The BatmanRichard Houck
Introduction to The Batman
The new Gotham city, presented by director Matt Reeves and inhabited/stalked by Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne, is gothic and atmospheric. On the first of two viewings, I found myself so enamored by the backgrounds and music that I was less focused on the dialogue. Gotham is not merely a backdrop to the events taking place but is brought to life and is almost a character in its own right. Bruce Wayne’s “Batcave” is an abandoned subway station beneath Wayne Tower, which also houses his gothic-styled manor.
Dystopian yet beautiful, Gotham City comes into its own. There is a scene where Bruce is riding his motorcycle through a “Times Square”-styled part of the city featuring a curved road not found in Midtown Manhattan’s actual grid. Bruce leans into the corner with a bit of countersteering, revving as the bike straightens out. It’s a new touchstone in film cityscapes.
Penguin’s club on the docks, Gotham Square, and even the Corner Diner all come to life more authentically than I’ve seen them before. Cities very much have a personality and feel to them, and you can feel Gotham in The Batman.
If you’re familiar with the 1995 film Se7en, you might notice some similarities. Everything was darker in The Batman, visually and thematically. Elements of horror films are used in the early scenes, where a set of eyes appears from the shadows to Waterphone sound effects in the old orphanage.
Let’s talk racialism in The Batman. The first scene that I noticed in which race is an issue in Gotham is when a gang is shown riding the subway, wearing face paint, while a new member is undergoing an initiation. Only half of his face is painted in the gang’s Halloween-styled makeup. They terrorize Gotham by finding victims and playing “the knockout game” with them while filming it, and then uploading the video to the Internet. I immediately noticed something you would only see in Hollywood: the gang is mixed-race. It includes whites and blacks, as well as what looked to be a mixed-race teenager as the one being initiated. The symbolism here could be any number of things. The group’s youngest member being mixed-race could signify a new racial direction for Gotham’s youth. “Diversity” is finally being achieved in human form, not belonging to any particular group but to a new one entirely. An Asian man is the would-be victim of the gang’s knockout game.
Gotham City Police Department is racially integrated, as are most police forces in big cities in real life. A young detective, Martinez, is a very light-skinned, affable character — one of the good guys. Detective Jim Gordon, a longtime staple in the Batman franchise, is here played by a black actor, Jeffrey Wright, the first time the role has gone to a black man in a live-action production. The other notable casting choice is Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman. Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, and Anne Hathaway all played the character on film before Kravitz.
The choice to diversify the cast was carried out oddly. This is because both Wright’s Jim Gordon and Kravitz’s Catwoman were exceedingly white-presenting. These are two characters with deep roots in the world of Batman. Wright’s voice in the film was reminiscent of that of Gordon in Batman: The Animated Series from the mid-1990s, which I enjoyed immensely as a kid. This Gordon felt familiar. His demeanor, tone, mannerisms, vocabulary, temperament, and everything else came across as very white. Similarly, Catwoman, from her choice of clothing and style to the motorcycle she rode to her sense of loyalty and justice to the way she presented herself, never once seemed like a person of mixed Jewish and black ancestry. Even her habit of adopting stray cats felt almost stereotypically white.
This way of presenting the characters is both good and bad. It’s good because I could watch the nearly three-hour movie in which Gordon and Catwoman have significant screen time without feeling like diversity was being pushed on me. But it’s bad for the same reason. The subtlety of replacing historically white characters with non-whites was so soft that it managed to avoid offending even me, somebody who is hypersensitive to such deliberate casting choices. My fear is that the “normal” audience will see this very seamless transition onscreen as an indication that transferring to a less-white society will be equally well-ordered in the real world.
There was a line about “white privilege” during a dialogue between Batman and Catwoman; a single line in an almost three-hour film. It felt hamfisted and out of place. Nowhere in Gotham is “white privilege” on display. An entirely black-presenting character, Bella Reàl, wins the mayoral race at one point. This is perhaps not an indication of pervasive white privilege in Gotham but a sign that a new regime is rising, similar to the scene of the gang member being initiated. I believe the symbolism was deliberate and connected.
Catwoman complains to Batman that the city is run by “white privileged assholes” who face no accountability. She states this after correctly assuming that Batman “grew up rich.” The line is so odd and out of place that it nearly feels like the fourth wall is being broken, as if Kravitz had turned to the camera mid-scene, stopped, dropped character, and said, “Oh, did you think you could go see a movie and escape anti-white politics? For three whole hours? I don’t think so.” It’s almost as if there is some Hollywood checklist that must be completed before a production can be finalized and distributed.
