The Batman Features So Much More Batman Than Other Batman Movies

It feels like an eternity that we've been waiting to see Robert Pattinson make his debut as Batman, but the time has finally come. Nearly five years after Matt Reeves was hired to direct "The Batman" and almost three years after Pattinson landed the role, the movie has finally landed in theaters, offering us our latest big-screen incarnation of the classic DC hero. And, as the title implies, there is indeed a whole lot of Batman in this one. While that might seem like an obvious thing to expect in a "Batman" movie, you might be surprised. As such, this makes for a pretty interesting addition to the franchise and offers up some room for discussion.

Warning: major spoilers ahead for "The Batman." Proceed with caution.

Batman is actually the star in The Batman

Robert Pattinson, a man largely known to the broad public as the guy from "Twilight," made for a pretty fascinating choice when Reeves was met with the notion of having to cast a new version of the character after Ben Affleck decided he wanted to step away. Yet, in the early going, he appears to be winning out in the popular vote from both critics and audiences alike. For those who have seen the movie, one thing that stands out is that Pattinson gets an absolutely crazy amount of time in the suit when compared to other entries in the franchise. It's only mere minutes into the movie's runtime when Battinson makes his first appearance in his full costumed glory, and most of his time on screen in the three-hour flick from then on out is spent under the cape and cowl.

What's remarkable about this is that "The Batman" is a character-heavy and plot-heavy film. Yes, there is action but it's not what one might call action-packed. This is, as promised, more of a dark detective take on the hero. And Pattinson does most of his work in the suit with the mask on the whole time. He gets to have engaging character moments and development in the Batsuit. He has an entire relationship with Zoe Kravitz's Catwoman/Selina Kyle under that mask. This is something we haven't really seen in previous entries in the franchise, or certainly not in a very long time.

Take "The Dark Knight" for example. This is still held up by most as the gold standard for "Batman" movies but, as I've often (kind of seriously) joked, it is an excellent crime drama that just so happens to have a superhero in it for a few minutes. Yes, Christian Bale gets more than just a few minutes in the suit but relative to the movie's runtime, it's not that much. We get an awful lot more of him as Bruce Wayne and a lot more of the surrounding characters without the protagonist. Pattinson, meanwhile, is doing the lion's share of the work for most of this movie's huge runtime, all while parading around in the decked-out Batsuit.

A change of pace

It doesn't seem like a whole lot to ask for, but it's kind of remarkable how relatively little Batman has been featured in the quality live-action movies over the last 20 years or so. In that way, "The Batman" truly delivers something that a great many fans have probably been craving for a very long time. This is a "Batman" movie in the true sense, putting him, not Bruce Wayne, at the center of this crime thriller in a game of cat-and-mouse with The Riddler. That makes it all the more remarkable that Pattinson is able to deliver such a compelling performance as the hero without having much of the other side of the coin to lean on. He's got to convey an awful lot through those blackened emo eyes, and he most definitely does. This is a tortured, grief-stricken Batman who is outwardly angry, a little reckless, and looking for vengeance, even if it's in the wrong places.

When you have a franchise that has been going more or less steady for more than 30 years with various actors and directors interpreting the work, it helps to allow for different takes. Don't just try to repeat what worked the last time. This is a character with more than 80 years of history in the pages of DC Comics and allowing Reeves to craft a very specific, fresh take on the character is what makes this movie feel fresh. But none of that works if Pattinson isn't capable of doing some quality in-suit acting. Just look at how often Marvel movies see their heroes taking off their masks during key scenes; Pattinson doesn't get to do that all too much and it adds something to the movie as a result. Mind you, I'm a gigantic MCU guy so I'm not knocking anything here, but it's just a different flavor. We don't go to the movies to see the same thing over and over again. Or we shouldn't anyway.

The Bruce Wayne of it all

All of that having been said, there is the "Bruce Wayne" of it all to address. One major thing that largely helps make Batman work as a character is that he is an extremely rich white person with a lot of privilege who happened to suffer a miserable tragedy. Rather than take his privilege and attempt to move on, he decides to become a vigilante who beats up criminals with his bare hands. Forget being a billionaire and crafting an impenetrable suit of armor like Iron Man. This is the down-and-dirty version of it.

Yet, by day he still has to be Bruce Wayne. He still has to put on the face of Gotham City's most famous resident, and one with a great deal of wealth who has a gigantic business to run. The dichotomy is wildly important to the character. We've seen a lot of this in the past admittedly but there was shockingly little of it at play in "The Batman." Even in the scenes where we do get to see Pattinson as Bruce, such as at the mayor's funeral, he just seems exactly like Batman but in people's clothes. There is little difference being played with here. Granted, this is clearly a choice by Reeves and Pattinson and a deliberate one at that. This is a Batman who is very early on (relatively speaking) in his crime-fighting days. He hasn't struck that balance yet.

Even taking that into account, for a three-hour movie I most certainly could have used more Bruce Wayne and a bit more of a dividing line between those two versions of the man. Even if it was still made clear that this younger version of the character was struggling to find that balance, I feel a big element was missing in having Batman in full Batman mode overshadow the alter-ego so strongly. Then again, if we get a sequel, we'll more than likely get to see that dual life evolve, so as this universe evolves this may look a little different in hindsight. Either way, it's something different and as we continue down the road of superhero movie dominance, that is important.

"The Batman" is in theaters now.