Readapting The Batman

So that new Batman movie, helpfully titled The Batman came out and it works very well. Which I found to be a pleasant surprise, all said. The Batman of Batman vs Superman and Justice League was a dour affair, taking the dark and serious Batman of The Dark Knight (and summarily lampooned by The LEGO Batman Movie) its extreme, and, honestly, I was pretty tired of it. It seemed like Christopher Nolan had done a serious Batman so well in his movies that the successors tried to do it but more.

The Batman is another dark and broody Batman movie, which I was worried would be, in the tradition of the two prior ones, an attempt to use that darkness as a hollow shortcut to seem ‘mature’ and ‘adult.’ It worked for The Dark Knight, so may as well ape it, right?

Fortunately, that’s not the route it takes. The Batman does what the Cowboy Bebop adaption should have done and goes back to the source. It doesn’t iterate on The Dark Knight, instead going back to the source, especially the 90s Batman cartoon and the Arkham games. The result is a brooding Batman movie that doesn’t feel like a lesser The Dark Knight but rather its own thing.

Further helping it along, The Batman also dives into a different genre. Where The Dark Knight is a thriller, The Batman leans hard into noir, replete with heavy shadows, near constant nighttime, and a corrupt city with only a few good people willing to do what’s right. Notably, this is also the direction the 90s Batman cartoon took, so I was absolutely delighted seeing my childhood imagery of Batman brought to life.

These days, one of my favorite things about Batman is the incredible latitude stories about him can have. You can have camp Batman, you can have thriller Batman, you can have noir Batman, you can have LEGO Batman. I enjoy seeing these new iterations — especially when they, like The Batman, don’t feel derivative of something that just came before. If there’s a sequel to this iteration, I hope we get Mr. Freeze as a villain, if only because I’m a big Mr. Freeze fan. If, instead, we get a new new Batman a few years down the line, I hope they do something totally different from the recent slate. Personally, I’m down for something campy.

But hey, let’s see what comes.

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