The Batman First Reviews: Not Just a Good Batman Movie, but One of the Best Comic Book Movies Ever

Critics say Matt Reeves' gritty, grounded take on the "World's Greatest Detective" is one of the best we've seen, from Robert Pattinson's performance down to the cinematography and the score.

by | February 28, 2022 | Comments

The Dark Knight returns again in The Batman, a fresh take on the titular DC Comics character, this one with Robert Pattinson making his debut as the Caped Crusader. Directed by Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes) and co-starring Zoë Kravitz, Colin Farrell, and Paul Dano as the respective Batman villains Selina Kyle (otherwise known as Catwoman), the Penguin, and the Riddler, the movie promises gritty, grounded superhero fare crossed with a crime thriller. Does it work? Let’s find out with a breakdown of the first reviews of the first live-action solo Batman movie in a decade.

Here’s what critics are saying about The Batman:

Is this the Batman movie we’ve been waiting 83 years for?

The Batman is the closest thing to a comic book accurate version of the characters we’ve seen on the big screen thus far. – David Gonzalez, Reel Talk, Inc.

Never has the Dark Knight been portrayed in such a thoroughly authentic and exciting way. – Josh Wilding,

The Batman is a unique commemoration of the Batman mythology and its stylistic and tonal shifts across its 80-year history. – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

One of the best DC films of all time… The Batman is a breath of fresh air… a masterpiece. – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate

It’s more of the same, and not nearly as good as what came before… or even particularly good in its own right. – Evan Dossey, Midwest Film Journal

How does it compare specifically to other Batman movies?

The Batman is immersed in dark undertones, not unlike Batman: The Animated Series. – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate

Reeves presents the most robust version of Gotham we’ve seen since Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. – Peter Debruge, Variety

Reeves has made the best Batman film since The Dark Knight. – Ross Bonaime, Collider

If The Dark Knight is Batman’s Heat, this is Batman’s Se7en. – Peter Canavese, Groucho Reviews

Robert Pattinson in The Batman

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

What about comic book movies in general?

Not only is it a match for the strongest of those outings, it’s also up there with the best comic-book movies overall. It’s that good. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

The Batman deserves every cinephile’s attention and discussion as it cements its place as one of the essential comic book films of the last 20 years. – David Gonzalez, Reel Talk, Inc.

Among the best of the genre, even if — or more aptly, because — what makes the film so great is its willingness to dismantle and interrogate the very concept of superheroes. – Peter Debruge, Variety

Sits alongside greats like The Dark Knight, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: No Way Home as one of the best superhero movies ever made. – Josh Wilding,

The Batman feels… like something superhero filmmaking hasn’t been in a long time: a full-on cinematic meal. – Jeffrey Zhang, Strange Harbors

The Batman should tell audiences that other superhero movies are possible, and yet more, they can be had outside the formulaic tentpoles filling theaters today. – Robert Daniels, The Playlist

How is Robert Pattinson in the title role?

Pattinson’s performance will likely divide viewers, but his Batman is an angry, simmering character perfectly suited to the story being told. – Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

He quickly enters the pantheon of all-time great Batmans, and that’s not a hot take. But an accurate one. – David Gonzalez, Reel Talk, Inc.

He delivers the best live-action Batman since Michael Keaton. – Kirsten Acuna, Insider

His work here is every bit as transformative and groundbreaking as what we saw from Joaquin Phoenix in Joker. – Josh Wilding,

As Bruce Wayne, Pattinson is a revelation. – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

He looked too “grunge” as Bruce Wayne. He seems like a teenager as opposed to a full-grown adult with money and power at his disposal. – Allison Rose, FlickDirect

Robert Pattinson in The Batman

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

Which villain stands out?

Colin Farrell undoubtedly steals the show as The Penguin… the best take on Oswald Cobblepot we’ve seen on screen. – Josh Wilding,

Kravitz is a stand-out with her ‘40s style femme-fatale lilt and her ability to embody slinky and smart in equal measure. – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Kravitz is the best live-action Selina Kyle to date. – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate

There is no denying that Kravitz is the best version of the character thus far. – David Gonzalez, Reel Talk, Inc.

The highlight on the supporting character front is Dano’s Riddler, who manages to be far creepier and more unsettling than comic book movie villains typically manage. – Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

Paul Dano [is] utterly petrifying every second he’s on-screen. – Don Shanahan, Every Movie Has a Lesson

Suggesting an Oscar nod for Dano’s Zodiac-style Riddler won’t be out of the question. – Peter Canavese, Groucho Reviews

Do any of them come close to Heath Ledger’s Joker, though?

Paul Dano makes the Riddler as terrifying as he is magnetic… It’s a performance every bit as good as Heath Ledger’s in The Dark Knight, and it’ll haunt your nightmares. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Pattinson and a typically superb Dano share an interrogation scene to rival Bale and Ledger’s in The Dark Knight. – Peter Canavese, Groucho Reviews

He’ll inevitably be compared to Heath Ledger’s Joker… but this is a different kind of madness that Dano nails — it’s less outward-facing and maniacal and more terrifying in its intensity. – Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

While Dano never reaches the level of Ledger, it’s pretty clear to any viewer that this may go down as the second-best villain in any Batman film. – David Gonzalez, Reel Talk, Inc.

