Even Batman , like all icons of the collective imagination, is not an immutable monolith.
If evolution is the key to survival, each Batman establishes a dialogue with the instances of his time, listens to them and is modeled by them.
Matt Reeves has understood that, in order to relaunch the Dark Knight on the big screen and make it relevant again, it is not possible to ignore the world that is stirring out there: on the contrary, one must grasp its vital drives, class struggles, social conflicts, and synthesize them in that micro-verse that is Gotham City. This is exactly what The Batman does , an ambitious and highly refined blockbuster that proves right from the start that it has a lot to say.
There are no preambles, no origin stories. Reeves projects us directly into the second year of the hero, finding a middle ground between the incarnations of the past: this Batman ( Robert Pattinson ) is still in its infancy, but already collaborates with Jim Gordon ( Jeffrey Wright ) and his presence is now well rooted in the city. Criminals have learned to fear him: the symbol of him projected into the sky is enough to scare them. On the rare occasions when he doesn’t pursue thugs, Batman lives as a recluse like Bruce Wayne , obsessed with his “mission” and the death of his parents. Only Alfred Pennyworth ( Andy Serkis) keeps him company, while trying to get him to take care of family affairs.
The point, however, is that in this film the balance of power is reversed, especially if we think of the Christopher Nolan trilogy : it is not Bruce Wayne who is hiding behind the mask of Batman , but Batman who is hiding behind the appearance of Bruce Wayne . Most of the screen time is for the Bat Man, not his alter ego. Batman , in short, is the dominant personality, while Bruce a simple obstacle that serves him to move undisturbed during the day. When the Mysterious Riddler ( Paul Dano) begins to kill Gotham’s highest officials, the Dark Knight is called into question by the criminal’s riddles, and must investigate the corrupt soul of the city: a search that leads him to question his own role, his own nature.
The world out there
Horizons that also include contemporary reality and its Zeitgeist. Reeves ‘ Batman is inserted in a world where economic disparities are increasingly marked (a theme also touched upon by The Dark Knight Rises , but in a more reactionary way), and the social hatred of the Riddler finds justification in the injustice of the “system “. While inspired by Zodiac, the filmmaker reinterprets this supervillain in the light of our times, characterizing it as a cross between right-wing domestic terrorism and incel extremism. After all, also the mixed relationship of rivalry and admiration with Batmandon’t you remember what often happens between the incels and the so-called Chads? The complementarity between hero and antagonist is an uncomfortable truth, which pushes the Bat Man to a profound self-analysis.
In this sense, The Batman is not the story of his material origins (that is: how he trained, why he dresses as a bat, how he built the equipment, etc.), but of his moral genesis. For the first time, Bruce Wayne is confronted with his socio-economic privilege, and forced into a merciless comparison with the dramas of others: an inevitable reflection in an age where white privilege and class struggles are at the center of the debate. . Reeves and Craig ‘s screenplay stems from the need to rework similar themes in popular narration, aware that even a legend like Batmanmust dialogue with the present to continue living. It is precisely in this mixture of intellectual clarity and heroic tale (fueled by the splendid soundtrack by Michael Giacchino ) that The Batman finds his multifaceted, fascinating identity.