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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Let’s be honest: ‘The Batman’ is not as perfect as people say it is

A film as necessary as cotton candy to a healthy diet

 

By MALCOLM LANGE —- mslange@ucdavis.edu

 

Apart from being potentially the weakest Batman with the lamest car chase, Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” is a great movie. It was written intelligently, performed excellently and, overall, an exciting movie to watch. This is not a very “hot take,” as many people have been raving about the film since its release in 2022. The “hot take” I would like to introduce is that it was unnecessary to the Batman universe and overhyped. 

It gets a lot of praise, and for the most part, it should. It was a very well-directed film; it was cinematic and thrust you into the city of Gotham. However, the Batman story that was displayed was very familiar. It is hard to find completely new stories and themes for a character as old as Batman. There have been so many versions of Batman that it would be impressive if they came up with a new and exciting take on the vigilante. 

Yes, I am aware that they did certain things differently in this adaptation of Batman than in past ones. The main one that people like to point out is the darkness and grittiness of Gotham —- it is probably the darkest Gotham seen in live-action. However, a relatively dark and grimm version of Gotham City is already seen in the TV show “Gotham.” In that version of Gotham, we see more of the gangs and power struggles in Gotham and how awful the city really is. The only thing it is missing is it isn’t as grotesque as the movie makes it out to be. However, I believe that to be only because TV and movie ratings allow different amounts of violence. So, there is already a Gotham that showcases the mob bosses, gangs, corruption and politics that “The Batman” has. There is nothing new or unique to attribute only to this version. 

The most interesting part of this movie was the antagonist, Riddler. The Riddler was a great character, not only because he challenged Batman’s belief in himself but also because he was more effective than Batman in fighting corruption. The Riddler was murdering the corrupt leaders of Gotham in an attempt to make it a better place, a very similar motive to Batman. In the movie’s final act, the Riddler even admits he believed they were on the same side, that they were helping each other, and that it was Batman who inspired him to do everything that he did. Batman is faced with an unintentional consequence of his own existence. In contrast, looking at “The Dark Knight,” the Joker’s origins are unknown. Still, it can be assumed that his obsession with Batman motivates him for most of the movie.

The final aspect of the story that receives high praise is that it doesn’t feel like a full superhero movie but is more of a detective film. This is true to a certain degree. Yes, Batman has a lot more “detective” work cut out for him in this movie, but besides the little riddles that the Riddler leaves for him, there is not much else that Batman figures out on his own. The Riddler has to hold his hand through each step of the puzzle so that Batman can finally see the kind of corruption that has a hold of Gotham. While the Riddler is spelling everything out for Batman, we see a couple of clever solves from Batman with the cipher puzzles or recognizing certain people’s broken noses and how to pull up a carpet. Apart from those specific successes, Batman relies on the Riddler to give him all the answers, which the Riddler is inclined to do as he believes they are on the same team.

Neither Batman nor the police had any background or what feels like standard detective work. The strange gimp mask worn by the Riddler cannot be a commonly bought item, and probably not purchased by the Riddler until he decided to commit those crimes, meaning a relatively simple store and purchase history search should have helped find the Riddler’s identity, which would make it easier to find him. It also would have helped because then, when 50 or so other men are buying the same model from potentially the same store, that should probably raise some red flags and alert the police or Batman that the Riddler is growing a fan base, which is very dangerous. 

Batman also should have tried to trace back the photos of the mayor coming out of the club owned by the Penguin. The Riddler had these photos on a thumb drive, taken across the street from the club’s entrance, and it turns out that is where the Riddler was living. The apartment across the street from the club. If Batman tried to go to where the pictures were taken and find out who stayed there to figure out who took the picture, he might be able to find out to whom the pictures were given. At least that could have been Batman’s thought process; in actuality, it would have led him straight to the Riddler because he took the pictures. This is all to say that Batman did not do fantastic detective work throughout the film. When the Riddler was not giving him the answer, he only solved a couple of riddles. 

“The Batman” is not as perfect of a Batman film as many people claim. We already had a dark Gotham, with villains who challenged Batman’s faith in himself and, to top it all off, he was not even that good of a detective. Again, I did enjoy the movie; it was executed incredibly. It is also a very unnecessary Batman movie. We have seen so many different Bruce Wayne variations in the past decade alone that we should focus on a new hero, like getting a good Robin or Knightwing movie. Even though “The Batman” is a good film, it would have been more interesting to see a movie about a new character instead of rebooting the same vigilante repeatedly. 

 

Written by: Malcolm Lange — mslange@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.

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