As the year started, I created a King of the Hill game for 2022. As we go, we will keep stacking the films as we go, replacing the new best film of the year at the top of the pile as we go deeper into the year. First King of the Hill of 2022 was The Innocents. Second King of the Hill? Italian Studies. And today? Today we have a new number one movie King of the Hill, The Batman, and it may effectively kill the 2022 King of the Hill list for the entire year. Alright… alright… I’m open minded. But I had a lot of fun with The Batman. That much is true.
Non-spoiler The Batman Preview
For those of you not fortunate enough to have seen the movie yet, let me give a quick teaser of my own as to why the movie is worth your time. But first a question… how do you feel about Noire? Like, noire-proper. Detective stories in the rain, and the city rat-scape of the underbellies of cities? Murder mysteries and riddles? I’d classify this movie closer to the movie Brick than I would a classic superhero film. And either that amps you up, or depresses you… and you should just know right now whether this movie will be your thing or not. Would a Ben Affleck, James Bond version of Batman be exciting to you (which is what he was rumored to have pitched Warner Bros. on) or do you prefer to see the stitching and underbelly of a thing? Reeves’ The Batman was a story of real grief, and real pain… not the skimming over the surface that so many other super hero films achieve.
I loved the music. The soundtrack was just amazing. (Note, I saw the film in IMAX, and although it wasn’t shot in an IMAX negative like large swathes of Nolan’s Batman’s were, the sound was just unbelievable. The car chase scene (that is in that trailer above) just blooms out of your chest. The sound is otherworldly good. The standard Batman theme is gone, and it’s replaced with something of a minimalist’s Imperial March from Empire Strikes Back… and it drives so much of the passion of the film, under-girds everything that it is about. And while Nirvana is here, book-ending the film, like it was in trailer, it is more about this driving baseline of minimalist chords… It’s almost even more of a Beethoven’s Fifth actually. What about Patterson’s Batman?? Was it good? His Batman is amazing… and I would say, he’s Batman almost 90% of the film. Sure, Bruce Wayne is here… but he’s not the playboy you expect. He is riven by the grief of his loss, and he’s assuaging this grief by letting his company go, and losing himself in the city’s larger problems.
Alright – Explain The Batman Movie To Me
If you just watched The Batman movie, and some details flew by you, let’s talk through them and find out exactly what happened and why. Let’s go.
The movie kicks off on Halloween as we watch The Riddler stalking mayor Don Mitchell across Gotham’s city roof tops. The Riddler has determined that his reign of terror will begin with Gotham’s mayor’s murder. Meanwhile, Batman, who has been Gotham’s vigilante crime avenger for the past two years, and has been busy cracking heads when the bat signal calls him to the mayor’s crime’s scene. Batman is sent a card from The Riddler, a card with a cypher in it. But when the other police officers realize that Jim Gordon has allowed a bat man into the city’s most important crime scene, Pete Savage goes ballistic. Then later, The Riddler murders Savage next, sending Batman another cryptic message.
Eventually, Batman finds that Riddler left him a thumb drive in one of Mitchell’s cars, and he and Gordon learn that the thumb drive has photos of Mitchell with woman named Annika at the Iceberg Lounge. Important detail about the Iceberg is that it’s operated by The Penguin… who is Carmine Falcone’s lead lieutenant. Attempting to learn more about these photos left by The Riddler, Batman questions The Penguin, but learns nothing. But he follows Selina Kyle as she leads him to Annika. Then after they lose her again, Batman sends Selina into the Iceberg Lounge to do learn where Annika might have disappeared to. And ultimately, Selina learns that Detective Savage was on the take from Falcone. Not only that, but so is District attorney Gil Colson. Basically, at this point, we are realizing that The Riddler is calling out a massive problem of crime and corruption that is running through Gotham’s city’s officials.
Later, Colson is abducted by The Riddler, and he has a bomb strapped to his neck, and is sent hurtling into Mitchell’s funeral. Batman makes an appearance in order to get his hands on the next Riddler note and cryptic clue. And Riddler calls Batman, and tells Colson that he will release him from the bomb collar if he can answer three riddles in 2 minutes. Batman answers all three… but the third riddle requires Colson to rat out the informant of the massive Sal Maroni’s operation bust the city accomplished recently. And with that, the bomb explodes, killing Colson dramatically. Ultimately Batman and Gordon realize that The Penguin is probably the informant… and they track him down mid drug deal. Which is when Batman and Gordon figure out that the Maroni bust was actually fake. Which is when Selina Kyle finds Annika’s body and exposes this bigger plot going on here. Soon after, Batman chases The Penguin down, but realizes that he wasn’t the informant when Penguin teaches them a small Spanish lesson.
Following the clues leads Gordon and Batman to the old orphanage that was operated by the Wayne Foundation. Which is when Batman learns that The Riddler was one of the orphanage’s boys that is holding a grudge against Bruce and his family. Which is why The Riddler sends a bomb to Alfred Pennyworth, which ends up hospitalizing him. But why does The Riddler hate the Wayne family so much? What did they do to him that was so corrupt? Aren’t the Wayne’s, in every single Batman rendition, saints? Hrmm. Well, The Riddler leaks information intimating that Bruce Wayne’s father Thomas – who was running for mayor at the time – hired Falcone to kill a journalist to cover up a story that was about to be run about Martha’s (Thomas’ wife) mental illness. As a result, Bruce confronts the hospitalized Alfred and learns that Thomas did ask Falcone to intimidate the journalist. Alfred also let’s Bruce know that when Thomas discovered that Falcone had murdered the journalist he threatened to go to the police and release what he knew about the murder. Which, is what ultimately caused Falcone to have Thomas and Martha murdered.
