Riddle me this: What’s lime green, red, and black? The home release discs for director Matt Reeves’s “The Batman.”

I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

– Revelation 6:8, New International Version

Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Batman has been a stable character of DC Comics since March 30th, 1939, and is now considered one member of the trinity of the comics house (Wonder Woman and Superman making up the other two). Batman is a tragic figure: an orphan who uses the unsolved murder of his lost parents as the fuel to ensure that he can save as many innocents as possible, riding his city, Gotham City, of the villains who would do harm. Before now, there have been seven actors to play Batman and his alter ego, millionaire Bruce Wayne, on the big screen across 11 theatrical releases and none of them have explored the budding hero in the way that co-writer/director Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes) and co-writer Peter Craig (The Town) do in their story, The Batman. Here, there’s no clear delineation between the Bruce or Batman identities; instead, there is only a wound, festering and pulsing with rage, much like the city itself. After a widely celebrated theatrical release, The Batman is ready to come home for good, jam-packed with over two hours of bonus features that offer the kind of behind the scenes information that inspire awe in Batman fans, cinephiles, and general fans alike.

If you’re interested in learning about The Batman in a spoiler-free context, I recommend jumping over to the spoiler-free theatrical release review. Moving forward, we’ll be digging into everything so tread carefully.


L-R: Robert Pattinson and director Matt Reeves on the set in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure THE BATMAN, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Halloween night in Gotham City. Citizens gather in costumes and capes on the city streets, pretending to be heroes and villains in a harmless game of trick or treat. Among them, however, exist two combating forces: one of vengeance and one of justice. Dressed in handmade uniforms, one patrols Gotham looking for anyone who violates the sanctity of another, while the other brutally targets Mayor Don Mitchell, Jr. (Rupert Penry-Jones). As more bodies of prominent Gotham City government officials fall, each a victim of a person identified only as The Riddler (Paul Dano), the lies of the city’s elite come into the light. With each new victim, a different note is left for the vigilante known as The Batman (Robert Pattinson), prompting the lead on the case, Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), to invite The Batman to take part in the investigation. As the pair try to solve each of Riddler’s puzzles, they find themselves going deeper into the belly of Gotham’s worst secret…a secret which may unravel The Batman in the process.

Having revisited the film, it’s much easier to understand how The Batman functions simultaneously as a cape film and as a thematic exploration of what rage with no direction can do to someone. As a cape film, there’s a great deal of superheroing: saving innocents, trying to prevent additional victims, solving clues. All of this, though, is executed with the darker tinge of a noir. It’s not just Batman’s journaling or that the majority of the film takes place either at night, in the rain, or both (an implication all its own that no matter how much Gotham gets washed, it’s never clean), it’s also how this version of the character saves lives with a specific worldview of “if you cross the line into villainy, no matter how much or little, you deserve what you get.” So even when he saves someone, like the innocent citizen being accosted by a random Gotham gang, he does it with such brute force that even the person he saves is afraid of The Batman. When discussing missing woman Annika (Hana Hrzic) with her friend Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), Batman doesn’t see Annika as a victim of circumstance, but as someone who made choices to live a lifestyle in which this is the accepted possibility of her end. Traditionally, Batman is viewed as DC Comics’s bag man, the person that swallows evil so that no one else has to shoulder the responsibility and become tainted by the consumption. He maintains his purity because he acts with appropriate violence, as well as tenderness, providing opportunities of redemption and rehabilitation to those who honestly seek it. As created for the film by Reeves and Craig, this Batman is only two years into the gig and he’s neither the world’s greatest detective nor the dashing playboy. We meet him having figured out how to develop his weaponry and tactics, but clearly hasn’t curated the worldly skills that audiences/readers understand The Batman to possess. Instead, their version of him is without a clear identity, only possessing rage and hurt, using both to punish those he considers villains without a single thought beyond instilling fear. This is not a Batman who can take out the Justice League, let alone defeat this Riddler (let’s face it, this Batman gets beat and can only manage clean-up) for he can’t see past the fight immediately in front of him. This is what makes The Baman a fascinating watch as we learn, as this Batman does, just how far he has yet to go to become the positive force of change he seeks to be.


