Is Matt Reeves’s “The Batman” even comparable to Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”?
A collage I did using both movies’ posters
Recently, the new Batman film, “The Batman” by Matt Reeves has been getting a lot of traction due to its insane cinematography and amazing plot and writing. Some may even say that it is the same or even better than the legendary “The Dark Knight” by Christopher Nolan, which many acknowledge as the best film in history, myself included. In this article, I will go through the key traits of both Batman films and share my opinions as well.
In “The Batman,” the protagonists are Catwoman and Batman and as the main antagonist, we’ve got the Riddler. As secondary characters we have the Penguin, Falcone, Jim Gordon, and Alfred; all of these play a small role in the lore but those small roles are key since whenever these characters are mentioned or appear on screen, we discover a big chunk of the whole mystery surrounding the story.
In “The Dark Knight,” as protagonists we have Batman and Jim Gordon, as the main antagonists, we have Harvey Dent (Two-Face) and the masterpiece of a Joker that Heath Ledger brought us. The secondary characters here are Alfred, Rachel Dawes, Lucious Fox, the mob, and as an honorable mention, the fake batmans. I would argue that the secondaries’ appearances are not as key as in “The Batman,” but that’s because they’re mentioned throughout the whole movie and are constantly interacting with the main characters instead of appearing in key events.
The Batman Batman/Bruce Wayne
Robert Pattinson plays Bruce Wayne/Batman in the new film. Credits: 20 Minutos
In “The Batman,” our hero is contacted because the mayor of Gotham has been murdered and he arrives at the scene along with Jim Gordon, only to find a corpse and a clue leading to the murderer. This is repeated throughout the whole movie and Batman needs to solve a lot of riddles since every corpse found comes along with one. We don’t get to see Bruce Wayne in daylight as much but when he appears, he is a very interesting character; without the “Batman mindset,” he looks like he’s been through an Eclipse from Berserk (you can read my other article for context) which I think is odd because he’s only been through his parents’ death when he was a child and has spent every day living like a billionaire ever since. But I let it slide because it looks cool and badass to a certain degree.
I believe that this Bruce Wayne is better than Christopher Nolan’s Bruce. However, this new Batman is not it. My intentions are not to bash the actor (Robert Pattinson), but I do think that this character was not written as the Batman we all know should be written. Batman is supposed to be the greatest detective of all time but this trait is not as strong in the movie; this Batman is outsmarted by the Riddler and the only way he is able to beat him is with a LOT of help from Alfred and some from the police. Furthermore, the Batman suit is the worst thing from the movie; I do not like the head shape and the neck of the suit because it’s not as intimidating as a Batman suit should be. It makes Bruce Wayne look uncomfortable inside it. However, I did like the Batarang as the chest symbol- that was a really nice touch. The Batmobile design is not even debatable but that’s for later on in this article.
Catwoman first appears at a bar in a strip club serving drinks to the Penguin as he talks with Batman and she gives the bat a look with no fear at all, a look of curiosity that instantly gave away who she was for me. She was not in fear nor got weirded out by the bat and acted as if she could defend herself if things somehow went south. Batman follows her to her apartment and we see her roommate, who is a Russian woman that she takes care of. Batman spies through her window and she puts on her suit to go rob someplace, so he catches up to her and they have their first one-on-one encounter. They both fight, giving us a masterpiece of a fight scene, and then we see a relationship starting to build when the bat saves her from being caught by a guard. Catwoman partners up with the bat to find the Riddler because her roommate was kidnapped.
Catwoman’s purpose for becoming his ally displays her anti-hero traits; the next time she displays this feature is when she finds a disturbing recording of her roommate being strangled to death as she begs for mercy and she decides that she will kill the man responsible at any costs. Catwoman finds someone who can lead her to the killer and she’s about to throw him from the rooftop of a skyscraper when Batman intervenes. When she finally finds the killer, she decides to straight-up shoot him but once again, Batman stops her. Catwoman’s character development is top tier since we see how she becomes an anti-hero, doing things not because they’re good, but because they’re good for her. Her relationship with Batman is also really well written; she’s by far my favorite Batman accomplice to ever appear in a movie. In the comics, however, I have other choices. As for her physical look, it’s alright considering that there has never been a “bad” Catwoman design in movies. I also liked the taekwondo scenes whenever she fought.
