Christian Bale, who played Batman in three films, hasn’t seen The Batman. For anybody else who hasn’t, it’s devastatingly good. When its first trailer was released, I had zero excitement for the film. However, I was still going to see it – after all, I cried when I saw the Batmobile from the Dark Knight trilogy in person. And to boot, the second and third trailers were tremendous.

Since seeing The Batman, I’ve thought about it many times. And the film went by quickly despite having a runtime of nearly three hours.

Below are 11 takeaways from the film. (Spoilers follow.)

1) Only one Caped Crusader film is better than The Batman

Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) and Batman (Robert Pattinson) in The Batman. (photo credit: Warner Bros.)

The Dark Knight remains the best Batman film. However, The Batman is as excellent as Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises. That’s saying a lot since the first and third installments of the Dark Knight trilogy are remarkable and Batman and since Batman Returns are excellent.

2) I was overcome when A Bat in the Rafters, Pt. 2 plays while Batman is coming to the rescue

I don’t know how many times I have played the song since first hearing it during the film. And it’s helped me work!

3) The creativity behind the story related to the ‘el rata alada’ clue was brilliant

“Rat with wings,” a rough translation of “el rata alada,” is a term for a given pigeon. Thus, I love that Batman (Robert Pattinson) and Commissioner Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) think they are perhaps seeking a stool pigeon, which is a term for a police informant. Also, that the Ridder (Paul Dano) said “el rata” instead of “la rata” as he should have because it figures into a pun. And that the full clue of “you are el rata alada” is “URL rata alada” said out loud – the Dark Knight and Gordon communicate with the Riddler at (which also was a website Warner Bros. set up for fans). Such art!

4) The Batman shows that a great film can have more than a couple of villains

The Riddler (Paul Dano) in The Batman. (photo credit: Landmark Media/Alamy)

Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), the Riddler, and the Penguin (Colin Farrell) are all villains in the film – and Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) isn’t a hero. Yet, I didn’t think for a second that The Batman had too many villains. That’s incredible since it has the same number of villains as Spider-Man 3 and that film’s biggest reputation may be that it is stuffed with villains. The difference is that The Batman handled it better than Spider-Man 3 did. One way it worked in director Matt Reeves’ film is because one villain is prominent without taking too much screen time (Falcone). The Ridder was an amazing villain – and he wasn’t even the nemesis hovering over all of Gotham, as that was Falcone!

5) Tremendous reveals

One example is the appearance of the Joker (Barry Keoghan).

6) Realism goes beyond that seen even in the Dark Knight trilogy

I specifically mean the costumes of Catwoman, the Penguin, the Riddler and the Caped Crusader.

7) Thomas Wayne wanted the journalist to be killed

A political advertisement for Thomas Wayne (Luke Roberts) in The Batman. (photo credit: Warner Bros.)

Alfred (Andy Serkis) didn’t think Wayne wanted Elliot to be murdered, but Alfred isn’t an independent perspective. It’s actually the opposite of that – as Wayne’s butler, Alfred is a Wayne loyalist.

Yes, since Falcone is a corrupt person, it is reasonable to think he lied to Bruce. But this is quite a dark film — dark enough for the truth to be that Wayne asked Falcone to arrange for Elliot to be killed.

8) It felt entirely right when Batman decided to stop seeking vengeance

In Star Wars, when the Sith and anyone sought revenge, it was evil. However, when the Caped Crusader seeks revenge, it’s OK in his mind. Those in the galaxy far, far away who found revenge to be morally wrong were right and The Batman‘s antihero protagonist was wrong. Thus, I love that screenwriter Peter Craig and director Reeves, the other screenwriter, had the Dark Knight have a change of heart.

And it was incredible to have Batman reconsider enacting vengeance by having a Riddler stooge say “I’m vengeance” to the Caped Crusader. It was he who said the line to start the film after pummeling someone.

9) No, The Batman didn’t recount the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents. But Bruce’s background regarding his parents colors the film.

And that was brilliant.

10) Did we really want to see the death of Bruce’s parents recounted again?

Audiences saw it three times from fall 2014 (in Gotham) to spring 2016 (in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) to fall 2019 (in Joker), just two-and-a-half years before The Batman was released.

Martha Wayne (Lauren Cohan) before she is murdered in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. (photo credit: Warner Bros.)

It was being noted even before Joker was released how many times the deaths had been portrayed.

Also, we saw how Spider-Man: Homecoming and neither of the two Spidey films that followed it needed that hero’s famous origin moment to be excellent films. And there was a five-year gap between when audiences last saw one such portrayal and Homecoming.

11) A scene in The Batman felt like something you would see at the end of a trilogy or series

I refer to the climactic flooding of Gotham.

The Batman: An increase in darkness, horror, and realism

In the event, you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to for one reason or another but like an excellent film, see it for that reason. I see a decent amount of films and it’s definitely one of the best ones I’ve seen in the past few years. Also, I’m amazed that The Batman is more dark and horrific and a bit more realistic than any other Caped Crusader production yet, at least in live-action. And that’s not a problem.

The Batman is available on HBO Max.