‘The Batman’ Scores Huge Box Office Opening And Critical Comparisons To ‘The Dark Knight’

Is “The Batman” better than “The Dark Knight”?

(Warner Bros.)

The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson as The Caped Crusader and Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, raked in an estimated $128.5 million at the North American box office over the weekend, according to its studio Warner Bros.

It’s the biggest opening of 2022 so far, and one of the most impressive openings ever for a Batman movie. The famously popular cinematic brand has earned more than $5 billion at the worldwide box office since 1989’s original Batman.

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Robert Pattinson in “The Batman” (WarnerMedia)

The Batman–despite being one of the longest superhero movies ever at two hours and 56 minutes–has proved that movies released exclusively in theaters can still crush it at the box office after months of movies streamers like HBO Max dropping movies at the same time as theaters. It has also received critical raves, with an 85% critics score (and 90% audience score) on Rotten Tomatoes.

Veteran movie critic Owen Gleiberman of Variety even suggested that The Batman is better than The Dark Knight, the Christopher Nolan-directed flick that’s widely-considered to be not just the best Batman movie, but also the best comic book movie ever made.

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The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.)

For starters, Gleiberman writes, The Batman is far better than The Dark Knight Rises, the “murky and overblown” Dark Knight sequel.

The Batman” is like the follow-up that “The Dark Knight” should have had. It’s a spectacular movie, with an epic sense of fear and corruption, a hero played more subtly than Batman has ever been played, and a villain worthy of our fascination at the larger malevolence he evokes.

More than that, what’s amazing about “The Batman” is what an exquisitely layered onion of a script it has, and how much further into reality it tips than “The Dark Knight” did. Robert Pattinson’s Batman truly stalks through Gotham like a freak in a hellbent Halloween costume — the film is set two years into his midnight reign, when he’s just becoming notorious as a vigilante. In a weird way, it manages the minor miracle of letting us see the character, after so many blockbuster incarnations, as if he were unprecedented.

Gleiberman adds that while The Dark Knight is “still the greatest comic book movie I’ve ever seen” The Batman might even be better.

But “The Batman” is something else, more like the greatest movie that also just happens to be a comic-book movie. (I’m not counting “Joker” in all this, because that film, much as I adore it, is its own non-comic-book thing.) “The Batman” allows us to revel in the presence of the Batman, with his Phantom of the Belfry cape whooshing behind him — a crime-fighter who declares “I’m vengeance” because for a while that’s all he is.

He’s policing a world that’s in tatters; even the Bat signal seems stitched together out of shards. But the beauty of the movie isn’t just in how dark it gets, but in how mesmerizingly it hones in on the meaning of that darkness. “The Batman” leads us in — and out — of a vortex. I predict it will have no problem breaking the awards barrier (and maybe winning best picture), because even more than “The Dark Knight” it channels the scalding miasma of the here and now. It’s dark enough to touch who we’ve become.

The Batman has little comic book-inspired competition anytime soon, so expect those box office numbers to keep getting higher. The next potential superhero blockbuster, Sony’s Morbius, Spider-Man spin-off starring Jared Leto, doesn’t hit theaters until April 1

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