***Warning*** There might be spoilers in this review. I haven’t seen The Batman but I feel pretty confident I’m right.
As the title says, I haven’t seen The Batman yet. I’ve got a lot of things going on here at home and haven’t had time to watch a 19-hour movie. However, I’ve seen every other Batman movie, read tons of comic books, and watched all of the cartoons. I’ve got this.
The Batman tells the story of Bruce Wayne. As a young child, he’s rich and mopey. His obnoxiously rich parents take him to a fancy play thick with foreshadowing – Bats, Mask of the Phantasm, Phantom of the Opera, etc. They leave the play through a dark murder alley. They’re murdered in the murder alley. Martha Wayne’s pearls bounce in the gutter.
He’s then placed in the care of his butler who, for unknown reasons, doesn’t hire a therapist for this traumatized child. Due to the near-abusive child rearing of his butler, Bruce grows up into a violent fetishist who dresses in rubber and fights the mentally ill. That covers the first 20 minutes or so. How am I doing so far?
Bruce beats up some criminals who either can’t shoot straight or weirdly don’t have guns. He then absolutely bungles some typical Batman behavior – misses with the grappling hook, drops a criminal he’s only trying to intimidate, gets set on fire, etc. This shows that he’s not the Batman you expect; he’s still human. Ohhh, that’s high drama.
The Riddler appears towards the end of act one. He commits murders and leaves behind riddles so vague as to be unsolvable; nevertheless, Bruce solves them. Commissioner Gordon has a mustache and glasses. He probably meets Catwoman at this point, another violent rubber fetishist.
(I am absolutely killing this review.)
Bruce solves some more riddles and beats up some more goons. Here, in act two, he begins to question his purpose. Is he really so different from the Riddler? Is he actually the one making Gotham worse? Oh, this is heavy angst. He then shrugs off those legitimate questions and punches some criminals to fill an unfillable hole within himself. Onward to the final act.
Eventually, he punches enough people to get to the Riddler. He punches the Riddler.
The Riddler goes to Arkham Asylum; nobody thinks he’ll stay there. Roll credits.
How’d I do?
The Batman Monomyth
In nerd speak, a “rogues gallery” is a superhero’s roster of villains. Batman has a great rogues gallery: Joker, Riddler, Bane, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, etc. These are great villains and thus, they’ve been done to death. We’ve seen at least 12 live-action depictions of the Joker and over 250 depictions in total. Doesn’t that kind of feel like more than enough? Furthermore, we have seen some absolutely incredible depictions of the Joker. Cesar Romero in 1966 and Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight come to mind. What exactly are they trying to improve upon?
Furthermore, Batman has other villains beyond the same five we see in every movie. Hush is a rich orphan who dresses up all in white and does evil, a sort of bizarro Batman. It’s a fascinating storyline. Bronze Tiger is basically Black Panther; that’s fun. The Court of Owls are an old-money cabal with near-immortal assassins; isn’t that cooler than riddles?
In addition to villains we haven’t seen, Batman has thousands of stories we haven’t seen. Every month, DC Comics publishes multiple new Batman stories. So, why is every movie about him being sad and punching other insane people? Just off the top of my head, I’m thinking of The Blackest Night storyline in which he gets a Green Lantern ring, the Return of Bruce Wayne in which he travels through time, and Gotham by Gaslight which takes place in the 19th century as he hunts Jack the Ripper.
What am I supposed to believe? Am I to believe that people won’t pay to see Batman lead an underground resistance against alternate reality Nazis who won World War II? That’s what Hollywood wants me to believe? C’mon, man.
So, way to go, Hollywood; you’ve finally done it. It took 33 years, but I’m finally tired of Batman. I hope you’re happy. To paraphrase The Killing Joke: life is a bowl of cherries, and this is the pits.