‘The Batman’ on HBO Max: Five questions to ponder while watching

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“The Batman” is now officially streaming on HBO Max. DC’s best superhero movie in years is still being shown in theaters and has crossed the $700 million mark in worldwide gross, including over $350 million domestically, but on Monday became part of the new Warner Bros. strategy of its films arriving on HBO Max 45 days after theatrical release. This comes after Warner Bros. released its entire slate of 2021 movies on HBO Max on the same day as theaters due to the global pandemic.

Those fans who may have decided not to see “The Batman” in theaters because of safety concerns can now watch from the comfort of their home while fans who did see the movie in theaters can repeat the experience at any time.

Whether this is your first viewing or the fifth, here are five things to ponder while watching “The Batman” on HBO Max.

Is Robert Pattinson the best Batman ever?

One Batman movie doesn’t make a GOAT Dark Knight, but Pattinson’s strong performance has certainly put him in the conversation. Because Pattinson plays a rookie vigilante going into his second year of crime fighting, he’s a force in the cape and cowl but not yet too interested in being Bruce Wayne. He’s got one of the best Batman voices ever, but when the mask comes off, he can barely stand the sunlight in the morning and isn’t a socialite just yet.

That is by director Matt Reeves’s design — he wants to show a Batman that is still learning the ropes, who doesn’t yet know that a playboy Bruce Wayne person is a tool worth storing in his utility belt. All Batmen are judged by their complete body of work (which, in the cases of Val Kilmer and George Clooney, were singular attempts at bat-glory with only one film each). Given “The Batman’s” stellar box office, Pattinson is almost guaranteed to return to Gotham City for more sequels, with enough hype behind him to possibly do what only one Batman (Christian Bale) has done: reach trilogy status.

Is ‘The Batman’ the sexiest Batman movie ever?

There hasn’t been this much bat-heat on-screen since Michael Keaton was whispering in his bat-voice alongside Kim Basinger (Vicki Vale) and Michelle Pfeiffer (Catwoman) in his two Batman films. No Batman movie may ever top Keaton and Pfeiffer’s masked kiss under the mistletoe in 1992’s “Batman Returns,” but Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman have a bat-cat dynamic that’s just as magnetic and makes any other Batman romance on film seem like it came out of the Adam West era.

How does the Joker fit into this universe?

If it looks like a Joker and sounds like a Joker, it’s a Joker. In a scene that Reeves didn’t release in theaters but instead posted online, we see an unrecognizable Barry Keoghan sitting across from Batman, with the two divided by a glass wall. He’s hideously deformed, with strands of green hair and a creepy laugh. The scene feels like a “Joker Begins” moment.

There’s a history with Batman, given that this Joker mentions an anniversary between the two of them. He’s clearly been burned in an accident. But he’s not ready for his purple suit just yet. Keoghan’s character befriends the Riddler toward the end of “The Batman” and that team-up could come in a sequel, or we could see how this Joker got his scars in one of the many planned HBO Max spinoffs from this new bat-universe.

Could this Batman show up in one of those planned HBO Max spinoffs?

Potential spinoffs from “The Batman” would reportedly focus on the criminal side of Gotham City, with one featuring the Penguin (Colin Farrell) and another centering on Arkham Asylum. A Batman movie isn’t as big a deal if the Dark Knight is constantly available for other series, so an abundance of bat-appearances on HBO Max doesn’t seem in the cards. But if Reeves is overseeing everything, you can never say never. The biggest question is: Are the supporting characters — such as the Penguin, Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), Catwoman — interesting enough to hold their own in a series where Batman isn’t likely to appear?

How does Nirvana fit with ‘The Batman’?

Reeves listened to Nirvana’s “Something in the Way” while writing “The Batman.” The director told The Washington Post that he envisioned Bruce Wayne as a young Kurt Cobain, bursting with talent but not interested in the fame that comes with his special abilities. The song appeared in the trailer for “The Batman” and in the film itself, introducing a new generation of fans to Nirvana’s music. Maybe Reeves will turn to Nirvana’s timeless grunge album, “Nevermind,” once more in future Batman films — with “Come as You Are” serving as a prelude to a Batman vs. Joker battle.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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