The Riddler/Edward Nigma
I hated Riddler from his design to his personality, but I must say, as a villain, he’s pretty well written. The Riddler uses poetry, puzzles, and even other languages to trick Batman. Whenever one of his Riddles is brought up, it feels like playing a game of trivia along with Batman. I don’t dislike this character because of this movie; I always thought he was really annoying and corny, especially in the Arkham games. As for his design… I’ve never liked Riddler’s design: it’s a dude with a cheap mask dressed in green. There’s not much to it and you can’t change that if you want to keep his essence.
Though my hatred towards this character doesn’t come from the movie itself, there’s one scene that did contribute. Batman interrogates the Riddler and he begins acting really stupid which I did not expect from someone as smart as Riddler; then he begins saying, “No, no, no, no, no,” and gets really irritating. This Riddler also becomes a niche micro-celebrity and forms his fandom of “mini-riddlers,” which is odd, and uses them to start a shooting in the building where everyone is taking refuge since he decided to also blow up all the ports of the city to flood it.
Though not the main villain, his scenes are one of the best ones in the film. The actor nailed the accent and every time he’s on-screen, something big is about to get revealed. The first time we see him, Catwoman is revealed along with some hints; then we see him when Catwoman finds the recording of her friend’s death which leads up to the absolute best scene in the movie when Batman chases Penguin down in the Batmobile and we see some Fast and Furious-type scenes. Then the Penguin flips a big truck and flames start coming out, so Batman jumps through them with his car and flips Penguin’s car, ending with an upside-down shot of Batman approaching Penguin with flames behind him (godlike scene).
I see Falcone as an underdeveloped character, but I believe that it was done on purpose since he is later killed to reveal the final mystery. Falcone is a mobster who has been ruling Gotham anonymously and also knows a lot about Bruce Wayne’s parents. He is more of a tool than a character; I would’ve been fine if Catwoman had gunned him down, not because I hate him, but because he was not so significant. When Falcone dies, Batman solves the final puzzle, the Riddler is captured, and the final scene begins.
Jim is supposed to be a white old man with a mustache at all costs. Not to be racist or anything, but that’s supposed to be his look, that’s supposed to be who he is. But in this movie, Jim is black, which is like having a white Lucius Fox, and we also get no relationship development with Batman. Out of everyone in the GCPD (Gotham City Police Department), he’s the only one who trusts Batman, but we don’t even get a reason why. He’s not a character I dislike in this movie, but he’s also not someone I’d say that belongs in the top best. For a sequel, however, this Jim has a lot of potential. It was sad that we didn’t see a hint towards his daughter but this Jim still promises a lot. Maybe we get some backstory between him and the bat, and maybe we get to meet Batgirl (his daughter), so there’s plenty of possible outcomes. This Jim also appears in key events such as every riddle and helps Batman solve them along with Alfred.
Alfred straight-up blows up and somehow survives. Alfred and Batman are the two characters that I don’t like that much in this movie. Alfred is a mentor to a grown-up Batman and Batman is like his child. I felt Alfred did not fit his role because he was playing a bigger part than Batman in solving the riddles. I hope this Alfred gets more development in a possible sequel along with Jim Gordon.
The Dark Knight
This Batman’s suit is very simple and compact; it is one of the best Batman suits in my opinion, right next to the Arkham Origins suit, but that’s not a movie. This Batman is very experienced and outsmarts everyone in the city; he is also way more independent than the new Batman. This Bruce Wayne is not bad, but I prefer Pattinson’s. This Bruce acts a little cocky and doesn’t show as much humanity, whereas in the new Batman we even see Bruce tearing up; it makes the character believable and relatable to a certain degree. Bruce Wayne is in love with a woman but acts really cold even when he’s not in the suit; in contrast, the new Bruce acts cold but he fails to keep his emotions inside whenever some tragic memory crosses his mind, like whenever the mayor’s child appears. He looks at him with empathy and looks worried and even sad. Christian Bale’s (Batman’s actor in TDK) Bruce’s most significant display of emotion is a smirk and that’s about it. I believe that if this Batman had Pattinson’s Bruce, it would have been perfect.
This Jim has the classic look, from the mustache to the glasses, and he also shows great care for his family. This Jim still has a great relationship with Batman but his men DO trust him, too. Even though Jim is no billionaire with extreme martial arts knowledge, he still keeps up with Batman and the teamwork is admirable. Apart from that, every other aspect of Gordon remains the same in both versions.
I don’t even need to explain how much of a masterpiece this character is. The Clown Prince of Crime is really smart and plays with Batman, just like a clown would do; he is very intimidating, his voice suits the character perfectly, his jokes are one of the most iconic lines to ever be spoken in a movie, his laugh is something more than perfect, and his humor is also top tier. This Joker is the best character in film history, in my opinion. He makes his first appearance in a bank heist, after which he ordered each of his men to kill their partner when they were done with their work, creating a domino-death effect. He ended up taking all the money to himself, it’s just brilliant.
The next time we see this joker is in one of the most GOATED scenes of all time: he arrives at a mob meeting and does a pencil trick to introduce himself; he then delivers jokes, quotes, insults, and punchlines that make the scene a thousand times better. He leaves like he didn’t just humiliate everyone in the mob and proceeds to be an absolute menace. The mob sets a bounty on him and he turns himself in but he “pranks” the mob leader, “Gamble,” by playing dead and then catching him by surprise and putting a knife up to his mouth followed by an iconic dialogue and then saying, “Why so serious?” and murdering him. Then he gives two halves of a pool stick to two of Gamble’s henchmen while they’re being held hostage and makes them fight to death to join him. Then, in the best scene in the movie, he reveals that he captured the future mayor, Harvey Dent, and Bruce’s fiancée and put them in rooms full of bombs; he blows both up but only Harvey survives and is hospitalized. The Joker heads to the hospital, manipulates Harvey into becoming two-face, and blows it up.
These are barely half of the things that the Joker did; he’s truly a menace. This joker has experience in hand to hand combat and psychology, and he also has nothing to lose, and a man who has nothing to lose is a man to be feared. He lives by his theory that says that it only takes one bad day to drive a man crazy. I recommend you see this movie and I guarantee you that this character will leave you satisfied.
This character is very interesting because we get to see his two faces, both literally and metaphorically. At the beginning of the movie we see him running for mayor and trying to be a good person, but, in his own words, “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Harvey is captured by the Joker and gets half of his body burnt from an explosion. When he’s in the hospital, the Joker arrives and manipulates him into thinking that Batman wanted Rachel dead (he’s also in love with her). After his transformation, we see a half-burnt Harvey leaving people’s destiny to pure luck, flipping a coin whenever he makes a big decision. I really enjoyed this character, he develops nicely and is foreshadowed all throughout the film. The transition from politician to criminal is done very smoothly. This character is not a highlight in this movie, but it definitely isn’t a weak point.
The new movie’s plot is more like a solve-the-mystery type plot while the old one is trying to prove Joker's philosophy.
This movie begins with a murder and a riddle, which is a very solid base for what is about to come since the rest of the movie revolves around that. With each riddle that Batman solves, he reveals another part of the plot. The movie feels really slow-paced but it helps because it gives the writers time to develop the characters completely. The only problems I had was that they had like 4 or 3 antagonists and developing all of them along with all the heroes is a very difficult task to achieve in a movie. A perfect example of this is found in the 2017 Justice League movie; it was too short to develop everyone in there along with the villains so it re-released in 2021 but this time it was 4 hours long. However, it did achieve the development it was seeking.
