It's time for the Geeks to take on the latest iteration of The World's Greatest Detective. And this time, he brought with him a definitive article. And in order to tackle a movie the magnitude of The Batman, Chris, Ian, Shane and Murd welcome back Julian Lytle to the show! Prepare for a review not quite the length of the movie itself, but still one that delves into the finer details, inspiration, costuming, acting, staging, and brooding that Matt Reeves' take brings forth. So sit back, put your Batmobile on autopilot, eat your fresh berries, and get ready for a bevy of Batty opinions! (2:03:53)
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Enjoyed this podcast. Some spoilers if you haven't seen the film. And also a warning: If you don't want to read criticisms of the film, don't read this. My MVP award goes to Chris Eberle for thankfully offering a genuinely diverse view. Without him this would've been a pretty one-note love fest. I thought he raised an excellent point about this new version of Batman not being all that Batman-like. Everyone says this film is much darker, but I'm not so sure that this film is actually any darker than The Dark Knight, I think it's that this version of Bruce Wayne has never been so profoundly dysfunctional and morally muddled. Batman's always obviously been obsessive, but this version is incapable of caring about anything other than fighting crime - or more specifically (and glibly): "vengeance". As written, he doesn't have any particular attachment to "saving" Gotham itself as almost every other iteration he has. There's no sense that he loves this city. This version also can't even pretend to be somebody else. The only reason he goes out into public as Bruce Wayne at all is because it will help his war on crime. I'm surprised the whole city - never mind the police and the Riddler - isn't suspecting that he might be the Batman after two years. A rich recluse with no personal life who looks pale and grim on the rare occasions when we do see him in public. Oh, and his parents were killed. Maybe he's Batman?
The film also attempts to draw a moral equivalency between him and the Riddler which I didn't care for. In this film the Riddler believes that Batman and him are on the same side which I think is a great twist, but my problem with it is that director Matt Reeves seems to think so too until Batman has his "Martha!" "Ah-ha!" moment when he hears "vengeance". Dark Knight had a similar scene between Batman and the Joker where Joker kept trying to convince Batman that they were alike, but he only meant that they were alike in being "freaks"; being weird people who operated outside the law. But Joker (and Nolan) knew very well that he and Batman were not in any way morally equivalent which is why Joker spends the film trying to convince Batman (and others) that he actually has no ethical through line by forcing him into making hard choices between saving one individual he loves and several he has no emotional connection to. But that just makes Nolan's Batman more relatable (and functional), not less.
Obviously Matt Reeves plans on having this Batman "grow" into more of a helper, but it just rings hollow when we know in the next film Batman is still going to spend alot of time using force to get his way. He'll finally start donating money and serve on some boards, but he's still going to spend alot of his time on the streets beating criminals up. I mean, assuming it's still a Batman movie.
And I was glad Murd brought up the fact that Riddler's shoehorned-in, third hour P.S. Addendum plan (after the whole storyline we were watching was concluded) makes little sense. If Riddler believed that the whole city was just too corrupt and needed to be washed away, why bother with letting everyone know how corrupt its officials were? Why show the Gotham citizens he believes are equally corrupt anyway who the corrupt people are? The whole thing seemed designed only to set up a sequel and insert a political metaphor for the threat posed by "incels", specifically white male incels. I found it curious that the Riddler exposed all sorts of political corruption to every Gotham citizen and would have been seen by many Gotham citizens as a sort of whistleblower hero (including many on the Far Left), but in the climax, the only people he'd drawn to his cause were white males. Why is that?
We're also meant to be emotionally invested in the new mayor and her administration being saved because presumably she is going to be free from the corruption that has ensnared everyone at every political level. But why should the audience assume that is the case and be emotionally invested in their being saved? Simply because she's new and told Batman he needs to do more philanthropic work? And I sincerely wonder: is it because she's black and a woman? Is that a question I can wonder about and ask? If not, why not? The whole system's corrupt at every level except for Jim Gordon (who miraculously manages to hold onto his job despite the fact that he makes no attempt to hide that he is routinely allowing a masked vigilante access to crime scenes) but we need to care about her administration because we're meant to assume they're going to be on the straight and narrow?
One last problem I had: the idea that Gordon or any cop could keep an unconscious Batman from being unmasked from the church to the police station struck me as particularly absurd.
Having said all this, I mostly liked the film. It's got style to burn, looks and sounds beautiful, has some absolutely great performances, and we get the Darywn Cooke Catwoman costume.