In case you didn't get the memo, after many years of service to the Warner Bros. coffers, Batman has been promoted to The Batman. I hear he didn’t get a raise—or even a third week of vacation!—but was satisfied and gratified just to join the exclusive showbiz pantheon of The Rock, The Boss, The King (whose own Warner Bros. flick is coming in June) and, if you want to go back even further, The Schnozz, anointed with the article.
As I say, Batman was very good at making money for his corporate masters, but borderline incompetent and profoundly unhappy at his ostensible day job. Once upon a time, he took pleasure in breaking up street crimes in progress and bow-tieing crooks for the cops to collect. But like many a former criminal-justice idealist, the caped crusader has become a rainmaker, and a chronically depressed one at that.
What’s that, you say? The Batman is not a Warner Bros. employee and, in fact, works for no one? Oh, you poor benighted sap. He’s part of the Deep State. How else can you explain how Bruce Wayne has avoided being exposed as The Batman by (pick one) TMZ, Peter Thiel, Teen Vogue, Lesley Stahl or Highlights?
But I digress. The insular personal obsession and downward career spiral of everyone’s most relatable dime-store do-gooder—the only one without a superpower, if you don’t count net worth—has brought us to this point: The unrelentingly tedious, three-hour Drive My Batmobile—excuse me, The Batman—is neither a garish comic-book movie nor a spirit-raising superhero movie but a slobbering study of a miserable millionaire’s midlife crisis.
Jack Lemmon is playing The Batman in the afterlife, but in our universe the part falls to Robert Pattinson. Not that it matters which tormented chin is behind the mask; this year’s model is asked to play one note, an earnest, dull monotone, ad nauseum. I can’t imagine that director Matt Reeves is a disciple of Robert Bresson, but the late French filmmaker’s penchant for wringing all the affect and emotion from his actors’ line readings has never been replicated so faithfully (and I’m not forgetting cyborg Arnold Schwarzenegger and android Harrison Ford).