The major players in the city’s corruption and drug underworld are all white, as presented in the film. Falcone, Maroni, District Attorney Colson, “the Penguin,” and Mayor Mitchell are among the key figures in Gotham’s crime network — all white men. Their victims are also primarily portrayed as whites, however. The disappearance of a young blonde cocktail waitress, Annika, who is Catwoman’s roommate, is the reason she ends up getting involved in the first place. The Riddler, the story’s primary antagonist, is also white and feels deeply wronged by the system of corruption at Gotham’s highest levels. The Riddler grew up an orphan in what is described as horrific conditions, later becoming a forensic accountant and eventually a vigilante/supervillain after witnessing being victimized by the corruption firsthand.
There is undoubtedly an element of class privilege present in Gotham. The notion that there are secret inner circles within the political world where one is beyond the reach of the justice system is one such indicator. Perhaps this film’s producers, and society as a whole, have deemed that concept an example of “white privilege,” but if that’s the case, it dramatically misses the mark. Besides which, beyond any class privilege that may exist, you still need to be an “insider” to enjoy such privilege. Bruce Wayne, despite his wealth, was never privy to the inner workings of the city’s network of corruption.
Themes of Fringe Movements and Justice
Throughout the film, The Riddler communicates with 500 social media followers who are described as “real fringe types.” His followers are also troubled with the conditions of corruption and decay permeating Gotham City, and like The Riddler, they want something to be done about it. They, of course, cheer The Riddler on as he goes about dismantling the criminal underworld and taking on corrupt police officers, all while revealing some of Gotham’s dark secrets.
As far as I could tell, Batman and The Riddler have the same goals. They want Gotham to be a friendly, safe, high-trust, and well-functioning city; a place people could be proud to call home rather than a haven for corruption where good people are victimized at every turn.
Batman himself is derided as a “freak” by some in law enforcement while seen as a welcome addition by others. This theme plays out in Nolan’s trilogy as well, as it does through the entire Batman canon. In The Dark Knight (2008) The Joker tells Batman, “You’re just a freak. Like me.” In this film, after meeting The Riddler and upon hearing how he sees Batman as a kindred spirit and fellow traveler, Batman is repulsed and calls him a freak.
Throughout Batman’s history, the idea that the line of justice is very blurry is a common one. This is evident in the dialectical nature of Batman and the villains he fights, given that the latter often have similar motives to his own and are sometimes interested in similar ends despite disagreeing on the proper way to arrive at the destination. Both Batman and The Riddler are so disgusted by the city’s corruption that they are willing to give up their lives in pursuit of a better Gotham. At the corrupt Mayor Mitchell’s funeral we even see a group of citizens gathering to support The Riddler’s activism. The film’s writers wants us to think they are lunatics with fringe views and want us to support Batman and Jim Gordon, but I struggled personally to see their internal rationale or consistency. There have to be more than simply vague appeals to the “justice process.” The very nature of Batman, a masked vigilante, is an example of the justice process is being shirked, with one man often acting as judge, jury, and hangman.
In all, the film is beautiful. The gothic architecture and styling are immersive. The split-window Corvette replacing Bale’s Bruce Wayne’s Lamborghini is a perfect fit for the start of a new, darker Batman film series. The music is sullen and well-placed.
Finally, Bruce Wayne’s monologues come from his daily journaling. It is a great touch, filled with several interesting insights relatable to people like us. We in the audience are privy to the reclusive thoughts of a billionaire orphan trying to fix the only city he has ever called home. Bruce is filled with doubt that anything he can do will matter. He has little faith that his efforts are anything other than in vain, yet he carries on night after night.
* * *
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I didn’t want to pay for this as I knew ahead of time what it would be. Thankfully it was very easy to find the movie online.
But still I could be wrong right ? So I braced myself for some ‘wow’ factor.
I watched about 10 minutes. Maybe I’m too jaded, but I didn’t see anything beautiful or wow at all. I felt like I was looking at a made-for-TV movie or an Amazon Prime production.
We get preprogrammed by the hype to find anything with Batman in it cool/wow/beautiful/new/edgy ahead of time and I’ve seen a number of people come away describing those things with this movie.
Yet at least for myself, none of those qualities were actually present in the film. In fact what I saw of the film was unusually plain and remarkably conformist. Quite an achievement for the producers to instill an idea about what they think they’ve seen into the audience.