Robert Pattinson as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure THE BATMAN, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

If I may deviate for a moment, one of the best aspects, one that less time is spend exploring directly but is part of the larger theme of self-delusion that’s shared by Gotham City itself, Batman, and Riddler, is the sheer caucasity of it all. When Batman makes his comment about Annika, Selina responds with an appropriately curt, “Jesus Christ, choices? You know, whoever the hell you are, you obviously grew up rich.” Before the scene wraps, Selina also references “white privilege,” speaking specifically about the victims thus far and how deserving they are of what Riddler is doing to them. As we learn, Selina is the child of someone who worked at Penguin’s club 440 Below, got pregnant by Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and was abandoned by him when her mother died (though it’s not clear if he knew she was his daughter or not by the time the film ends). Her rage is at her absentee father, making it specific and singular. Additionally, she’s learned skills to survive and protect herself, rather than to use said skills to harm others. By contrast, Riddler, also an orphan, uses his rage at the treatment he endured as a child and adult as the fuel to unmask those in power who have raided the public good for personal gain. He does this with, from his perspective, good intent, yet his methods are lethal and offer a temporary justice with no ability to actually fix things. He’s lashing out, seeking to hurt as he’s been hurt. This makes him the perfect foil for this iteration of Batman as they are identical. They have no plan beyond the immediate, using their personal pain as an excuse to harm others. These two, Batman and Riddler, could use their gifts to inspire, to improve life, to expose truths with the possibility of turning the tide of corruption in Gotham, yet would rather self-flagelate and self-satisfy rather than deal with their shit. Unsurprisingly, Selina, of the three, is the most put together, the most capable, and she has (by contrast via the brief glimpse of what we know of her) far less than Riddler or Batman as a support system. Why do the work of dealing with your trauma when you can cause pain instead? It’s a small detail that may go unnoticed amid the more prominent imagery of Batman as Death, the rider of the pale horse at the front of the apocalypse, or the discussion of what legacy means (in the wake of death or by the consequence of one’s actions), but one which deserves some discussion. White rage leads to more terrorist acts in the United States, born out of a sense of insecurity, fueled by a false sense of replacement and loss of control. In a way, the final confrontation of the film, Riddler’s followers attacking newly-elected mayor Bella Reál (Jayme Lawson), can be directly connected to the MAGA and QAnon way of thinking, similarly fueled by lies that prey on the insecurity of white fragility.


L-R: Director Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson on the set in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure THE BATMAN, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Enormous credit to Reeves and Craig for crafting a script that isn’t afraid to go to the darker sides of the Batman mythology to create a story that’s resonant with today’s audiences. This Batman doesn’t know yet who he is as a vigilante (neither the bag man nor the philanthropist) and this script even goes so far as to imply that this Bruce/Batman is suffering from a genetic mental break. As exposed by Riddler, Bruce’s mother, Martha (Stella Stocker), was not only an Arkham, but suffered from some kind of psychological issue. In comic’s lore, Arkham Asylum has its own notorious past connected to both the people who founded it being a tad broken themselves and the asylum’s purpose as a place where rehabilitation is the public face but is rarely ever successful. By reinterpreting Martha as both an Arkham and a patient at the asylum, Bruce is reframed not just as a traumatized orphan, but as someone who likely should receive a more current evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. It makes the scenes with Riddler, when the two come face-to-face, take on a different feel as the camera is positioned so that we, the audience, primarily see Batman from Riddler’s perspective (i.e. through the glass) making him look as much like a possible patient as Riddler now is. Of course, we do get some closeups and perspective shots for Batman which make it clear that he’s the visitor not the new resident, yet the implication is there. This is a bold move, one which I hope isn’t ignored in the newly announced The Batman 2. Seeds have been planted that are far more interesting than a new Joker could ever be (you’re awesome Barry Keoghan and I can’t wait to see what you do with the character, but Craig and Reeves have set up a new version of Hush, a.k.a. Thomas Elliot, and I want to see that play out).

Details are everything in The Batman and for all the things we, as audiences catch, there’s plenty more we don’t. I’m not talking about easter eggs and hidden references; I mean within the film itself. That’s where the bevy of bonus features come in. There are roughly 126 minutes of bonus features included with the 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and digital editions of The Batman, each with their own specific focus and with very little overlap. There are so many special features included that they get their own lime green disc, while the movie is kept on either a red Blu-ray disc or a Black 4K UHD disc. As Warner Bros. Home Entertainment kindly provided the 4K UHD edition for home review, I do not know what color the DVD is. What I do know, beyond their colors, is that each featurette (averaging seven minutes among the nine brief featurettes) elects to dig into a specific topic with clear focus. “Looking for Vengeance” offers insight into the casting process of the film, including a look at the chemistry read between Pattinson and Kravitz. Want to know how Kravitz prepared for her role, as well as the inspiration for her look as Selina? You’ll want to check out “Becoming Catwoman.” Perhaps you’re a gearhead or just want to know more about the Batmobile — you’ll want to check out both “The Batmobile” and “Anatomy of the Car Chase,” as each offer insight into the technical/thematic side of the Batmobile and how they used it in the film (spoiler alert: they built four fully functioning vehicles and all but confirm that this version is an e-car in the in-world mythos). Maybe you’re wondering about the wingsuit sequence — go straight toward “Anatomy of the Wingsuit Jump” where Reeves walks you through the conception of the idea, even offering some pre-vis of the concept, amid explanations of how they achieved the sequence for the film. As a huge fan of Colin Farrell’s rendition of Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot/The Penguin, “A Transformation: The Penguin” was not only illuminating from a technical perspective (Farrell recounts a hilarious story of how cinematographer Greig Fraser marveled at the prosthetics work when he did a light test on it), but we get to see Farrell in-character off-set improvising with the folks recording the featurette. Each of the included nine featurettes not only highlights every section of creation — cast, VFX, costuming, stunt work, writing, score — but makes it clear just how much in-camera work Reeves achieved, making the final product look as close to real as possible. Of course, if these shorter featurettes don’t have enough behind the scenes material for you, there’s always the 53-minute “Vengeance in the Making” that’ll take you through an even deeper dive than the rest, including a look at how COVID-19 impacted shooting from delays, changes in approach, and the loss of a crew member.

