The Batman: Embracing Influence Without Sacrificing Authenticity

by Aziz Syed, Reporter

Matt Reeves’ take on Batman is entirely unique and stands out from the eight live-action Batman films that precede it by introducing a dark, rough and gritty narrative that mimics the most recognized and praised Batman comics. “The Batman” borrows significantly from the classic DC comics “Batman: The Long Halloween” and “Batman: Year One,” both also focusing on the early years of the world’s greatest detective. The influence of these comics can be most transparently seen in the story of “The Batman,” taking key events from these tales and re-enacting them in film.

There’s very little to no fluff or unnecessary moments in this film. Every piece of dialogue or shift in story in some way enhances the plot. Thematically and structurally, “The Batman” takes great influence from classic crime noir films like “Chinatown”and “Seven. “The Batman” pulls the dark and mysterious tropes from this genre and masterfully molds them to fit a fresh new story. Establishing influence from beloved movies while also not mimicking them or feeling repetitive can be an exceptionally difficult thing to do. Warner Brothers had issues doing this properly in the past, most notably with “Joker.” “Joker” similarly took great influence from critically acclaimed movies such as “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy” and didn’t shy away from wearing its influences proudly but consequently failed to stand out from these classics because of its similar open-ended vague ending and distinct, almost identical pacing. In many ways “Joker” felt like a retelling of a story that’s already been made with new characters and settings. The same cannot be said for “The Batman.” This movie is unlike any of its kind that precedes it by retaining the comic book elements Batman fans have loved for decades. 

“The Batman” seems to be structured as if the writers, Matt Reaves, Mattson Tomlin and Peter Craig wrote an entirely new original Batman comic book that could be released as a graphic novel, and filmed it scene-for-scene for the big screen. It is for this reason that many viewers had issues with the runtime and pacing. The constant comic book-like twists and turns and what seems to be a never-ending plot make it unwilling to fit a typical film structure. By no means is “The Batman” a particularly experimental movie, but in a time where most superhero movies feel increasingly similar to one another, “The Batman” is a fresh take on a beloved character and stands out in a genre of repetitive movies. This project is a major step forward for comic book movies, proving that these films can be abstract, creative and unconventional and still be received positively and do well in the box office. 

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures