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‘The Batman’ (2022) Review: Was Wokeness The Bat’s Greatest Sin?

Sometimes it’s better to let sleeping bats lie.

The Batman (2022) is the latest flick to feature the caped crusader after 2017’s Justice League saw Ben Affleck last play The Bat on the big screen.

With a new lead, Catwoman and a coterie of villains to string out a 3-hour Batman movie, was the movie good?

The Batman is not a bad movie, but it’s not as exciting as you’d hope.

Audiences that outright hate this movie will likely point out the occasional cringe from the underlying politics that’ll jump off the screen like IMAX.

The main issue is that those moments detract from the titular character, Batman he/himself, which the film doesn’t bother to make you root for. 

Batman, played by Robert Pattinson, was written as a brooding detective that embodied the darker tone of “The Long Halloween” comic. Which is great.

The problem with this new iteration of Batman is the sparse heroism or respect for the character that writer/director Matt Reeves injects into this movie.

I’ve never been a Words of Affirmation type, but watching Gotham bully Pattinson’s Batman made me want to reach out to him and remind him that he’s doing a great job.

The movie operates well with being a detective’s story first as it throws Batman and Commissioner Gordon (played by Jeffrey Wright) on a Seven-like thriller to take down the big bad villain: the Riddler.

The Dark Knight’s crusade to end “white privilege” — voiced by this movie’s Selena Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman — showcased little gray area when gauging which characters to trust or point the finger at … in a detective’s story.

And yes, the movie’s portrayal of the good and bad people is fairly … black and white.

While the whodunnit angle works at times, the 176 minutes this movie carries compared to a leaner 127 minutes from Seven allows the slow moments to halt any momentum stirred by an action scene or Riddler-themed set piece.

I yawned twice.

Messy pacing didn’t do the runtime any favors, and it showed most in the rushed ending.

Batman is arguably the most-liked DC superhero: toe-to-toe with Superman and his jingoism-branded crime-fighting.

The movie’s introduction to the symbol of fear that Batman poses over the criminals of Gotham was a badass way to start the film, and The Riddler carries a number of genuinely creepy scenes. 

Another surprise working against this movie is how simple it came off when it clearly found itself to be more complex.

Normally with these superhero movies, I’ll turn off my brain and grin when the overly excited audiences tell me it’s time to laugh and clap.

In this movie, there were a number of The Riddler’s ploys that were easier to figure out than the day’s Wordle puzzle, and I might’ve heard more people break into applause at my Sunday morning service than this highly-anticipated movie. 

There’s a reason that Bruce Wayne has yet to be mentioned, and it’s due to the very limited screentime that the billionaire Gothamite receives.

Christian Bale and Van Kilmer portrayed good Bruce Waynes; Keaton and Affleck had great Bruce Waynes. 

To critique Robert Pattinson’s Bruce would be a disservice to the actor since his speaking lines were probably shorter than this article. But Bruce was an element of appeal among the predecessors, and the gamble to go full-Batman with this movie didn’t quite work.

The lack of appearance by Wayne, within a plot that leans heavily on his family’s backstory, ultimately took some wind from beneath this bat’s wings.

The action works well (when properly lit), the score is pleasant to hear as it boasts the perfect amount of WOMMP in a theater room and the actors all fit into their roles about as well as they could. 

None overshadowed Colin Ferrell as The Penguin, whose over-the-top, Sopranos-type characterization was always a treat. The eventual Director’s Cut of The Batman ought to feature Penguin saying gabagool.

It’s not a bad movie, and not even overly woke. The Batman simply struggles with keeping audiences hooked for the full three hours.

6.5/10

Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela

Written by Alejandro Avila

Alejandro Avila lives in Southern California and previously covered news for the LA Football Network. Guided by Kevin Harlan on one shoulder, Eli Manning on the other, Alejandro joins the OutKick community with an authentic passion for sports, pop culture, America, and episodes of Jeopardy!

 

Twitter: @AlejandroAveela

5 Comments

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  1. Absolutely agree with your observation of a lack of screen time for Bruce Wayne considering the Wayne family arc in the film. Aside from that, I thought it was fantastic and wouldn’t change a thing. Casting was great, cinematography was outstanding and I didn’t mind 3 hours at all. In fact, I actually prefer 2.5 hours+ on films…you can actually tell a story that way.

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