The Batman is a proven success thus far. While there’s no telling whether the Matt Reeves vehicle will reach the billion-dollar club like Spider-Man: No Way Home, it’s safe to assume that the dark knight will biggest success of early 2022. However, while a good portion of critics and fans have praised the latest venture into Gotham City, noticeably Robert Pattinson’s version of Batman and darker take on Edward Nashton aka The Riddler, a lot of negative reviews have criticized The Batman for being too dark. And this isn’t the first time that a Batman film has been hit with the “it’s too dark” criticism. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice was heavily attacked because of its tone. In fact, reportedly, Warner Brothers forced David Ayer to lighten the tone of Suicide Squad because of the backlash regarding how dark and depressing the movie came across. The Nolan trilogy famously applied the darker tone following a pair of campiness in the earlier live-action adaptation of the DC hero. It makes you wonder, is Batman too dark?
The criticism of saying that The Batman is too dark odd. Is Seven too dark? The ending of that film sees the protagonist straight-up murder the villain after he finds his wife’s head in a box. What about Chinatown? Evelyn Mulwray was shot through her eye and the corruption of the infamous place was allowed to continue as a hysterical Katherine Cross was taken away from the sick bastard that was harming her. Even Joker saw the Prince of darkness shooting Murray Franklin, starting a riot, and walking down the hallway of Arkham Asylum in bloody footprints, indicating that he murdered his therapist. All three movies have their fair share of criticisms, but rarely is one of them for “being too dark”. I won’t go into The Batman spoilers here, but the labeling of these darker versions of Batman doesn’t make much sense because the world of Gotham is traditionally dark. The dark knight has his fair share of goofy villains, but the plethora of villains are psychopaths, murders, assassins, or mob bosses. The Batman himself is more of a serious figure. He’s a rich playboy whose life has been filled with tragedy. He watches his parents die in cold blood and lives in a chaotic place where death could be around the corner. Not every comic book film needs to be light-hearted and fun like Marvel.
For those who hated Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, do you think that the film would be better if it was filled with sarcastic quips, hilarious gags, and one-liners? How did that work out for Justice League? Here’s the thing, sometimes tone matters; the issue with tone was notable in the Fantastic Four reboot with Michael B. Jordan. The problem is that the powers of the comic book heroes are too goofy to truly thrive in a dark world. The movie was notably suppressed and in turn, stripped Fantastic Four of any sort of personality; Though to be fair, that was one of the many glaring issues with the reboot. Deadpool works as a dark comedy/action film because the leading protagonist is essentially a murderous psychopath with a colorful personality. Making Deadpool a dark and serious film would be a mistake because it would actually betray the personality of his character because it’s suppressing Deadpool’s true nature.
Can future Batman films be humorous? Maybe. Admittedly, I haven’t watched any of the Batman features prior to Batman Begins so I can’t tell whether he works in a more comedic tone. I understand that the Adam West versions are extremely campy, as well as the Joel Schumacher films, but just because those films have a lighter and heroic tone doesn’t mean that the newer versions need to be. X-Men for the most part has danced between light and serious; however, Logan is the darkest film in the X-Men canon. The crazy thing is it works perfectly for the character and the world that’s being portrayed. Logan is actually the best X-Men movie to date (in my opinion of course). If the tone doesn’t match a certain film then it should be called out. Can you imagine Seven as a light-hearted comedy? Or Silence of the Lambs as an enchanted romantic comedy between Clarice and Hannibal Lecter? However, the issue with The Batman is certainly not the tone and it’s confusing that this criticism is thrown at the film. Opinions are subjective and critics and fans are allowed to feel whatever they want, but The Batman doesn’t need humor to be good.