10 Best The Batman Moments

5. The Riddler Strikes

“This city’s been renewing for 20 years. Look where it’s gotten us.”

Big red text fills the screen. It reads ‘THE BATMAN’. But it isn’t The Batman who we first meet. Instead, the film opens outside a stately home. We can see a young boy in a costume, and he playfully attacks who we imagine is his father. “Ave Maria” is playing gently as we watch the young boy leave with his mother. Cut to the inside of his house, where the father watches the television alone. We learn that this is the Mayor, as he watches a clip from his final debate before the upcoming election. We have barely pieced together who this man is before he steps off screen and everything changes. The light of the TV illuminates the room and we see that there is a masked figure standing in the back. He stands dead still, the Mayor pacing back and forth on the phone. After a small conversation, The Mayor hangs up and turns the TV off. The silence is deafening. He takes a sip of his drink and the masked figure lets out a huge yell and strikes the Mayor across the head with a heavy weapon.

This is our introduction to The Riddler, the main antagonist. His scene is used as a type of precursor to what we’ll see soon from The Batman – he exists in the shadows, dons a unique costume, and he enacts vengeance. The Riddler lunges forward with a sense of disarray here, striking wildly and without precision. We know at once that he is inexperienced but angry, and this sets the tone for the whole movie. He acts in one moment with rage and chaos, and in the next with slow breaths and methodical movements. It is unclear whether his deep breaths suggest worry or fear at never having killed before, or if it suggests a perverted pleasure at the idea of what he has begun. He sits atop the mayor and grabs a roll of tape from his belt. As he pulls a stretch of tape off, a crack of thunder sounds and the scene cuts away. What happens next is The Riddler’s business.

The use of “Ave Maria” as the opening song for the film, and subsequently as The Riddler’s theme (presented in a minor key) has interesting biblical implications. The song was inspired by the passage of the bible in which the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she is going to give birth to the Son of God. The words “Ave Maria” translate to Hail Mary. It is a song about something that is coming. The Riddler believes he is cleaning up Gotham, and righting the wrongs of the city – he believes he is the Jesus of Gotham. The minor key instrumental suggests a subversion of the meaning of the song. It could reflect how the corruption in Gotham is so terrible that there can’t possibly be a God, or how The Riddler is living with a distorted vision of himself.

At the time of The Batman’s release, there has only ever been one other big-screen interpretation of The Riddler, and that is Jim Carrey’s eccentric portrayal in Batman Forever (1995). Carrey brought comedy and chaos to the role – as Carrey often does – and developed an iconic and recognisable Riddler. The Batman takes the character in a completely different direction, most obviously with the dark nature of the character but also with the decision to keep him anonymous for most of the film. It could be argued that this version is the more in-depth of the two, even with the mask on. The nature of the movie as a detective thriller means that we get to keep peeling back the layers to the Riddler, even beyond his unmasking. Dano’s Riddler is worth every second of screen time, and it is his performance that primarily makes for a fantastically gripping opening scene.

Recommended for you: Matt Reeves Movies Ranked

4. Funeral Crasher

“This is so much bigger than you could ever imagine.”

In a rare instance for this film, Bruce Wayne makes an appearance in public. He is attending the funeral of the Mayor, who was killed earlier by The Riddler. Everyone knows who Bruce Wayne is, and everyone wants to talk to him. As he stands amongst the wealthy and powerful, the distant screeching of tyres can be heard. Hundreds of heads look around in worry, as the screeching and revving continues, getting louder. A car comes crashing through the doors and rolls through people – it is terrifying. We witness the real-time reactions of everyone, particularly Bruce leaping to save the Mayor’s son. Gil Coulson (Peter Sarsgaard) steps out of the car, arms raised and whimpering, with a bomb around his neck. There is a ringing phone strapped to his hand and a note taped to his chest. It is addressed to The Batman.

There is a great sense of unease from the moment Bruce arrives. Bruce can’t let himself relax, and his discomfort at being himself is palpable. He is constantly searching for clues and answers, and he is never detached from his alternative persona. When people talk to him, he is distracted.

