Why "The Batman" is the New Take on Superhero Movies That We Need

Pop Culture

March 19, 2022

Superman, Iron Man, Captain America, Batman. These superheroes, and many more, are ones whose stories hold a significant and overwhelming presence in popular culture today. The rapid rise in popularity of Marvel Studios' superhero films took the world by a storm, leaving Avengers: Endgame as the highest grossing movie of all time following its release (although Avatar later reclaimed the title).

You can head to a movie theater at any time and expect to be able to see a new superhero movie. Whether it's Marvel or DC, there's no shortage. The unfortunate reality is that with studios producing these films at a rate near impossible to keep up with, they have started to feel repetitive and unoriginal.

The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves, takes a dramatically different approach to the superhero genre than has been seen since the rise of the Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes. This diversion from the format that audiences have grown to expect has the potential to re-shape the genre's modern form and bring innovative, exciting ideas to the big screen.

Is It Even a Superhero Movie?

It is difficult to liken the watching experience of The Batman to any other recent superhero film. This film is a mystery through and through. Think David Fincher's Seven or Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners.

Gritty, hands on detective work. The writing of The Batman narrows in completely on the impact of a serial killer's effects on a single city's politics, and the difficulty Batman has navigating his own role in Gotham's increasingly violent conditions, not shying away from themes of corruption and vengeance.


Even that brief overview of the direction of the film is enough to set it apart. From Eternals to Wonder Woman: 1984, it begins to feel like an obligation for the heroes of these films to take on a world-changing threat. Isolated stories, free from the cameos and cross-references so abundant in new releases such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, are a dying breed within franchise filmmaking—and The Batman proves why this should no longer be the case.

The focus on a new, contained story that had no previous knowledge required brought forth the most innovative work in the genre. Free from the shackles of formulaic filmmaking, The Batman is able to explore what makes movies so great in the first place: character.

Now VS Then

Batman, Bruce Wayne's superhero persona, is a character that has been explored many times, with Robert Pattinson becoming the third actor to bring the character to the live-action screen within the last 12 years alone. Despite the numerous iterations of the character, Batman has never been quite like this.

Bruce Wayne's childhood remains true to past iterations, having lost his parents at a young age and remaining the sole member of the extremely wealthy Wayne family. In the past, Wayne's rich bachelor lifestyle and copious amounts of money were presented as a retreat from the difficulties of being Batman while serving as the enabling factor for his work as a masked vigilante attempting to bring order to the streets of Gotham.


The Batman we meet in 2022 has a very different approach to his status as rich millionaire Bruce Wayne. While previous iterations of the character did, of course, possess the will to do good, this take on the character is aware of the privilege his wealth awards him, and refuses to use it as a justifier for his actions and motives. More than ever, Batman just feels like a guy wearing a suit.

He doesn't treat his money as enabling him to be Batman, or as the driving force which gives him the means to achieve his goals. Instead, he uses his own need for vengeance and care for the city as his primary force, with his riches rarely given the time of day. The average viewer can see Batman as a figure who can be related to, and not someone with an unnattainable status.


Despite truly wishing to bring positive change to his city, Batman's core motivation is vengeance. He uses this anger to push him to fight crime, steeling himself from his own emotions and those around him in the process, and is far from a hero who is loved by the masses.

Corruption within the city of Gotham runs rampant, with the mayor being a front for the true leader of the city: the head of organized crime, aided by the significant portion of the police force who work for him. The antagonist of the film, The Riddler, sees this injustice and misguidedly attempts to fight against it by killing those in power and assembling a group of terrorists to attack the city.


While Batman fights to stop the Riddler's rampage, he discovers that the Riddler did not view him as an inhibitor to his goals—he saw him as an ally. The realization that his own actions and public persona as "Vengeance" played a role in increasing the violence he was attempting to stop deeply shakes him. In a personal moment at the climax of the movie, he chooses to focus on rebuilding the city rather than seeking revenge on the aggressors, stepping away from his role as "Vengeance".

Vengeance won’t change the past. Mine or anyone else's. I have to become more. People need hope.

- The Batman (2022)

The reality of Gotham is one where injustice runs rampant and its citizens feel helpless to change the flawed system. These are themes and realities that audience members can truly empathize with, unlike inapplicable threats of intergalactic warfare that often fail to present any deeper meaning than a surface level action sequence, with characters drifting through arcs that are predicable and overly linear.

The Batman provides a true reflection on our own society all while remaining unafraid to present its "hero" as more than an archetype. He is a complex character whose motives and methods are flawed, and who struggles to come to terms with this fact. His decisions and realizations are nuanced, and ones that are experienced in the complexity of our own society.

Let's Get Cinematic

Working in tandem with the characters and themes is the exceptional crafting of the technicalities and pacing of the film. The cinematography, particularly the lighting, color grading and lack of obvious CGI, places this film apart from many others within the genre.

Dark shadows encompass the film in a dreary atmosphere typical of film-noir, aligning perfectly with the film's theme of the corruption lurking in the shadows of Gotham, while providing beautifully graded shots of the city's sky in scenes indicating hope for a better future. This is a far stretch from the infamously gray color palette that drowns many other movies in the genre.


The action sequences are what most diverted from modern superhero movies and provided it with a pace deserving of its three-hour runtime. It is expected for the final battle scene to take up a significant portion of a superhero movie's ending, though there is often no reason to do this aside from showing off flashy CGI. The Batman moves away from this expectation, with shorter, tension-filled confrontations throughout the film which build up to a short yet significant final sequence.

This was the most compelling defiance of formulaic filmmaking, and it paid off. Tension was built up slowly throughout the film, and the relationship between the villain and the hero was not reduced to one interaction in a final battle. This allowed each decision made and action taken during the climax of the film to be as impactful as possible, without the audience feeling fatigued from watching a lengthy action sequence.

The Future of Franchises

The Batman is a film that was clearly crafted with love and by a team of creative individuals. While large studios are notorious for having a heavy role in the shaping of the narrative and formula of blockbusters, the step back from pushing a well tested formula proved to pay off. Allowing for a small scale, complete story to operate within a franchise setting is the next step towards re-defining the superhero genre's modern form, bringing innovative films to the masses.

With Warner Bros. claiming that future DC films will remain driven by creatives and not studio-heads, hopefully The Batman is only the beginning of a bright future for franchise films—one where filmmakers run the show, not studios.

Meera Pande
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Writer since Jan, 2022 · 4 published articles

Meera Pande is a college student from Montreal with a love of writing and stories. She is excited to be part of the team at The Teen Magazine and to explore the world of journalism. In her free time she loves to read, watch movies and play the piano!