Finally, An Accurate Representation of Batman!


The Batman, directed by Micheal Giacchino starring Robert Pattison and Zöe Kravitz, is a masterful cinematic experience that fulfilled my every need for a Batman movie. It’s a brilliant murder mystery set in a modern-day Gotham featuring a cast of vigilantes, police, politicians, crime lords, and madmen. Everything, from the costumes, soundtrack, camera angles, and lighting works together to form a story about creating change in a corrupt and broken city. But more than that, The Batman perfectly captures the two-sided nature of Gotham and hopeful essence of Batman in a way that had once been lost.


Disclaimer: There are spoilers in this article, so read at your own risk. 


The Batman was great because the characters are fully fleshed out. They are flawed, have arcs, make witty quips, and contribute to the overarching plot and themes. The characters make the city of Gotham feel populated and real while allowing Gotham to be its grimy, corrupt, and crime-riddled self. But, that doesn’t mean they were 100 percent true to their comic counterparts. A good movie adaptation can take a  pre-existing character and elevate them by building upon their basic character traits and flaws and explaining their  motivations and aspirations. This movie does this – it takes the basic personality of these characters and builds upon their flaws, motivations, and even modernizes them.  The movie’s updated characters are relatable for new viewers, yet are still recognizable and bring nostalgia for long-time Batman fans. 


The fresh characterization can be seen in The Riddler, the movie’s antagonist, someone who is typically not considered a major threat in the DC Universe. While he is a well-known Batman villain, he lacks the maniac energy of people like Harley Quinn and the Joker or the terrifying and utterly commanding presence of people like Ra’s Al Ghul or Black Mask. But the beauty of this movie is that it takes this concept of the Riddler and manages to make him this  horrifyingly disturbing character while still being that off-putting nutjob with a superiority complex. He turns into a real internet hermit; the kind of guy you would find obsessing over serial killers, fantasizing about taking over the government, and tracking your IP address. His mind becomes clouded and deranged because of the corruption of the Gotham elite and Gotham City Police Department as he started to believe the only way to bring about change was to purge those groups and Gotham altogether. And how does he do that? By creating puzzles and riddles for Batman to solve. The Batman elevates his character by letting the Riddler have goals and motivations, and be genuinely terrifying. He stays true to his more zany comic book roots through his riddles and trademark superiority complex and extremist attitude.  


The most impressive part of the movie was the way in which it characterized Batman. It perfectly emulated who he was that even some comic continuities get wrong: Batman is about being a beacon of hope in a dark and unforgiving world by doing what is right. He is a shepherd guiding sheep, Gotham’s Guardian Angel, the Dark Knight. Based on the way he dresses, talks, and his intimidating nature, people believe Batman is this grimdark hero that takes things to extremes. Though Batman has contingency plans, is paranoid, and is not the most friendly, he will never be a dark force that deliberately hurts the people and the city he loves. He will always save the cat in the tree. Batman’s arc is about realizing he is not the “vengeance” he claimed he was.  He changes from the man in shadows to the beacon of hope by realizing his faults and role in the community. 

In his first appearance, Batman emerges from the shadows to fight a gang that was terrorizing an unsuspecting man. The victim flees from Batman, along with one of the gang members who was reluctant to be involved in the first place. It is quickly established that people view Batman as a scary lunatic. After all, he runs around in a high-tech bat costume in the dead of night scaring off gangsters and criminals with his only real friend being police commissioner Jim Gordon. But, underneath all of that, he still tries to help. When the Riddler crashes the funeral of Don Mitchell Junior, Batman, as Bruce Wayne, throws himself over Mitchell’s son to shield him against the car. Later, after the funeral crashing,  when a policeman was being held hostage by a bomb around his neck, even though Batman believed the policeman to be a bad person, he still tried to help disarm the bomb.  In one of the most important scenes of the film, Batman sacrifices his belief of vengeance for Gotham. When Gotham and the audience are led to believe all is well again, it is revealed the Riddler has one last riddle but, by the time Batman solves it, it is too late and the dam is blown open, letting in rushing water towards the city of Gotham. The city begins to flood and the citizens of Gotham begin to panic as they are trapped under infrastructure and rushing water.  Batman, in an effort to save his people, holds up a glowing red light and begins to rescue the trapped Gothamites. At first, they are resistant to Batman’s help, but the panic stops as Batman frees more people from under the rubble.The camera angle changes as we see Batman and his bright red light against the black waters as he guides hordes of Gothamites to safety. He commanded that situation better than the mayor or police could. He was able to save Gotham because he is that light that Gotham needs. Giacchino allowed Batman to be that light again; to be Gotham’s Dark Knight. 


  The movie draws a parallel between the Riddler aka, Edward Nygma, and the Batman aka, Bruce Wayne. Both of these men know that Gotham is not a perfect city, but they have different ways of interpreting this. To Nygma, Gotham is the way it is because politicians and police weaponize their privilege and take advantage of the less fortunate. To Wayne, Gotham is the way it is because criminals and gangs make the city violent and unsafe for its citizens. Their views are so black and white, as they both believe that they are right. Batman also believes the victims of the Riddler deserved it because of  their behavior and actions, not because they were the elite or GCPD. 

At this point, Batman still sees things in black and white and believes people are either good or bad. Selina Kyle, otherwise known as Catwoman, helps Batman understand that his viewpoint is based on privilege. She teaches Batman that good people often get mixed up in criminal affairs because they had no choice and needed the money. He could not fully understand the world views of people like the reluctant gang member, Selina, or even Edward Nygma because he didn’t grow up in the same city as them. He saw the crime and poverty but not their causes.  This contrast between Edward Nygma and Bruce Wayne show the two conflicting viewpoints within the city of Gotham.  


Another wonderful aspect of  The Batman movie is the way it portrays Gotham. Gotham is a dirty and desperate crime-ridden city with a large population of wealthy elites, willingly ignorant and often borderline malicious, that do not care about the impoverished or the crime.  Gotham is split into two parts, the amazing beauty of the upper class and the trash and grime of the working and impoverished. We see Bruce Wayne’s  incredible gothic mansion, Don Mitchell Junior’s spacious and picturesque apartment, and the fun and hip Iceberg Lounge. Batman’s equipment and suit also emulate his wealth. He has high-tech identification contacts, a beast of a car, and wings attached to his bullet-resistant suit. In contrast, the streets of Gotham are littered with trash, Selina’s apartment is a cramped mess, and it is always dark. Selina’s suit is a leather catsuit and cloth mask, and the Riddler’s is a glorified DIY. They don’t compare to Batman at all. He lives in luxury because Gotham corruption benefits him while the Riddler and Catwoman have to suffer due to it. This movie really takes the two parts of the city to their logical conclusions and creates stunning and plot-relevant visuals with it. 

The Batman is a refreshing return to basics for Gotham City and Gotham’s Dark Knight. It has great characters that are true to themselves while still being updated to fit the modern setting. It shows how the city failed everyone and the duality of Gotham and its people.