The return of the Dark Knight: how Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” restored the character’s on-screen legacy


“The Batman” has been praised wildly by critic and fans alike, with the film being the perfect addition to the franchise. The character additions and acting have been consider a true “breath of fresh air” for die-hard fans.

Director and co-writer Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” was released on March 4, and it’s the latest tale previously unseen on the big screen for the character. With a rating of 85% by Rotten Tomatoes, the gritty and grim portrayal by Robert Pattinson’s Batman is a return to the character’s detective noir roots, as he faces the Riddler (Paul Dano) in a tense game of cat and mouse. Yet with its almost three-hour duration, the film has moments where it teeters on the edge of being worthy of such high critical and audience acclaim.


This film is a return to what we expect from Batman, yet it twists the narrative by focusing on the early stages of Bruce Wayne’s heroism. When you think of a Batman film, what’s typically pictured is Christopher Nolan’s 2008 “The Dark Knight,” featuring Christian Bale’s composed and suave portrayal of Bruce Wayne well into his career. Ben Affleck has taken the role since “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” in 2016, enduring criticism from fans. With hopes of bringing the Justice League to the big screens, Ben Affleck’s Batman was bleak in comparison, since Superman is godlike and Wonder Woman is an actual demigod. This portrayal turned Batman’s legacy and abilities into ever-flowing money in his wallet, which isn’t exactly a lie. 

As if Reeves heard fans’ reprisal against the series, the brooding and almost horror film-esque tone of the movie takes inspiration from the grittier source material found in comics, like Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” from the ‘70s. He’s stated repeatedly that his iteration of the Riddler is based off of the Zodiac Killer. Combine all of this inspiration, and “The Batman” feels accurate in its display of dubious morality fans have cherished in the characters’ back stories. 

Pattinson’s Batman amplifies the duality of what it means to be Bruce Wayne. The action pales in comparison to its legacy, but “The Batman” focuses on the intellect and dubious morality that makes Batman who he is.This film humanizes Bruce as rightfully unkept and emo, given the state of Gotham and his budding vigilante career. It’s a worthy yet grueling battle between him and the Riddler, and we get to see characters other than the Joker, like Catwoman (Zoë Kravtiz), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) and the Penguin (Colin Farrell). For those who cherish the series, this portrayal is a breath of fresh air in the DC universe. 

It’s essential to realize that why “The Batman” feels right is primarily because of how low standards for the series have been. It doesn’t go quite in-depth into characters outside of a few scenes, but Reeves did the impossible by reviving this Batman on-screen. It’s still difficult to look at the film without rose-tinted glasses because of the star-studded cast’s talent, but “The Batman” will always be remembered as the return to the Dark Knight’s roots.