The Batman is DC’s newest experiment, but how does it hold up?

When Warner Brothers debuted yet another installment to the “Batman” franchise March 4, fans were curious to see how the feature would stack up against the ever-changing world of superhero cinema and if it could hold its own among the best of the best. 

The long development of the movie began in 2013, when DC Films inked superstar actor Ben Affleck to star and co-write in the movie. He would eventually drop out of production, leaving director Matt Reeves to work the story himself. In production of the movie, Reeves aimed to unlock the detective side of Batman more than the crime-fighter we have become accustomed to seeing on-screen. The original release date for the film was June 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the film back to 2022. When the film was finally available in early March, theaters flooded with eager watchers, and many left the cinema with various opinions. 

While the project had its flaws, there was no denying that the movie was well-directed, and lead actors Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz brought a new and exciting twist to the series as the new Batman and Catwoman. Many fans were impressed by the new style of the movie, while others found the detective style to be a step down from the original action films and felt the three-hour film was a bit dragged out. 

When I stepped into the theater March 10, I wasn’t sure what to expect about the new DC film. With a massive budget and years of production time, a high-quality picture was certain, but would it live up to the hype?

When I left the theater three hours later, I had a few early takeaways. The storyline was fantastic. I am a sucker for a good mystery, and the new style that Reeves and the creator team had been aiming for resonated very well with me. After a character is used for over eight decades, it is very challenging to create new storylines and add a unique feel to the movie, and I think the producers provided a change that was good enough to make an impact without changing the iconic character completely. As reviewer Katie Walsh of “Tribune News Service” put it, “the genre-play is a welcome refresher, while the detective work is an evolution from merely banging up the clownish, petty criminals of Gotham.” Reeves aimed to give the movie a twist and definitely succeeded. 

Despite the main goal of the direction team succeeding, many issues lied within the small details of the film. To start, the character of Bruce Wayne seemed peculiar from start to finish. While Wayne has always been a reserved, somewhat unhappy character, Wayne’s character stepped into a new realm of sadness in this film. Alongside Wayne’s attitude and character, actor Robert Pattinson’s appearance as a dark haired man with pale skin mixed with his wardrobe of almost all black clothing made Batman seem like more of a goth crime-fighter than those in the past. As reviewer Bilge Ebiri of Vulture wrote, “…Pattinson is a tall, handsome, strapping fellow, but he plays Bruce Wayne with such broken, mournful despair that his body is practically concave when it’s not in a batsuit.” While Pattinson’s character threw me off a bit, the argument that this new attitude and appearance gave him even more uniqueness could certainly be made. 

In addition to the controversial changes to this new Batman character, many fans were underwhelmed by the dialogue between Wayne and his co-stars, specifically Wayne and his fellow vigilante and love interest, Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. While the partnership between Batman and Catwoman has been an iconic one in the DC Universe, it seemed like the directors let the reputation of the couple carry them throughout the movie instead of their actual on-screen actions. There seems to be little to no positive relationship between the couple in the movie alone, yet the relationship happens nonetheless. “Their forbidden romance feels more required than earned or authentically lusty,” reviewer Kristy Puchko of “Mashable” wrote. While both Pattinson and Kravitz are incredible actors, their roles don’t fit that of a typical Batman movie. 

The third and final critique that I have of the film is a very popular one in the movie world currently: the PG-13 rating held back the film. Reeves and the directing team could have included much more detail and necessary scenes had the movie been rated R, but it seems that those scenes were cut in order to make the movie more marketable to younger audiences. “It’s time Batman got a proper R-rated movie,” Puchko wrote. ”Without the freedom an R-rating allows, this movie — full of menace and murder — feels toothless.” Reviewer Eli Glasner of “CBS News” also weighed in on the rating, writing ”‘The Batman’ is handcuffed by its family-friendly PG rating, the result being something like a ‘Saw’ movie made for Disney+.” Had the film been rated R, countless possibilities could have been opened for the production team. 

While the film is full of talent both in front of the camera and behind it, the poor connections between the character and the limitation of a PG-13 rating hold it back. The movie is decent, but in my opinion, it doesn’t stack up against competitors, specifically from rival studio Marvel and their recent success with PG-13 superhero films and series such as “Eternals” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” In my eyes, this film is just above mediocre, scoring a 6/10 on the carefully calculated “Harris Scale.”