Arts & Media

The Batman: A Mystery Well Worth 176 Minutes of Your Day

Anne Friedman ’25
Staff Writer

Editor’s note: contains spoilers for The Batman

Everyone loves a good superhero movie, and The Batman didn’t disappoint.

Before watching the movie, I didn’t know what to expect. I was curious how they would portray Batman/Bruce Wayne and put their unique mark on a classic superhero story that I’m well acquainted with: I enjoyed Christopher Nolan’s trilogy and watched one and a half seasons of Gotham. I was familiar with Robert Pattinson’s classic work in Twilight. I had also seen the trailers and heard a bit about it from friends, who espoused mostly high praise.

Many people had warned me that The Batman was long. When my dad mentioned its length the day before I went to see it with my brother, I was reminded of Avengers: Endgame, which I had enjoyed but found myself in a lull halfway through the movie.

However, The Batman somehow engaged and entertained me for its entire 176-minute runtime. The closest thing you could call a lull in the movie would be the long pannings and shots of the scenery. They were slower moments in the movie, but they still maintained tension and demanded attention, contrasting the intense violence and gore with moments in between for the audience to catch their breath. The amber lighting in the dark alleys of many of the shots set the scene of a twisted city full of uncovered secrets.

One secret that monopolizes the film is Wayne’s secret identity. We rarely see Bruce Wayne as Bruce Wayne; for most of the movie, he’s parading around as Batman. Wayne does go to a funeral to gather information and interact with Alfred, but in most of the interactions, he’s motivated by saving Gotham, which he does as Batman.

This choice gave The Batman a dark, more cynical look at life — Wayne shirks his responsibilities as a businessman and public figure because he’s so caught up in his vengeance-seeking persona. It exemplified Wayne’s grim outlook on his identity, as he felt that there was nothing he could do for Gotham besides be a vigilante.

Another secret that is still a mystery to me is the movie’s romance plot — if you can call it that — between Batman and Catwoman. In the couple of moments when Catwoman went up to Batman and kissed him, I was thrown off by her actions. It felt out of character.

Catwoman had been portrayed as an extremely independent, self-reliant character. Why would she kiss someone? That implies attachment, but it didn’t feel like she trusted or was attached to him.

Batman also seemed mystified, or at least completely uninterested. There was no chemistry or reason for her to kiss him besides furthering the sexualization of the character. The only alternate reason could be that Catwoman was trying to manipulate and persuade Batman.

The villains also intrigued me — there were so many that all had different intentions. The main villain, Riddler, was inspired by Batman to rid Gotham of corruption, and the mobsters, Falcone, Penguin, and Maroni (though he’s only mentioned), were motivated by power and money. And finally, there were the corrupt government officials.

The motivations of the corrupt officials have no backstory or insight and seem to be just as much of a secret to the screenwriters as they are to me. They were most likely corrupted by the desire for money. However, we don’t know what else might have been influencing them to make that decision. Did they need that money to survive? How did they even feel about what they were doing? We don’t know if they agreed with their actions or felt bad for those they were screwing over. The lack of establishing the officials as true villains or as villains by circumstance complicates the matter of evilness and whether we should, or are allowed to, feel for them.

Finally, the ending felt unbefitting to the rest of the movie. It felt too good to be true. Gotham was hit hard by the Riddler’s final plan. While Gotham isn’t shown to be completely healed from the attack at the end, I didn’t enjoy how the movie ended with the city seeming as in good shape as it did. The movie didn’t feel complete. It felt like they just needed to end the plotline and tie everything up, and that was their best idea.

Even with the various unresolved mysteries of the film, I enjoyed The Batman. The next time you encounter a rainy day and have an afternoon to spare, the only “Something in the Way” of this great movie is your attention span.

Image Source: CNET

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