The choir above the funeral are singing “Ave Maria”, a call back to the song playing at the beginning of the movie when the Mayor was killed. It creates a sense of unease and foreshadows Riddler’s presence at the funeral. The power of this scene is that the tension has been building from the beginning, and that when the car can be heard approaching it almost feels inevitable, like we have been expecting its arrival. 

So often the hero saves the day. Movies like Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) feature nail-biting bomb defusal scenes, where they miraculously stop it from going off at the very last second. They do amazing work in terms of building up the tension, but they have also trained us to believe that they will always save the day eventually. Not in this film. The Gotham of The Batman is so corrupt that even though Coulson knew what he needed to say to stop the timer and save himself, it wasn’t worth sacrificing his family’s lives for. The bomb goes off and we are thrown into a moment of shock as The Batman goes flying. This isn’t supposed to happen.

This scene enters new territory within the film, putting Bruce Wayne out in the world and giving us our first look at how he functions in society. Where in previous iterations Bruce Wayne has been a philanthropist, a prominent public figure, who has hosted balls at Wayne Manor and also been a bit of a womaniser, The Batman’s Bruce Wayne is a recluse, spending most of his time as The Batman, or hidden away in the Batcave. This Bruce wears his trauma when he isn’t wearing the mask, bringing a whole new interpretation of the millionaire ‘playboy’ to the big screen. For those reasons, this scene is one of the most important for fans of the duality of the man and the bat, particularly considering there is so much more focus on Batman than Bruce in this movie.

Recommended for you: Live-Action Batmen Ranked

3. Enter The Iceberg Lounge

“Take it easy, sweetheart. You looking for me?”

Batman finds himself at the Iceberg Lounge, Penguin’s club. The two identical bouncers at the door (possibly a reference to Tweedledee and Tweedledum from the Batman comics) deny even knowing about The Penguin, and refuse entry to The Batman – but this doesn’t stop him. He beats his way through the bouncers, he walks straight through the crowd of people (who turn their heads to look at him like he is scum, not a threat – maybe because he isn’t well known enough, so he just looks like a freak in a silly costume to them), he heads towards the pulsing red lights of the club, and he begins a mass brawl. Batman beats down one goon after another, absorbing the shock of a gunshot with his bulletproof suit and taking out two men at once with the Batclaw. Then, Penguin turns up and stops him.

This is an exceptional method for introducing us to Batman’s capabilities. It is not his first physical fight in the movie, but it is the first time we see him in an unfamiliar environment, one where he might be in real danger. There is a recurring motif of hell in this movie, of Batman descending further and further until he reaches Riddler in Arkham. As he moves deeper into the club, swinging over a ledge to reach the stairs below and beating up anyone who comes near him, Batman goes deeper into the hell of the Iceberg Lounge. The score doesn’t come in at any point – it never feels like a classic superhero fight scene with a rising composition or endless cuts in the edit. The club’s dance track continues to play throughout, and nobody seems to notice the fight is happening until there are gunshots.

This is where we meet Colin Farrell’s Penguin. Until now, he has been as much of a myth as The Batman has been to the people of his hometown. Penguin is charming from the get-go, showing us how he managed to become as powerful as he is. He has clearly heard whispers about Batman, but he makes it clear that he does not feel threatened. Colin Farrell’s interpretation is very different to that of his fellow feature film representative, played by Danny DeVito in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. This Penguin is a man with much more power.

Many people criticised the choice to cast Colin Farrell in this role, asking why they didn’t just cast someone who already looked similar to their vision of The Penguin. But the point of the prosthetics was that the creative team had such a specific vision that they wanted to craft every detail of his face, adding pockmarks and scars, giving his face history. They also researched real penguin features, creating a sort of beak with his side profile and forming his brow to replicate the flightless bird. Farrell completely embodies the crafted character, the attention to detail and charismatic performance doing more than any other filmmaking element to make this an unmissable moment.

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Leave a Comment