone story. It sets up its own interconnected universe – including two sequels and two spin-off streaming shows – but its plot has no connection to the wider DCEU.

1 walk away from them

No origin story

Bat signal in The Batman

Luckily, Reeves skips the Bat origin story and saves the audience from having to see Martha Wayne’s pearls hit the ground again. Batman’s origins have already been portrayed in a bunch of previous movies – including Jokerwhich isn’t even technically a Batman movie – and batman begins covered it in more than enough depth to make all subsequent Batman origin movies feel redundant.

In The BatmanReeves borrows the Spider-Man: Homecoming strategy. Since everyone knows the origins of the character, he jumps straight into heroism. Both Back home and The Batman using their lack of a traditional origin story to instead explore their characters’ early superhero careers through their development as established heroes, not their journey to becoming a hero.

A young and inexperienced Batman

Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne in The Batman

With a kind of “second year” scenario, The Batman covers the middle ground that most origin movies skip. Pattinson’s Batman is already a lean, mean fighting machine who’s donned the cowl and become a Gotham legend – but he’s still in the early days of his crime-fighting double life.

Since he’s still learning the ropes of masked vigilantism, he trusts untrustworthy people a little too much and takes as many hits as he gives in the fight sequences.

Hard detective plot

The Batman Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne in Morgue

Along with “The Dark Knight” and “The Caped Crusader”, one of Batman’s many nicknames is “World’s Greatest Detective”. But since detective work isn’t as visually stimulating as fight scenes and car chases, most Batman movies put his detective skills on the back burner.

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In The Batman, Reeves finally explores battling skills as a detective through the lens of a hard-hitting criminal conspiracy. The Riddler’s trail of puzzles and numbers provided the perfect foundation for a macabre neo-noir mystery story.

Catwoman is a direct ally

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Catwoman is usually characterized on the big screen as a femme fatale switching allegiance between Batman and the villain, or as a villain in her own right. But the version of Selina Kyle interpreted by Zoë Kravitz in The Batman is more of a direct ally in the Bat’s latest investigation.

Similar to Jane Fonda’s Oscar-winning turn opposite Donald Sutherland’s detective in the neo-noir classic Klute, The BatmanSelina falls in love during the investigation.

Much more Batman than Bruce

In the Batman stories, it’s crucial to explore the dichotomy between Bruce Wayne’s two identities. But, ultimately, fans come to Batman movies to see Batman kick ass, not to see Bruce Wayne’s brood.

While Batman movies tend to have a 50/50 split of Bruce scenes and Batman scenes, in The Batman, Bruce spends a lot more time in the cowl than in the facade of a reclusive billionaire. The movie may be three hours long, but it’s a solid Bat-centric three hours.

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