Fans are simmering with excitement for The Batman, a blockbuster of epic scale in which Robert Pattinson dons the Dark Knight’s cowl for the first time. Like so much intellectual property these days, it sounds as if this version of Gotham will be as dark and gritty as one could possibly hope — meaning plenty of stylized violence. And while the film isn’t out until early March, I’m already sympathizing with one particular goon who gets his shit wrecked by the Bat.
This shot of Batman knocking out a random thug, then hesitating a moment before he, uh, continues to bash the dude’s face to a pulp, has been featured over and over since the earliest ads for the film premiered. I get that it’s supposed to communicate how savage and brutal a take on the Caped Crusader we’re in for, but after seeing it maybe two dozen times by scrolling through social media, it’s become both funny and sad. I mean damn, Bruce, did you really have to cave his skull in after dealing him a traumatic brain injury? How many times am I going to watch you take out your emotional issues on this poor guy — who probably just robbed a bank or committed some equally cool crime — before I get to see the actual movie? Whew, lad.
I’m reliably informed that the story this time is focused on the Riddler, the Penguin and Catwoman, which seems like more than enough to fill out a comic book thrill ride. But part of me has begun to suspect it’s three full hours of Batman pummeling this lone henchman. Which would be the logical extreme of his brand ever trending toward pure, ferocious vigilantism. And all of a sudden I’m identifying more with the nameless schlub than the so-called “hero.” I imagine him lying there in a puddle, bloodied and unconscious, for hours. I tell myself his fellow gang members will start a GoFundMe for his hospital bills. I want to know that he’s okay.
Bro never even found out who (or what) was squaring up to kick his ass. Maybe Batman should have announced that he’s “vengeance” before putting this low-level felon in a coma. But I’m no expert in this kind of thing. All I can tell you is that if you attend an IMAX screening and hear someone in the audience cry out “Stop, stop, he’s already dead!” at this scene — that’s me, and I’ve reached my absolute limit. Please don’t beat me up for it.