Ever since Heath Ledger won an Oscar for playing the Joker in The Dark Knight, every actor treats Batman villains like they’re King Freakin’ Lear. His final monologue is grossly overplayed… It’s annoying. – Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

Paul Dano as the Riddler in The Batman

(Photo by Jonathan Olley/©Warner Bros.)

How is the action?

Exhilarating. – Mae Abdulbaki, Screen Rant

Reeves brings a sharp perspective to these characters. Particularly through the fight choreography. – Robert Daniels, The Playlist

Perhaps most thrilling is the appearance of the Batmobile… The show-stopping street pursuit sequence uses the car in thrilling ways and keeps character drive continually at the forefront. It’s phenomenal. – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

A car chase between the hero and the Penguin [is] an incomprehensible mess. – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

Is this a more realistic portrayal of Batman?

You thought Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman was realistic? Matt Reeves says Hold my Batarang… This is a Batman story told with a commitment to reality which instantly distinguishes it from all other films featuring the character. And it works incredibly well. – Germain Lussier,

A refreshingly grounded approach that even Christopher Nolan’s ostensibly realistic trilogy of movies lacked. – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

The most grounded feature we’ve seen with Batman since, well, the serials of the ‘40s. – Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

As a “grounded” movie, [it] tries to unpack the privilege of Bruce Wayne but ends up with a story that basically features him teaming up with cops who grow to trust him as one of their own. – Evan Dossey, Midwest Film Journal

Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, Robert Pattinson as Batman in The Batman

(Photo by Jonathan Olley/©Warner Bros.)

Does it work as a detective film?

The best detective story to date — yes, including animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. – Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness

The Batman presents easily the most investigative work this character has been granted in live-action form since the Adam West-led 1960s television show. – Don Shanahan, Every Movie Has a Lesson

It finally makes “the world’s greatest detective” deserving of the title. – Kirsten Acuna, Insider

It’s more of a detective procedural than a superhero movie. Law and Order blended with horror featuring costumed vigilantes. – Germain Lussier,

By mostly keeping you with Bats, it elevates the detective angle and adds an intrigue that keeps you gripped throughout the near-three hour runtime. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Reeves lays it out relatively elegantly, such that audiences can follow the many twists of Batman’s investigation. – Peter Debruge, Variety

How does the movie look?

Stunning. The Batman is a dark movie. A very dark movie. And so when there’s light, it almost paints the frame, creating exquisite shots and sequences throughout. – Germain Lussier,

The cinematography by Greig Fraser is phenomenal. The way in which The Batman works with shadow and light makes for a gorgeous aesthetic that complements the seedy underbelly of Gotham with Batman’s journey. – Mae Abdulbaki, Screen Rant

Cinematographer Greig Fraser has taken a cue from the movies of David Fincher to deliver a world of rainy nights and overcast days where shadows and smoke coil through the city’s alleyways and streets. – Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

Reeves does craft some piercing images… a fiery highway chase and a fight by strobe light all make for thrilling imagery. – Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle and Robert Pattinson as Batman in The Batman

(Photo by Jonathan Olley/©Warner Bros.)

What about the score?

The score is sublime, and there’s not a single scene in the movie that doesn’t benefit from the composer’s work in some way. – Josh Wilding,

Michael Giacchino’s haunting score perfectly captures the noir vibe. – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

Michael Giacchino’s operatic score lives on the edge of unsettling. – Robert Daniels, The Playlist

The musical score by Michael Giacchino is simultaneously beautiful and haunting. – Mae Abdulbaki, Screen Rant

The music in this film felt like a supporting character… absolutely incredible. I’m almost certain this score will earn some award accolades down the road. – Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds

Are there any major issues?

One could fairly knock The Batman for refusing to have fun. – Peter Canavese, Groucho Reviews

The script does get a bit too talky at times as excessive exposition takes hold. – Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

It also contends with a few other bumps along its relatively smoothly-paved road, like having its characters summarize for the audience what they should already know during bulky exposition dumps. – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

The Batman is trying to be an entire trilogy in one film in case the studio takes Batman in yet another direction. – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

Robert Pattinson in The Batman

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

Is it too long?

Pacing is never an issue (though the run time is long, it feels positively brisk). – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

While [Reeves] could have cut off about 20 minutes of footage, the movie doesn’t tend to drag as the plot keeps the viewer engaged throughout the almost three-hour running time. – Allison Rose, FlickDirect

Its three hour runtime flies by, although its third act feels a little overstuffed with what could be considered three ending points. – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

There’s a temptation to have wished The Batman was shorter, more honed in on one character… The noir elements aren’t wholly pulled through, often slipping due to the elongated runtime. – Robert Daniels, The Playlist

Does it still make us optimistic for Batman’s cinematic future?

The Batman reminding us just how incredible these stories can be is welcomed, and the future looks bright for our new Dark Knight. – Josh Wilding,

It’s good to be excited again about the future of Batman. – Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

It’ll leave you desperate for another visit to this impeccably-crafted world. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

The ending leaves you craving for more. – Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds

I cannot wait to see where [Reeves] takes the franchise from here. – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

The Batman is in theaters on March 4, 2022.

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