If you’re in the mood for a Batman which serves largely as an Older Millennial response to Christopher Nolan’s Gen X Batman, have I got the Emo Robert Pattinson for you.
“Underneath the bridge
Tarp has sprung a leak
And the animals I’ve trapped
Have all become my pets
And I’m living off of grass
And the drippings from the ceiling
It’s okay to eat fish
Cause they don’t have any feelings”
– Something in the Way, Nirvana
Director Matt Reeves was inspired by Something in the Way while creating this movie, as he told Esquire. “Early on, when I was writing, I started listening to [‘Something in the Way’]…which is part of the voice of that character. When I considered, ‘How do you do Bruce Wayne in a way that hasn’t been seen before?’ … His drug is his addiction to this drive for revenge. He’s like a Batman Kurt Cobain.”
This is a trauma-informed Batman that interacts with most of the imagery we’ve gotten from Nolan Bat (which, in turn, heavily drew upon Frank Miller Bat) and takes an emotional approach to the reasoning behind all events. More than that, Traumatized RBattz is trying to heal from it without knowing he’s trying to heal from it, confronting his family’s legacy and literally punching his way through his issues.
It would be easy to do this traumatized Bat and leave it there, but Matt Reeves also offers Emo Batman a path to healing, and a light that shines on that path, in the form of a foil: the Riddler wrought as a serial killer who was inspired to madness by much of the same trauma which brought Batman here. The Riddler is the mirror RBattz needs to realize he’s losing himself – and he needs to choose to help, rather than hurt in the hopes the hurt will help someone someday.
This is not unlike the work that Millennials have done as younger siblings of our irony loving Gen X elders. Nolan’s Batman gets closest to healing by simply walking away from everything – very much an “eff this shizz, this will never get better for me” attitude that seems appropriately cynical for the era. But our Millennial Emo Batman has stepped into adulthood and realized, “Hecc, I need to do something about my trauma where I’m at. I need to face it and do the thing.” Then he leaves the Riddler heartbroken and screaming in Arkham, and he carries the people of Gotham out of the wreckage of their shared grief into sunrise, because he’s decided he’s That Kind of Batman.
It’s pretty cool and I cackle every time I see Bruce Wayne in smudged eyeliner.
(Image credit: Warner Bros. This review was originally posted on Letterboxd on Mar 04 2022.)