The first reviews are in for The Batman. The grungy and gritty reboot from director Matt Reeves (Let Me In, War for the Planet of the Apes) sees Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse, Tenet) don the cape and cowl of Batman, in Year Two of his crusade against the crime and corruption of Gotham City. With allies Alfred Pennyworth (The Lord of the Rings' Andy Serkis) and Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Westworld's Jeffrey Wright), Pattinson's younger but vengeful vigilante investigates a trail of cryptic clues from enigmatic serial killer The Riddler (There Will Be Blood's Paul Dano). Brought out of the shadows and onto the streets of Gotham, Batman encounters such rogues as Catwoman (Kimi's Zoe Kravitz) and the Penguin (The North Water's Colin Farrell).
Early reviews compare The Batman to Christopher Nolan's 2005 franchise-reviving reboot Batman Begins, similarly set in the early years of Bruce Wayne's (Christian Bale) costumed crime-fighting career. In Kofi Outlaw's 4 out of 5 star review for ComicBook, The Batman is "a stunningly fresh vision of the Batman character, world, and lore that ultimately got muddled and lost along the way... [offering] fans a doorway to a more promising franchise future."
Writes The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney, the latest from DC Films and Warner Bros. is "a brooding genre piece in which the superhero trappings of cape and cowl, Batmobile and cool gadgetry are folded into the grimy noir textures of an intricately plotted detective story." Though praised as a "soulful nocturne of corruption and chaos" with "excitement and thrills," The Batman is humorless. "Reeves' film hammers home the realization that somewhere along the line, someone — probably Christopher Nolan — decided that Batman movies should no longer be fun," Rooney writes, adding: "As compelling as the Nolan and now Reeves takes on the material are, all that gravitas can become heavy."
Brian Lowry of CNN praises the darkest "Dark Knight that hardcore fans have long desired," but criticizes the detective-driven film's three-hour runtime. The Batman "hangs around too long, really feeling it down the stretch," Lowry says, adding the final act "could easily lose 30 minutes without sacrificing much. Most of that flab comes during the final hour, which serves a purpose in terms of the character's maturation but piles on at least one climax too many."
"Holy runtime!" notes Johnny Oleksinski in a negative review for the New York Post. Criticizing The Batman as "bland and forgettable" and "too bleak," Oleksinski writes the lengthy runtime of the "slowly paced detective noir" makes for a "trudge through a banal story." Oleksinski adds, "The Batman is the first Caped Crusader adventure in a while to come off as completely purposeless. Christopher Nolan's movies reframed the comics as realistic, psychologically complex tales of urban blight, and [Ben] Affleck's Bruce was built to fit into a wider DC universe. The Batman is here just to ensure that Marvel has box office competition."
Other reviews criticize a "weak" final act, including a positive review from Collider's Ross Bonaime. Though the third act "can't help but start to hit the notes one would expect from a superhero film," feeling "tonally at odds with what the rest of the film has done," The Batman as a whole is "the best Batman film since The Dark Knight, with a captivating and rich world that reinvigorates characters we've already seen on screen over and over again."
Read ComicBook's full spoiler-free review and see more social media reactions below. The Batman is playing exclusively in movie theaters on March 4.
#TheBatman is the definitive Batman movie we've been waiting for. A detective film noire with a splash of 90's grunge aesthetics, @mattreevesLA delivers a gripping complex narrative that forces you to pay attention. No one else but Robert Pattinson could have been this Batman! pic.twitter.com/ZGTxeLOjrA— The Batman Film News 🦇 (@TheBatmanFilm_) February 28, 2022
I never thought I would see a Batman movie like #TheBatman: an actual detective story, methodically paced, dripping with atmosphere, modestly stylish. And it's sort of incredible to look at. @GreigFraser_dp and @mattreevesLA have crafted an aesthetic at once evocative and unique. pic.twitter.com/xSAPUDZrQF— Kris Tapley (@kristapley) February 28, 2022
Cinema of a spectacular order, #TheBatman’s the most artistically stunning CBM ever made, Matt Reeves wows with a sprawling detective tale showcasing the magnificence of Greig Fraser, bathing Gotham in an amber glow, Robert Pattinson owns the brooding Batman, WB has a winner—9.5 pic.twitter.com/FpZN7oVNBG— EW (@ErickWeber) February 28, 2022
WOW. #TheBatman is the BEST crafted Batman film of ALL TIME. Robert Pattinson is PERFECT for the role & Matt Reeves’ direction shines with all departments firing on all cylinders. A masterful technical achievement that becomes one of the greatest comic book movies of all time pic.twitter.com/ROIOCKExkQ— Diego Andaluz (@thediegoandaluz) February 28, 2022
I've seen #TheBatman and it is a ferocious detective drama punctuated by moments of incredibly visceral action. Matt Reeves' direction is dark, deep, intense & flooded w/ instantly iconic imagery. A live-action BATMAN movie unlike any we've seen. Brilliant & badass. BIG recommend pic.twitter.com/SreOnnFnHC— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) February 28, 2022
#TheBatman will go down as one of the best comicbook films in a long time. The script, performances, set pieces, & visual storytelling was phenomenal. Robert Pattinson shines as an emotional brooding Batman next to Paul Dano's terrifying Riddler. Matt Reeves' modern masterpiece. pic.twitter.com/FBoQmjLzJs— Duane Miller (@Cinemaniac94) February 28, 2022
My initial thoughts after watching #TheBatman. I already want to see it again. Everyone in this film is perfection. They really do push that PG-13 rating. So many tense moments. It was everything I wanted. Robert Pattinson IS Batman. pic.twitter.com/AaO7Xsbod5— Michelle Reed (@MichelleNReed) February 28, 2022
For those asking: I give it 10/10 #TheBatman Year 2 of Batman is raw, emotional, realistic, and violent…What a Batman! Robert killed it 🔥The Penguin & the Riddler were AMAZING! Selina was portrayed as it always should have been! WATCH IT ON THE BIG SCREEN!!! WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!— Lis.Wonder🇨🇺 #SOSCUBA (@LisWonder1) February 28, 2022