We Don't Need To Compare The Batman To The Dark Knight

On March 4, a new chapter in the caped crusader's story was brought to life. "The Batman,"Matt Reeves' take on the fan-favorite DC superhero, is a crime-addled, detective-noir that is both epic and mesmerizing. The film is visually stunning, dripping with cynical melancholy, teeming with Batman lore and pathos. Reeves wonderfully captures how industrialism has impacted Gotham and allows it to be contrasted by Batman's shadow.

Since releasing, "The Batman" has quickly earned comparisons to "The Dark Knight," the second film in Christopher Nolan's trilogy featuring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Both films have a distinct and different premise — "The Dark Knight" plays out as a superhero crime-thriller that follows Batman and his allies teaming up against Gotham's latest terrorist, the Joker. "The Batman," on the other hand, is a slow burn detective noir that allows the caped crusader to shine in all his glory. They're inherently different films in style and story, so it's unfair to compare the two. 

I get it. "The Dark Knight" is seriously iconic. But that doesn't mean "The Batman" can't be as good or better — it's simply a case of perspective and preference.

The Batman is about the world's greatest detective

"The Batman" doesn't just have a nearly 3-hour runtime. It also features more batsuit screen-time than we have ever seen. It's "year two" in Batman's crime-fighting escapades, and the masked vigilante has formed a sort of partnership with Gotham cop Jim Gordon, and assists him in his sleuthing — he's good at his job and finally embraces his identity as "the world's greatest detective." He can answer riddles in anxiety-inducing, blood-riddled circumstances and detect clues by mere observation. He's new to vigilantism (remember when he gasped at the top of the building?) but has spent years honing and perfecting his detective skills. He can get to the heart of a mystery with patience and resilience — qualities any good detective must possess.

From the get-go, "The Batman" is a story about the caped crusader as a detective and not the billionaire Bruce Wayne — who couldn't be less bothered about his wealth and status in society. This is a grieving Bruce Wayne, one consumed by the tragedy of his parents' murder. He's absorbed by his Batman identity, still being pretty new to it.

The movie also touches on the principles that make Bruce Wayne the Batman. Is it his desperation to fight crime? Or that he seeks justice? Is it because of his resolution to make Gotham city a better place? In Matt Reeves' film, the Batman teeters on edge. He is in control and in a position to lose it entirely, and become that which he fights in the process. Matt Reeves brings back and employs the caped crusader's biggest rule, which ultimately defines who the Batman is — not just a masked vigilante seeking to end corruption in Gotham — but also a beacon of hope.

Is The Dark Knight unbeatable?

Or is it more iconic than unbeatable? Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" is easily one of the best superhero films of all time. Christian Bale is incredible as Batman — a fully-realized character who can easily switch between his real-life persona and the one he adopts in the shadows. He knows what he wants, he knows what he's doing, and the motivations that drive his intentions. He's a well-developed character because the trilogy gives Nolan both the time and space to ensure it.

"The Batman" and "The Dark Knight" have some things in common, though. In both films, the Riddler and the Joker are agents of chaos looking to shake up the status quo by exposing hidden, devastating truths. But to be honest, "The Dark Knight" is less Batman and more of a Joker show. Heath Ledger's convincing performance makes "The Dark Knight" distinctive and unique — he draws your attention to him, to the inner workings of his mind even when he isn't on screen. And when he appears, with his smeared face make-up and a razor-slashed smile, the Joker becomes a menace, an unpredictable character who wants to watch the world burn. His appearance is creepy enough, but what he symbolizes is all the more chilling. Ledger achieved something incredible in his performance — and it earned him an Oscar (posthumously).

"The Batman" also has a compelling supervillain — a trove of them, in fact. But rarely do they outshine the man in the cowl, because of how masterfully his psychology and detective work is brought into the spotlight. Matt Reeves lets The Batman shine this time. And that counts for something.

No more comparisons

"The Dark Knight" is outstanding, but it doesn't have to be a pedestal for all Batman movies to come. We can love and appreciate the work Matt Reeves has put into "The Batman" without making constant comparisons. Robert Pattinson is good. Christian Bale is good. Michael Keaton is the GOAT. And we don't talk about George Clooney, okay?

"The Batman" is the thirteenth live-action film ("Snyder Cut" included) based on the caped crusader, and Robert Pattinson is the eighth actor to wear a cowl. I can confidently say that Pattinson looks the best in the suit. But in terms of the stories they're telling, they're important all the same.