The Batman

The Batman ★★★★

Two thoughts upon my fourth viewing:

1. This might be the first major superhero movie to exist in a post-Watchmen world. This Batman recognizes that punching the shit out of individual criminals is never going to change the world for the better. He recognizes that he's become a symbol of violent individualism, a downright fascist worldview where those with righteous power, veiled by shadow, fire their own idea of justice down upon the hapless masses. This is a movie that takes the lessons of Alan Moore's philosophical takedown of superheroism and American hyperindividualism and actually applies them to one of the most famous comic book characters of all time. What would a smart, compassionate, truly honest Batman do when confronted with the dismal reality of a world where an ubermensch like himself can claim dominion over humanity in order to supposedly save us from ourselves? He makes the choice to do better at the end, change his symbolic status, stand for something more than vengeance. That gives me hope for a truly new Batman story when we get a sequel.

2. Aesthetically, this is my favorite cinematic Batman. It radiates a whole heightened, saturated, magical vibe while remaining anchored in the tangible, from the rumbling metal of the Batmobile to the structural problem of "crime" itself in a world where we all know that simply beating up bad guys is never, ever going to make the rest of us safer or more secure. It's pitched somewhere between the cold realist precision of Nolan's trilogy and the bulging, toxic-dream ethos of the Arkham video game series (to date my favorite iteration of Batman outside a few specific comics). There's a swooning romanticism here that's given gravity by the gritty physicality of the action itself - the action stuff hurts, the detective work feels genuinely voyeuristic - and I'm brought back once again to DePalma worship, a subject I share in common with director Matt Reeves.

Finally pressed play on my 4k bluray of The Batman and y'know what? It looks and sounds unsurprisingly better than its hbo max presentation. No regrets except still wishing I'd caught this on the big screen.

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