One experiment here is to see how a particular big blockbuster movie with a ton of hype will date and I don’t see how this film will date well. I’d be surprised if anyone will even remember it in 5 years, let alone 10. I could see that in the 10 minutes of this I could endure. It’s disposable and transitory.
But I was particularly surprised by the film’s score which I had also listened to separately. It is unbelievably poor and much of it sounds like a condensed form of the Imperial March theme from Star Wars.
And this is before we even get the unwanted diversity/inclusion training session that the film is.
I read somewhere that fans were angry the lead actor didn’t even bother getting into shape for the role. I just get the impression no one really bothered at all. Or perhaps they didn’t know how to.
I probably made it through a full hour of that abject garbage. It was woke to the core, and overwhelmingly, irritatingly stupid. Like “Ernest goes to [whatever]” dumb, yet takes itself so seriously that it’s impossible to laugh at or enjoy. Cat woman had the ugly appearance of low IQ, drug addicted street trash in every possible way. Every action sequence was a rapid fire string of deus ex machina devices, about as well thought out as any 5 year old would make up on the fly while holding action figures. Not a particularly bright 5 year old, either. It’s embarrassing to think that each of these scenes was the result of elaborate choreography and hours of planning.
I agreed to watch this movie because I’ve seen this Batman actor in two relatively minor roles (tHe King, and Lost City of Z) and found him impressive. He was not impressive here. I won’t say he was miscast, as no actor could save this stinker. Batman’s Butler was miscast. Didn’t come off like a butler at all, but as a low-rent cockney.
Even the music was dumb, like a ripoff pastiche of Star Wars’ Imperial march at times, and a dragged out scene where I think Batman was riding his motorcycle in the rain, depressed, and they played the entirety of a Nirvana song words and all.
Who says the diversity didn’t seem heavy handed? How so? They sacrificed all catwoman’s feminine beauty and charm upon its altar. They made sure to only put makeup on half the black kid’s face so as to make it obvious “he’s black” and make him the only one of the group who had a semblance of conscience.
Anyway, I didn’t make it far into this 3 hour insult to intelligence, and I won’t be returning. All I can think of while watching is how overwhelmingly stupid everyone involved in it’s production is. They’re stupid, they have a lot of power, and they hate both you and your kids
Well you got further than I did. But everything you said seems to very much overlap with my own experience.
Maybe they are cool for kids and young adults or for people who are quite comfortable unwinding to a Netflix series or whatever, but these big superhero, or just generally rebooted franchise movies today might as well be constructed by an algorithm then rubber stamped by a committee.
They are obviously intensely constrained with regard to political correctness, appealing to different demographics, global markets and ensuring an overall moral tone that doesn’t ruffle any feathers in the system and generally flatters the system and its values. They will try to curtail the kinds of healthy right wing energies people like Johnathon Bowden talked about in fiction. Actually more than that, they clearly feel compelled at times to clumsily inject their corporate left wing poz, “That that white bigot!”
After all that is established it just becomes about saturating the senses with the idea of having consumed something. It doesn’t matter how unnutritious or even poisonous that thing is. They just push it out there and get enough people to consume it. Get enough bots and genuinely hopeful fans on youtube and twitter to talk about it. Sell. Make money. Repeat.
We as white nationalists hope that something will still come out of that we can relate to or enjoy and accept, but for me its gone past a point where than can happen in an authentic healthy way. We end up clutching at straws with these films. We end up consuming with a whole list of liking-it-despite this or that. At best we are pulled into something with some values we find attractive only to be shitted on in some other or multiple ways.
But I could see even from the trailer this was a void, and then what I watched confirmed that. There wasn’t even an attempt to create something memorable.
I’m done with it.
I find all superhero movies boring, and yet I still watch many of them (though fewer over time), especially Batman films. Perhaps I’m always foolishly hoping for something good. Or maybe it’s just that I refuse to allow myself to own a TV, and sometimes I just like to escape to the movies for most of a vacation day. So I squeeze in an inevitably forgettable superhero film just because there are so many playing all the time. Some have been OK; none have had the effect that many other non-intellectual movies that I saw in theaters had (eg, Dirty Harry, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Sorcerer, Apocalypse Now, Alien, Body Heat, The Terminator, Aliens, Unforgiven, Tombstone, Braveheart, Titanic (I admit it – though I only saw it once until I saw the 3D remake sometime in the 2010s), Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, The Descent, Skyfall …).