It is nice seeing the beginning of Batman since it takes place in Bruce’s 2nd year of being Batman. After solving a couple of riddles, Batman finds out that the “lies” that Riddler talked about in his Riddles were the ones that Thomas Wayne (Bruce’s father) spit. Bruce finds a very dark secret in the Wayne family and is left with nobody to trust. He interrogates Falcone and he tells him that his father hired him as a hit man to silence a reporter who knew too much, so Bruce believes that he’s been living a lie this whole time and complains to Alfred about this. Alfred tells him the real truth and says that Thomas hired Falcone, but not to kill the man, and when Falcone did, Thomas was left in debt with him. I liked this Wayne part because Bruce did not care about the family’s legacy and this part snaps him back to reality and also shares a more human part of him.
The next highlight in the plot is when Batman drags Falcone into police custody but, when he’s getting handcuffed, he’s shot and killed from an apartment window by the Riddler so he gets arrested, too. The Riddler’s arrest is just the final part of the puzzle because he reveals his plan of flooding Gotham and also goes for another liar, in this case, Reál, a woman running for mayor. The final scene in this movie is beautiful, from the color palette, to the fighting choreography; it’s a very complete scene. We see Batman fighting 500 of Riddler’s followers and he finally displays all of his martial arts skills. In this scene we also get the batarang scene which is really epic. It’s like all the characters were charging throughout the whole movie in order to blast at the end; we get small traits from the characters revealed throughout the movie and at the end, we see them all on display. It’s truly a spectacle.
The Dark Knight
This movie’s plot is a lot simpler and easier to digest. The main villain is set from the beginning and his plans as well. The Joker robs a bank and we see his personality and how he’s a criminal mastermind. However, the real plot begins when he decides to test out his hypothesis of only taking one bad day to drive a man crazy. The Joker begins experimenting with Harvey Dent and his theory proves to be right; next, we see him doing it with half of Gotham’s population but this time, his theory fails. This plot is very simple and that’s why I prefer it. As a kid it was really easy to understand and the more I watch it the more secrets I discover.
The new Batman’s production is godlike. I would say it’s its strongest point. The cinematography is beautiful and the color and light work is pleasant to witness.
TDK’s production is not bad, considering it is a 2009 film, but it doesn’t top the new one. The actors, however, are a far better choice than the new ones.
Extra easter eggs and gadgets in this movie are interesting. This movie is full of Easter eggs; we get plenty of Robin references and some underrated Batman villain references.ome are hard to spot, others are obvious; they’re still interesting nonetheless since they tease the material for future sequels. The gadgets are nice in this movie, though not incredible, except for the batmobile. That car is terrible in this movie. The chest batarang was really innovative and cool and so was Bruce’s bike; the camera in the contact lens is also nice since it’s a realistic way of implementing futuristic elements in Batman’s 2nd year. I dislike this batmobile because the only thing that makes it stand out from any other ordinary vehicle is the rocket on its back. If I’d see someone pull up in that, my last thought would be Batman coming out of it.
The Dark Knight
The extras in this movie seem essential; even the Joker’s got extra gadgets. I consider the Joker’ humor an extra but it’s also a huge piece in the character alone, from the pencil trick to the smile jokes; they complete this character’s essence of being a Clown Prince of Crime. As for Batman, I prefer this movie’s gliding, though it’s very far from realistic. It looks like it’s taken directly from the video games and I believe that makes it far superior. This Batman also has the x-ray vision instead of the contact lenses, which I think is better but again, the new Batman is in his 2nd year while this one is like in his 8th. Finally, this batmobile is actually a batmobile, not to mention it also carries the bike inside it whose design is a better one than the new one. This batmobile is big and intimidating, something that if you see coming, you know that peace isn’t an option.
I loved both films, but I still believe that The Dark Knight cannot be topped; that movie is just majestic. There are certain traits from the new one that I would’ve liked for the old one to have but it doesn’t mean that the old one is bad. I would give the new one a solid 9/10 and the old one a strong 10/10. Also, DC > Marvel.