Are you tracking this so far? Bruce Wayne’s father inadvertently gets a journalist murdered. And as a result, pisses off an ex-orphan who had lived at a Wayne orphanage, and incurs his wrath as he cleans up the city of evil. Which, isn’t a far shade off of what Bruce Wayne is doing… Right? He is viciously attacking the unsavory elements of Gotham. He is Vengeance. More on that later.
Now, after this, Selina tells Batman that Falcone is actually her father… not practically, but her mother worked at the Iceberg, and that is where she was conceived. She also figures out that Annika was murdered because Mitchell had told her that Falcone was the rat. And at this, Selina is determined to kill Falcone, aka her own father. But after she infiltrates the club to assassinate pops, things go poorly for her. And Batman and Gordon save her and arrest Falcone instead. Batman basically makes the case that Falcone isn’t worth the moral depravity necessary in order to get revenge. And so she let’s them go. But as Batman and Gordon are walking him out, The Riddler snipes and kills him. The Riddler literally shot him out of his own bedroom window, and had been watching the criminal element for years. He was arrested, and is imprisoned at Arkham Asylum. Which went 100% all according to his plan. We learn that The Riddler – Nashton – was envious of Bruce Wayne’s sympathy post murder. So Nashton decided he was going to woo Bruce Wayne over… to partner with him, and the masked vigilante, in order to break the city’s dark elements.
But Bruce angrily denies Nashton’s offer and angers Nashton as a result. The Riddler was hoping to vault into a role alongside The Batman, and work hand in hand with him. Soon after, Batman discovers (under the carpet) that The Riddler has car bombs all around the city, near the waterfront, in order to flood it. Ultimately though, The Riddler has raised an army of snipers to converge on the shelter from the flood waters. And their ultimate goal? To kill Bella Reál, Gotham’s Mayor. However, Batman and Selina are able to stop the bloodshed, and the snipers in the rafters – but at the end of the day, Selina doesn’t believe the city worth saving. And she leaves. And Batman refuses to go with her. And Nashton? Nashton befriends the cellmate next door. But who is it??
The Ending of The Batman Explained
So The Riddler is in Arkham. Imprisoned. Like he wanted to have happened. So that he could meet The Batman, and convince him to join his just cause against the evils of Gotham. But who is in the cell next to him? Well, some have said it is Hush. But actually, Director Matt Reeves has confirmed the actors name and the role of the person in the cell next to The Riddler. It’s Barry Keoghan, the exceptional actor from the movie The Killing of a Sacred Deer. He was also fantastic in The Green Knight, and Dunkirk as well. And the role? Is it Two-Face? Hush? Who? No, it’s actually The Joker. Which, gotta say… not gonna lie… was a pretty ballsy move. I mean, Heath Ledger, people? He will forever more be the iconic, never forget, Joker to end all Jokers. Sorry Jack Nicholson – yours was cute. Granted. But to hear that Barry Keoghan is doing a Joker? It’s going to be crazy. If you don’t believe me – well then, you have not seen the movie Killing of a Sacred Deer. Anything the Keoghan does with Joker is going to be amazing. But, that’s only if you really enjoyed the direction that The Batman went in. Personally? I want an Arkham Asylum movie. But that’s just me.
My Thoughts on The Batman
Christopher Nolan’s Bat-Trilogy may just be my favorite trilogy of all time. I recently had an argument about the best trilogy ever, and when I pushed my chips in on The Dark Knight, someone else countered with Lord of the Rings. Which is a fair response. My counter offer? The Before Sunrise trilogy. I know, check mate… hahaha. Anyway, the fact that Nolan agreed to even do a super hero movie is amazing. And the fact that he chose Batman is even more amazing. And what he did with it was just unbelievably good. But The Batman is also good. In a totally different way. It’s like trying to compare various diamond cuts. They are so different, but so good in their own way. But what I do love about this version of Batman is the fact that it deals with the glorious depravity of man. The deep darkness skewering all our hearts. It’s more about us, than it is about our heroes. Does that make sense?
But the real brilliance of The Batman was in its ability to point out the extraordinarily tenuous distance between his role as VENGEANCE, and The Riddler’s role as VENGEANCE. Where is the moral high-ground here? Batman was beating criminals senseless, shattering bones, destroying them physically without giving it a second thought. Sure, he wasn’t murdering anyone… but how different is that to The Riddler’s posse in the catwalks, sniping helpless people below indiscriminately? And since when is vengeance a noble trait at all? Definitively not a moral right, that is for sure.
Better yet? Nashton is Bruce Wayne. He’s an orphan. He passionately cares about the heart of the city and the moral rectification (Is that a word? Yes, of course it’s a word.) therein. It’s a story of two boys, two similar goals… and two similar ends, desperate for salvation. I loved the point at which the clues stated… “The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son.” The Bible discusses how the sins of father will be visited upon his sons and daughters unto the third and fourth generation “Exodus 20:5.” It’s a well known human curse. And the curse can only be broken via an intervention of epic galactic levels. (Hint, Christ-sized, not bat sized… just saying.) But it’s an interesting place for a super hero movie to go none the less. And I loved it all the more for it.