Being that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment was kind enough to send a 4K UHD disc, and Fraser’s cinematography and Michael Giacchino’s score are such prominent portions of the film, I will speak on the home reproduction briefly. Regarding the sound, there is a Dolby Atmos track on both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray disc. As I don’t have an Atmos set-up, I selected the Dolby Digital 5.1 track for the 4K disc and it was nearly as immersive as the theatrical experience. Even though the dialogue is often quiet in its whispered delivery, everything spoken came cleanly through the center speaker, the balance on the ambient sounds, motion, and score was perfect. The only issue I had in my viewing was external as having the volume set for the most optimum experience kept waking our 18-month-old on the other side of my wall. Given that he slept through recent home viewings of RoboCop (1987) and 13 Assassins (2010) without issue felt strangely personal (been waiting for this rewatch for months), but even adjusting the volume to lower levels didn’t diminish the viewing experience too badly. As for the picture, this is a movie built for 4K as Reeves’s selected lenses, like the Arri Alexa LF, shoot in native 4K, requiring no transfer for tinkering to achieve the desired 4K quality through upscaling. This combined with using in-camera techniques translates to a more realistic image in the final presentation. A great example of this is in the opening introduction to Batman himself, the narration explaining how the light shining in the sky has now become a warning to criminals that Batman could be anywhere. When he finally makes his appearance, loudly stomping his way out of the shadows, the blank of the letterbox above and below the film perfectly matches the darkness levels of the alley Batman appears from. Impressively, though so much of the film takes place at night, the cinematography and costume design work together to ensure that there’s no other color matching so that Batman himself doesn’t disappear unless it’s specifically intended (like his initial introduction and other scenes). The only time in the entire film in which the wall of fiction is broken is in the torchbearer sequence as Batman guides Gothamities through the water of the area by red flarelight. In this scene, the reproduction has a clear halo circling Batman and others in the wideshot from above, appearing like a visual artifact rather than an intentional image. Beyond this singular issue, the rest of the 4K UHD home reproduction captures the theatrical design perfectly.

On a rewatch, a lot of the issues in my initial viewing stood out to me far less. Perhaps it’s because my expectations were shifted from “what will this experience be” to “I know what this is,” allowing myself to be more open as I knew where the beats and turns would land. Frankly, the film not only holds up but gets better. The levels of ideas become more visible once the “shock” of the narrative, the newness, and the need to compare it against other Batman films are gone. What remains is a fascinating exploration of trauma and the unhealthy ways in which it can gnarl us until there’s little left remaining. It also, very pointedly, shows that there can be many truths, each correct in their own way, each very wrong in their own way, but they all are true, even if not fact. What we do with our truth is what matters. Will we allow it to consume us until there’s nothing left or will we look to the future? Legacy is a giant aspect of The Batman. Traditionally, it’s a seed you plant that you may not live to see grow. In the case of Reeves and Craig’s script, legacy can also be something you take charge of, with them asking the characters if they want to create a legacy of help or one of hurt? Both are options. Both are explored through a variety of characters with each one giving explanations, posing a very powerful question to the audience: which one would you choose? The answer may just surprise you.

The Batman 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and digital Special Features

  • Looking for Vengeance (4:58)
  • The Batman: Genesis (6:09)
  • Vengeance Meets Justice (8:05)
  • Becoming Catwoman (8:37)
  • The Batmobile (10:51)
  • Anatomy of the Car Chase (6:09)
  • Anatomy of the Wingsuit Jump (6:29)
  • Vengeance In The Making (53:40)
  • Unpacking the Icons (5:47)
  • A Transformation: The Penguin (7:59)
  • Two (2) Deleted Scenes with Director’s Commentary (7:47)
  • Feature-length commentary with director Matt Reeves (2:56:12)

The Batman DVD  Special Features

  • Unpacking the Icons (5:47)

Available on digital-to-own and streaming on HBO Max April 18th, 2022.
Available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD May 24th, 2022.

For more information, head to the official The Batman website.

Categories: Films To Watch, Home Release, Recommendation

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: