The Batman Finally Makes Perfect Use Of Batman's Allies

Matt Reeves truly aimed to make "The Batman" stand out from the Dark Knight's previous cinematic exploits; shifting the genre to a more noir-focused direction — although its protagonist sports a cape and black body armor instead of a trenchcoat and fedora — and eschewing the well-worn origin story, instead choosing to focus on Batman during the second year of his crimefighting career. But the biggest difference has to be in how Batman interacts with his various allies.

Batman has perhaps one of the most unique supporting casts in all of comic book history, and Reeves — along with his talented cast — manages to explore these characters in a way that hasn't been seen on the silver screen until now. The three biggest dynamics are the partnership between Robert Pattinson's Batman and Jeffrey Wright's Jim Gordon; Batman's will-they-or-won't-they relationship with Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz); and finally, the tension between Bruce Wayne and his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis).

Warning: spoilers for "The Batman" follow.

Good cop, Bat cop

Perhaps the best dynamic in the film is between Gordon and Batman, in the sense that it actually feels like a partnership. Wright's Gordon is an active participant in the narrative from start to finish; he and Batman track down the clues that the Riddler leaves behind after each of his grisly murders, and Gordon even proves to be instrumental in providing Batman with an escape route from a precinct full of corrupt cops. 

This pulls from the classic Batman story "The Long Halloween" by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, which Reeves described as one of his biggest influences when writing the script. In that story, Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent — who becomes the villain Two-Face — enlist Batman's help in taking down the mobster Carmine Falcone. During "The Long Halloween," Gordon and Batman use their respective connections in law enforcement and vigilante activities to dismantle Falcone's empire. Falcone, played by John Turturro, even serves as a major foe in "The Batman."

A purr-fect pairing

Another relationship that's given major weight in "The Batman" is the flourishing romantic relationship between the Dark Knight and Selina Kyle. While it's been explored before — most notably in "Batman Returns" and "The Dark Knight Rises" — "The Batman" shakes things up by exploring how Bruce and Selina's alter egos put them at odds. Batman uses Selina as a mole to gather information, while Selina hopes to leverage his skills in finding her missing roommate. Despite the friction between them, the two are drawn to each other — which makes the film's ending all the more heartbreaking as Selina departs for the city of Bludhaven by movie's end.

Once again, Reeves draws from "The Long Halloween" as Batman had a romantically charged relationship with Catwoman, who sought out Falcone for reasons that were unexplained at the time. It was revealed in the sequel series "Catwoman: When In Rome" — also by Loeb & Sale — that Falcone was Selina's biological father. This turns out to be a major revelation in "The Batman," and why Selina is robbing Falcone: she feels she's owed the money for everything she and her mother had to suffer at his hands.

No ifs, ands or butlers about it

The relationship that undergoes the biggest change is that between Bruce and Alfred. I've always believed that Alfred Pennyworth is the one comic book character that's the easiest to cast; all you need is an Englishman with a fatherly demeanor that looks good in a suit. It worked well for Michael Caine and Jeremy Irons, and it would have been easy for Serkis to coast on that. But "The Batman" opts to go in a different direction by having Alfred act as more of a partner than a father figure to the Dark Knight. Alfred uses his military background to help Bruce decipher the Riddler's puzzles, and mentions that even though he taught Bruce how to fight he wasn't that much of a father figure.

Once again, Reeves drew from another comic to craft the fractured relationship between the two. "Batman: Earth One" by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank reshapes Alfred as a former military man and the Waynes' bodyguard, who trains Bruce as Batman. Bruce ends up admitting that Alfred is pretty much the only family he has after the Riddler bombs Wayne Tower, in a scene that brought a tear to my eye.