10 Best The Batman Moments

2. I’m Vengeance

“They think I’m hiding in the shadows. But I am the shadows.”

Our first time seeing The Batman is so important because it is also our first time seeing this version of Gotham. The scene is narrated in voiceover by the Bat himself, as it cuts between Batman being summoned by the Bat Signal and the various criminals wreaking havoc on Halloween night. Crime is everywhere, around every corner, but the power and mythos of the Bat means that he could also be around every corner. As the Bat Signal lights up the sky, lowly criminals scatter, fearing for their lives. We follow a particular group of thugs, faces painted like skulls for Halloween, as they follow a man off the subway with the intent of physically assaulting him. One member of the group, whose face is only half painted, is being pressured into throwing the first punch. He seems unsure, only half convinced just as he is half-painted. From the shadows, The Batman emerges, his footsteps echoing against the wet concrete. The face-painted thugs begin to sneer at him until he beats one of them into the ground and they realise that he is the shadowy figure they have all heard whisperings of, the myth of The Batman.

This is our Batman. Not quite a hero yet, but certainly an enemy to the criminals in Gotham. He is such a young Batman, only having done it for two years. His black boots look almost ordinary, suggesting that even his suit is still in the early days of development. His voice tells us how he functions within Gotham, but it also comes across like a pep-talk for himself, like he is laying down the law (or lore) of The Batman. This movie is visually and tonally very dark, and this introduction sets the film up to be just that. It wastes no time letting us know that this Batman is something to be feared, and that this Gotham is rampant with crime. In any Batman movie, it is important to understand what kind of city Gotham is. It’s not New York or London, it is its own fictional city, which means it has the freedom to be bigger than reality. Where this movie might aim to tackle the villains in a more realistic way, the city of Gotham has a dark fantasy to it, a sort of shadowy cloak masking it. This Gotham is dark and wet and characterised by crime – the perfect setting for a morally grey hero.

There is a moment, just as Batman begins to introduce himself, where we are not sure who he is. He isn’t wearing his suit and he hasn’t mentioned any defining details about himself. The scene just before this shows us The Riddler for the first time (a character who similarly emerges from the shadows to attack someone), so for all we know this could be the man we just watched beat someone to death. It is only a small moment, but it sets up the rest of the film – going forward there are so many moments where The Riddler and The Batman are purposefully compared. This speaks of the corruption in Gotham, and the morality of The Batman, but it also helps to set up The Riddler as a fan of Batman, a person who can identify with The Batman’s ideals.

This is such a strong opening, thickly layering on the dark qualities of the city, as well as the qualities of our protagonist, straight from the mouth of the Bat himself. There are so many strong Batman introductions in previous Batman movies, such as Michael Keaton’s mysterious entrance in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), but Robert Pattinson’s is arguably the best. The Batman tells us straight away who this Batman is and how he acts as a being of terror in Gotham City.

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1. Visiting The Riddler

“What’s black and blue and dead all over? You… if you think you can stop what’s coming.”

The best moment in The Batman takes place in the iconic Arkham Asylum. The Riddler has been arrested and that should mean justice has been served, but that is unfortunately not how things work in Gotham. Per The Riddler’s request, Batman goes to visit him.

The scene opens with a shutter being raised, revealing the frail figure of The Riddler, whose real identity has yet to be discovered. He smiles a small excited smile at the sight of The Batman, who stays in the shadows whilst Riddler begins to reveal what he knows. This is the moment everything has been deteriorating towards – as Riddler says to Batman, “I told you I’d see you in hell.” Riddler has all of the power, despite being handcuffed and behind bars. He begins to say the words that stop everything in its tracks: “Bruce Wayne”. We can see Batman’s heart sink into the pit of his stomach, and we can feel ours do the same. He says it again. Then… again. It is a brilliant moment, Paul Dano making the most of every second as he draws out the words. Does The Riddler know who Batman is?

The Riddler continues, explaining how terrible his upbringing was as an orphan, spiting Bruce Wayne for getting all the sympathy when he was a millionaire; an orphan in the lap of luxury. The dread continues for so long, Batman seeming so small all of a sudden. Only when Riddler concludes his point can we come to believe that he doesn’t know the identity of the Caped Crusader and we are allowed time to catch our breath. It is also only then that our version of The Batman is able to reascertain dominance in their verbal exchange.

Batman’s meeting with The Riddler in Arkham is a moment of great power play and control. Riddler requested his presence, and when the Batman arrives it is revealed that Riddler admires him and, most importantly, that he was under the impression that they were working together. He details to Batman that he was the brains and the Bat was the brawn, and that everything had been orchestrated for the Bat to do all of the work for The Riddler. It is almost upsetting to watch Batman reveal to him that none of it was true, as it sends Riddler into a crazed panic. In a film where the hero is so ambiguous, where people fear him, it’s deeply meaningful that the main villain sees so much of himself in him. Two men who use masks to fight for justice – Riddler can’t tell the difference. Most importantly, the plot twists are delicious. Something new seems to be revealed each moment – Riddler knows who the Batman is, then he doesn’t, then he reveals he planned everything so they could work together, and finally that there is something else that he has planned. We have spent the whole movie searching for this man, wondering why he would do all of this, and the payoff is more than worth the wait. He is a crazy, chaotic little man – but most of all, he is hurt. It is almost sad to watch Batman berate him and tell him he is a pathetic psychopath. Something in him is still just an orphaned boy who needs to feel seen.

Paul Dano was perfectly cast for this role. His performance is entirely believable, making every syllable of his monologue seem like the most important thing to ever come out of his mouth. The rhythm of his voice, of his building despair, makes the scene a piece of art to marvel at. But this is a confrontation of exceptional filmmaking prowess, all of its pieces – the steadily paced cuts between the two characters, the gentle chime of ‘Ave Maria’ in the background, and the pace with which they volley their lines – making for a rhythmic treasure. 

This is truly the greatest moment in The Batman. Paul Dano and Robert Pattinson both bring so much to their performances, so many quietly powerful glances and movements. It is endlessly quotable and unforgettable – this is the true climax of the movie, the meeting of two sides of the same coin, two orphans who both hide behind a mask and strive for justice. The film does not at any point explicitly tell us that Batman and Bruce Wayne need to keep their identities separate, but there is the textual significance of his identity as Batman protecting him from attacks on Bruce Wayne, and the metatextual significance of other Batmen having to keep their identities secret. So when Riddler begins to say his real name, it comes across like it’s the end of the world, like a huge threat. This scene is also referential of the Joker and Batman interrogation scene in The Dark Knight (2008), which is often referenced as one of the great moments in arguably the greatest superhero movie of all time. Power dynamics in interrogation scenes are vitally important in all moralistic detective films, but particularly in this one – Batman hasn’t been put in a situation like this at all in this movie until this point, making this conversation all the more threatening, all the more scary, and all the more riveting.

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Every moment on this list is important to the general brilliance of The Batman. It is a film that stands out in new and exciting ways whilst also paying tribute to all those films which came before it. Which moment is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to follow @thefilmagazine on Facebook and X (Twitter) for more insightful movie lists.

Written by Holly Carter

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