Why The Batman Is A Huge Hit

For almost twenty years, the Hollywood industry has been at the height of its efforts to want to franchise with all its might, with a recipe and a visual universe reproduced to infinity. In this context, seeing a blockbuster attempt to think outside the box can be reassuring about creative health across the Atlantic.

the recent Dunes of Denis Villeneuve, so imposing and so cold, disconcerting. On the comic side, jester seemed to chart a new course, that of DC continuing to differentiate itself from the colorful Marvel movies, almost ten years after a trilogy by Christopher Nolan that will have set the mood but, above all, intimidated his heirs.

It was at this point that Matt Reeves’s fundamentally puzzling project landed, that of a separate film, like Todd Phillips’s, very anchored in reality, without deigning to tell the genesis of the character with a new actor. After a dozen films, and almost as many cult authors and performers, was it still possible to tell a new story? bat Man ? Spoiler: Matt Reeves shows that yes, in a masterful gesture.

A separate superhero movie

One of the great ideas of Matt Reeves is to have been based on the basic material, to understand the comics. Batman is the character that, along with Spider-Man, has more stories on paper, more comic book titles, with different authors, different universes, different biases. A Darwyn Cooke will not have quite the same approach as a Frank Miller, an Alan Moore, or even a Scott Snyder.

If Burton and Nolan were inspired by certain titles, the batman delve into it, either with the plots or with the tone. Thus we find a prince of Gotham who has to learn everything from Aone borna real police investigation for the The best detective in the world (an aspect that, for once, has always been left aside in the cinema), as in a long halloweenwith an angry Batman always ready to kick too much as in Egoand a Catwoman who is forced to infiltrate Gotham’s underworld as in the last heist.

An inspiration that also looks towards graphics. The photo of Greig Fraser, who had already cracked down on the sublime Dunes (for which it even earned an Oscar nomination), is the antithesis of Denis Villeneuve’s film: very dark, with relatively little variation in tone and color. The director of photography worked on his subject as if it were in black and white, playing with shadows, using diegetic lights to approach naturalistic photography.

From the first minutes we understand, thanks to the voiceover from Bruce Wayne’s diary, that his very presence scares criminals. That knowing that Batman is on the prowl is enough to prevent crimes, even if he isn’t in a corner. Because he maybe he is, in the shadows.

A brilliant idea that illustrates the vagueness that surrounds this character. The fact that Batman has been acting for a short time, and above all in a hidden way, prevents anyone from fully understanding his role or his place. The police can’t stand to see him arrive at the crime scene. A man he has just protected from a gang will have as his first sentence: “Please do not hit me”not understanding that Bruce just saved him.

Only Commissioner Gordon really understood his intentions. The relationship between the two, perfectly summed up by the Penguin in the “good cop, hit shit”, constitutes an authentic duo of police officers as the seventh art likes so much, central to so many comics. Just, does Batman really want the good stuff?

Not telling the genesis of the character avoids talking about what we all know – the death of the parents, Martha’s pearl necklace, the lonely childhood, the fall in the basement full of bats, and I continue – to get to the heart of the story. question: what drives this “vigilante”, who has been acting for only two years, from the beginning?

When we first hear him speak in the movie, his line is “I am revenge”. He is only driven by anger, he is there to strike and take revenge on life. The entire narrative arc around the character will focus on this reflection and on the evolution of the path of his thought towards a form of abandonment of his deadly individualism.

“Something in the Wayne”

Scenario intelligence is blending this heroic introspection into a police investigation. Detective work that will lead him to question his role, his place, but also his history, his heritage and his family’s past actions, Thomas Wayne in mind. The Batman mythology is broken down here for the first time, on camera by Matt Reeves.

A gesture that goes even further, turning Bruce Wayne into a withdrawn teenager, an emo-goth who wears clothes that are too loose, who doesn’t want to show himself in public, an introvert who doesn’t necessarily know how to argue with others when he isn’t. masked, and with a frankly naive worldview.

His batcave consists of a garage and two computers on a table in the back of the attic of the house, where he is being held. The playboy is dead, long live Kurt Cobain, which we hear through the sublime “Something on the way”, a title written by the American singer while he lived under a bridge, fleeing from family disputes.

Even more than his view of Batman’s place in Gotham society, it’s even his vulnerability that stands out throughout. We’ve never seen Batman take so many beatings, except in a fight against Superman, which makes sense. Even if he is devilishly effective in combat, he eats slippers, shots. He bites.

When he first tries on his costume to fly off the roof of a building, we see him falter as he realizes it’s his first try. This Batman listens to himself being human, like the aged Batman that we could see in The dark knight rises stick in hand.

All the supporting characters serve to accentuate the hero’s flaws. The Riddler comes to highlight the class difference between him and Bruce Wayne, where Selina Kyle comes to question his privileges, coming to question this idea that Batman’s trauma can justify his behavior as a vigilante going above the law. This theme of overcoming pain and its demons is dear to Reeves, and exploiting it here as he casts doubt on the legitimacy of Batman’s fight is one of the film’s big ideas.

Especially since all this is part of a growing social and political critique. Therefore, the investigation is related to a case of corruption, but it speaks of much more. It’s hard not to think of the capture of the Capitol in early 2021 by Trump supporters in the film’s final gesture, incense with the figure of the Riddler, from real disasters like Katrina…

To drive home his point, Reeves will draw on the paranoid thriller. The foreground is a true homage to the beginning of secret talk – Reeves assumed reference. The moral dilemmas, the notion of surveillance, and this heightened staging are typical of 1970s film noir (Pakula, Pollack, and more). The chases remember the french connection Where bullit. The atmosphere of the city and its mustiness, creepiness and its eerily staged murders seem straight out of Seven. And his Riddler looks straight out of Zodiac. A reference film, therefore, whose imagery will also be nurtured on the side of terror, and the erotic thriller.

the batman It’s not just a superhero movie, it’s a film noir, taken as such. However, it cannot be reduced to its referents since it manages to find its own identity and distance itself from their weight. Thanks to sublime imagery, sharp mise-en-scène, intelligent writing (despite a certain length), but also a cast in which no one is brief, and disconcerting music, one of Giacchino’s most beautiful scores.

A film of vertiginous mastery, which will mark the history of superhero cinema with a red iron.

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