This Batman actually held my attention through most of its considerable length. And yet, while I only saw it about 6 weeks ago, and do remember most of it, it really didn’t make much of an impression. The plot was silly; the acting mediocre; one hardly cared for the characters. Still, I never felt like I wanted to leave.
I was very entertained by this film especially by Batman’s moments of fleeing from police and enemies and by Paul Dano’s ‘incel Zodiac Killer’ version of the riddler, whose main objective is to secure the rights of fellow video gamers against those of women who want them to get jobs. And Zoe Kravitz as the catwoman didn’t even bother me as her line about white privilege just sounds like something a typical beta femoid in her position would say to a high-status white guy she hopelessly pines for in an attempt to be saucy. Batman is implicitly right-wing and this film doesn’t change that.
The previous trilogy of highly acclaimed and popular Batman movies ran as recently as 2008-2015. I believe Batman featured on the big screen subsequently as well, played by Ben Affleck. Anyway, I just don’t care anymore. Must we watch Batman religiously every couple of years and comment on the precise shades of grey the cinematographer used or the degree of chiseling in the hero’s abs? If you are under 25, you’re excused. Some of these themes and cinema aesthetics have a certain power when your mind is unformed. But otherwise, give these 20th century Jewish fantasies a rest and consider picking up a book.
Oh so well said, Mischa. “[G]ive these 20th century Jewish fantasies a rest and consider picking up a book.”
Or watch an old Randolph Scott, Gary Cooper, or Barbara Stanwyck movie. Now there’s beauty, adventure, and storytelling fit for White folks. Enough of this gloomy romanticizing of adolescent impotence.
The fact that these are indeed Jewish fantasies– both present-day Hollywood’s and the original DC creators’– should not go unremarked. Whites are being gaslighted to internalize these as our own. However, Batman obviously represents an identification with the vampire, but given a phoney comic book “hero” Tikkun Olam twist. As Andrew Joyce writes, This Jewish affinity for the vampire is surely one of the most remarkable and telling sociological quirks of the modern European-Jewish interaction.
Books too are tainted, to varying degrees. See my post on the Viking and Black Lesbians’ post from a day or so ago.
I could add to that. A book bought several years ago on Colonial Botany, which otherwise was excellent and scholarly — but it had a persistent and insipient bias that I didn’t catch at first; it was like a very faint bell at first, I heard in the distance and didn’t pay much attention to it, but as I progressed through the book, which was a collection of various scholars’ work, the bell kept going off, and started to become louder for me.
Finally I did some research into the editor and it turns out she’s “An international authority on the theory, practice, and history of gender in science” (Wikipedia). But of course!
Once I did this research and figured out the bias of the editors (for there were two, both women, both professors: but of course!) I could see it was actually not so much a book about botany, but about colonization, and particularly anti-Western European and anti-(white) men. Which was a little hypocritical given that the two women editors owed much of their scholarship to the same people they were chipping away at. Like Stymphalian birds defecating on the shoulders of the giant white statues they were perching on until it rots finally and crumbles into a mass of rubble.
This agendal bias seeps and filtrates into every subject and every media now. To the point where we may need to have ratings on the various categories for each article of consumption: anti-Western e.g. anti-white (check), promotes gaiety and LGBTQ [not just puts up with it or accepts it] (check), child-friendly (check, er maybe not actually), …
Batman vs Ironman, DC vs Marvel, Republicans vs Democrats, conservatives vs liberals: the false choice pervades popular culture.
This movie bored me, and it was long.
And the Batman basically cucks to the Catgirl.
From the comments I’ve received about this review, it seems this film is quite polarizing. People either really enjoyed it or hated it. I’m not really one for superhero movies as a general rule, I had a hard time sitting through the few Marvel ones I have seen.
I understand the sentiment of not wanting to participate at all in the current “culture” due to what it has become. I felt that way for a long while and then went back to it at a certain point to see what was salvageable and to critique. Batman will always be fascinating to me, far more than any other super hero franchise I think. I re-read Dark Right last night, certainly worth reading Trevor Lynch’s review of the 3 Nolan films. It adds somethings to the experience. Maybe because of the time the Nolan films came out relative to my life and them being some of the early work I read here, Batman looms larger for me than others.
In any event, thanks for reading!
There have been past interpretations of Catwoman as being tawny, so that much is forgivable. Still, how many times do they have to reboot Batman? I say that the ’60s TV series was the best! K-POW!
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