The Batman: Vengeance vs Hope

Silas Gonzalez ‘24

Matt Reeves’s The Batman (2022) is full of passion across all boards.  From the very first scene the impressive amount of work, direction, and creativity was made clear.  Matt Reeves and Greg Fraser have collaborated to create a point-of-view driven direction that places the audience in Batman’s eyes and how Gotham perceives him.  The Batman follows the Caped Crusader in his second year of vigilante justice, as he solves a murder-mystery uprooting the inner corruption of Gotham.  The Batman is seen as a vengeful punisher of Gotham’s criminals.  Some may look up to him (for better or worse,) and others detest his very existence.  The Batman establishes a beautiful take on what Batman is supposed to be to Gotham City.

The Batman and Bruce Wayne

To Bruce Wayne, Batman is a wall between himself and the world.  In this iteration of the character, Bruce Wayne is not the playboy philanthropist he is usually expressed as.  During the handful of scenes where Bruce Wayne is without the Bat suit, he’s secluded and struggles to hold eye contact while having a conversation.  Reeves’s Bruce is tormented by the past, and unable to grow up.  Thus this broken kid crippled by pain becomes the Batman to deal his own justice.  Robert Pattinson does a phenomenal job showing us this dynamic between Bruce and Batman with every subtle glance and unannounced twitch, which is compelling to me personally.  The audience never witnesses the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, instead we see how trauma has impacted our hero.  Batman is the only answer created by Bruce to avoid having to exist in the world, instead enacting vengeance towards the criminals of Gotham City.

The Batman and The Riddler

As the World’s Greatest Detective unravels a murder-mystery, the conflict stems from the Riddler.  As the movie’s primary antagonist, the Riddler aims to expose the inner workings of Gotham as vile and corrupt.  The Riddler’s spree of murders and infamy further degrade the Batman’s reputation alongside Gotham’s political climate.  The Riddler is petrifying in every scene he’s in, solidifying fear inside Gotham with his twisted sense of justice.  In the final act of the film, when Batman meets the Riddler, the Riddler reveals his admiration for Batman, becoming inspired by Batman’s vigilantism.  The dynamic between the Riddler and the Batman is powerful, and challenges the consequences of a crimefighter inspiring the minds of those they are protecting.

Vengeance and Hope

In Act 3 of the film, Bruce realizes the true nature of Gotham, and who he should become to protect it.  The fire of vengeance fuels the people of Gotham, they feel afraid and broken, like Bruce.  The Batman becomes a beacon for them, a flare in the dark when they are afraid.  An empathetic and tender touch is placed on the final act of the film, telling the audience that the broken can find a way to overcome. Those who feel alone in the dark and desperately need a light to guide them, and perhaps ignite hope.