The Batman: A Film Both Needed and Deserved


Joshua Shaw, Staff Writer

At its best, journalism is an attempt at objectivity.  

It asks those who participate to shove preconceived notions aside to let an unbiased perspective take hold. This is true in sports journalism, music journalism, film journalism, entertainment journalism, you get the point. And if you’ve bothered to click on this article, you’re beginning to wonder two things.  

1. Josh, you cover the University of New Hampshire (UNH) men’s hockey team and avoid non-sports articles like the plague. What is happening? 

2. Why is this review of The Batman starting like it’s a master thesis on the purpose of journalism?  

To answer your questions, let me say this, I adore, treasure, deify and cherish the character of Batman. 

I remember being five years old, wearing a Batman mask and chest plate pretending the top of the slide was a skyscraper and our backyard was Gotham City.  

I remember being more engrossed by Scott Snyder’s Court of Owls, Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns than any book my high school ever handed me.  

When my brother died, I thought about Batman. As my relatives filtered in and out of the house, “You’re more than the worst day of your life,” reverberated in my skull to incite some level of peace. Because at his core, Batman is not a story about brooding over rooftops or beating criminals mercilessly.  

Batman, at his core, is about a little boy that experiences the worst pain imaginable and fights to shield others from that very feeling. He is trying to save everyone because no one saved him. 

So if you’re looking for an honest, unbiased review that will convince you, Aunt Bertha or your cousin Trudy to see this movie, look elsewhere.  

Good? Ready? Alright. The Batman is an excellent adaptation that encapsulates everything this character has ever meant to me. 

Large chunks of credit go to director Matt Reeves. The Planet of the Apes alum beautifully captures a grotesquely broken Gotham City that’s never felt more alive or more accursed. Rain continuously careens from the sky to coat the streets. There is a storm that always hangs over this city thematically and visually. And yet, there are moments where the light shines through. When Batman looks out at the city in the morning, Reeves reminds the audience just why Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne has pledged himself to this cesspool.  

To elaborate, Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne is unlike any other seen before. He’s a recluse. Just as much as a myth to the city as his masked counterpart. He’s a loner. He pushes people away rather than a bumbling billionaire that lavishes the limelight. But it’s Pattinson’s eyes that are perhaps the greatest weapon in his utility belt. They convey the trauma that follows a boy who watched his parents die, though thankfully, the audience is never submitted to the sight again. As Batman, the same holds. With the crane of his neck or the thud of his boots, you understand why criminals cower just at a glimpse of his signal. 

This is what makes Reeves’ film such a brilliant adaptation of Batman. For the first time, Batman is someone to be feared. The engine of his souped-up Chevrolet elicits a dread. To criminals, this Batman is a boogeyman waiting in every dark corner.  

Yet by the film’s end, Reeves reminds the audience this character is more than just a man to fear or one made of rage. No, Batman is a man to aspire to. He is a rallying cry for a city that’s drowning in the darkness. Vengeance and rage may fuel his first two years as the Caped Crusader, but it’s not enough. Not enough to bring about change.   

“Vengeance won’t change the past. Mine or anyone else’s. I have to become more. People need hope. To know someone’s out there for them,” Pattinson’s Batman narrates.  

Thematically, this is what makes this such a satisfying film. Outside of the fictitious world of Gotham City, we are in troubled times. I don’t think I need to even elaborate further for you to understand what I mean. Our world feels as if we’re one step from implosion and one push of a button from Armageddon. It would’ve been easy for Reeves’s film to reflect that feeling of doom. To embrace the darkness and live in the shadows.  

But that’s not the point of this film. The point is that Batman is an optimist.  

He weeds through the filth, death, and degradation of a city every night. He subjects himself to the worst aspects of humanity. He gets shot, stabbed, beat, bruised, broken, battered, and has nothing except his will to propel him towards another inevitable punch. At some point, others would give up. Not just on a childhood vow, but on their city. However, Batman refuses. Not out of psychological compulsion. He continues to fight because he still has faith in this city. He has faith that people can change.  

That’s what we need and deserve today. This film is a shining reminder that there is always something to fight for. There is a reason to endure through the hardships. Will that endurance change the world? Can it save it? No. Me, you, we can’t stop every tragedy. But we, like Batman, have to try. We have to hope. We have to give others a reason to hope.  

That is why Batman has always meant that much to me. I’ve lost people I love. I’ve turned on the news to see something soul-crushing. It’d be nice to give up in those moments. It’d be easy to think, “Why go on? Nothing will change. Time is just a forward march to oblivion.”  

And it sounds hokey to admit in writing, but Batman reminds me why I keep going. This silly character reminds me we’re more than the worst days of our lives. We can be more than our trauma.  

Reeves’s film ends with this understanding. As does Michael Giacchino’s score. It’s daybreak and Batman is still there saving people from the rubble well after the carnage subsides. While the scene continues, Giacchino plays a tune titled, “The Bat’s True Calling.” This character’s calling is to be signal to all of us. A signal of hope and strength.  

“The city’s angry; scarred. Like me,” Batman says. “Those scars could destroy us even after the physical wounds have healed. But if we survive them, we can transform ourselves. They can give us the power to endure and the strength to fight.” 

Photo courtesy of YouTube