Why has it taken so long for The Batman to face off against the Man-Bat on the big-screen?
The Batman is finally playing in theatres everywhere and DC fans cannot get enough. And rightly so. On aesthetics alone, it is one of the finest depictions of Gotham’s Caped Crusader so far. But personally, I have mixed feelings about Matt Reeves’ vision. Yes, it was dark. Yes, it was broody, violent, and packed full of blissfully glorious cinematography. But when we strip the noir detective story back to its core, did the Caped Crusader cement his status as the world’s greatest detective as Matt Reeves intended?
To get a definitive answer, we must strip away the vengeance, gadgets, and sadistic villains and explore the tale of the tape. Reeves’ vision begins with Gotham City in despair, with only the mysterious Batman on hand to stem the tide and strike at the criminal element infesting the city. Which is the perfect jumping-off point. The basics are well and truly covered. Next, we meet our newest Caped Crusader in all his brilliant best. Sporting a lethal array of fighting prowess and brutality, Pattinson’s Batman is not to be trifled with.
GOTHAM POLICE DEPARTMENT
His relationship with Gotham’s finest is exactly as it should be. Some fear him. Others support him. While the rest just regard him as a freak and a detriment to their efforts against Gotham’s criminal element. If only Harvey Bullock was on hand to stick the landing! Nevertheless, the relationship between Batman and Gotham P.D. is on point. But as soon as the Dark Knight arrives at the scene of Riddler’s latest crime, the world’s greatest detective moniker quickly unravels. And continues to do so for the next three hours.
Now, Batman’s relationship with Jim Gordon is legendary. It comes with unbreakable trust. And that is front and center in Matt Reeves’ movie. But as the film progresses and the duo moves from crime scene to crime scene and riddle to riddle, both prove incapable of deciphering Riddler’s cipher. This point is evidenced when it comes time to solve these enigmas. In the end, it’s actually Bruce Wayne’s faithful Butler Alfred who cracks the code. Sure, Bruce adds the final piece to the cipher puzzle, but it was Alfred taking point on this occasion. Moreover, when Batman and Gordon try to uncover the identity of the rat, it’s The Penguin who points out the obvious clues. Apparently, Bruce Wayne failed Spanish at prep school.
Such a missed opportunity.
THE GREAT DETECTIVE?
Now, throughout the movie, Batman continuously fails to morph into the world’s greatest detective leaving most of the detective work to Alfred, or the criminals he works so tirelessly to apprehend. Which, for me, is the biggest letdown in what is otherwise a great addition to the DC Universe. But now, with both Reeves and Pattinson hinting at a potential sequel, I believe it’s time to bring Batman’s detective abilities to the fore and pit him against a villain he is yet to face on the big screen. One that will force him to utilize the skills he’s been honing on the streets of Gotham for the past two years.
I’ve been longing for a big-screen adaptation of Batman’s struggles with the Man-Bat since Bruce Timm and his team delivered what I regard to be the definitive story in Batman: The Animated Series. In “On Leather Wings”, the Caped Crusader was forced to clear his name when a giant bat beast began a series of thefts from pharmaceutical companies across Gotham. With Batman now that target of a police investigation, the Caped Crusader set about uncovering the truth behind the thefts and the identity of the mysterious bat creature. The result was one of the finest Batman adventures of all time.
The Dark Knight followed the trail of evidence and discovered that Kirk Langstrom was transforming himself into the Man-Bat. A monstrous creature that became self-aware enough to steal the chemicals needed to bring about the permanent change from human to bat.
Now imagine that on the big screen in glorious IMAX!
BIG SCREEN BAT ATTACK
The reason behind the Man-Bat storyline never making the transition to the big screen isn’t a secret. Since the character made the leap to the big screen in 1966 and then 1989, the studio has delivered Batman adventures suitable for the whole family. A broad demographic platform that a mutated bat creature simply doesn’t fit into. In fact, the concept alone is enough to terrify young children and give them nightmares for years. But with Warner Bros. deciding to drag the DC Universe away from its target audience and rake in the cash from an elder demographic; the stage is set for the Man-Bat to make its debut.
Now, with the addition of drug use, blood, torture, and bad language becoming an unwelcome constant under Warner Bros’ watchful eye; nothing is stopping them from delivering a sequel where The Batman has to match his wits against this nightmarish adversary. Moreover, this storyline would easily facilitate Batman’s evolution into a great detective by uncovering the real villain behind the creature. And if handled properly, the adventure could be one of the finest adventures the Caped Crusader has ever been a part of. And that is a victory for DC fans everywhere.
Whether the Man-Bat will ever be called upon to terrorize Gotham City on the big screen remains to be seen. But if Matt Reeves truly wanted to push the envelope and deliver on his promise to portray Batman as the world’s greatest detective, then its inclusion would make for the perfect sequel. And after the events of his first outing which ended with Gotham’s interior being submerged underwater, the stage is set for a winged threat to terrorize the sky. And that would be the Batman movie to end all Batman movies!
Would you like to see The Batman face-off against the Man-Bat? Sound off in the comments section below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The Batman is distributed by Warner Bros. and is playing in theatres now.
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Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force and babbles frequently!