Movies

‘The Batman’ Is Proof That Superhero Films Can Be Sexy

Every cinematic detective story needs a montage in which the protagonist rummages through evidence and covers their home in the research. In Matt Reeves’s The Batman, Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson), the billionaire descendant to the Wayne empire, peruses old files in his family home, searching for answers that could connect to the murders The Riddler is committing throughout the endlessly corrupt city of Gotham. Bruce opens file cabinets and sprawls photos and newspaper clippings on the floor while the score builds and builds to an aha moment. It’s all very standard, except for the fact that Bruce Wayne is shirtless and his greasy, dark emo Peter Parker-inspired hair falls into his face the entire time. Superheroes – including Bruce Wayne/Batman – have been seen shirtless on screen to show off their ripped biceps and torsos, and a shirtless man is not the sexiest thing you could show in a movie. But the specific choice to have Robert Pattinson act out this entire montage shirtless instead of in a t-shirt, sweater, robe, or hoodie elevates the film’s erotic, sexual undercurrent. In an era when major motion pictures are completely devoid of the concept of sex, The Batman is practically bursting with sexual energy.

The Batman establishes its underlying sensual vibe instantly as it opens with an erotic thriller signature: cinematic voyeurism. The film’s consistent moody atmosphere combines sexiness and looming death. Most scenes take place at night, or in darkness. It is almost always raining. A majority of the film’s rousing action sequences take place in the shadows, the only light coming from alternate sources such as nightclub strobe lights, the fire from a gun, or a scoreboard. The film’s dark and neutral color story uses colors such as the deep, passionate blood-red all over the film’s marketing intentionally and sparingly, which adds to the sexual mystery; a sharp contrast to an overwhelming amount of black (and black leather). A titillating score and quiet, patient dialogue amplify The Batman’s erotic visuals.

The slightly antagonistic but instantly deep connection between Batman and Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) is the emotional heart of the film, but also its sexual center. Pattinson and Kravitz don’t have to do much to exude eroticism. Their presence alone – especially in skin-tight black leather costumes – brings the heat. Even if Pattinson and Kravitz were wearing Uncle Baby Billy wigs and teeth, they would be hot. Like the leads in an erotic thriller, Batman and Catwoman are drawn together despite their differences and even though they know they are bad for each other. While Batman and Catwoman do not have sex on a bed of money, scenes between the two characters are shot up close and include shots of their mouths, which are desperate to touch. Longer shots place them against gorgeous city landscapes at the top of a building overlooking the dimly lit gothic architecture of Gotham at sunset or riding motorcycles through a graveyard.

Even The Batman’s supporting cast adds to the eroticism, albeit more subtly. Jeffrey Wright, who plays Batman’s literal bestie Lieutenant James Gordon, adds to the film’s sensuality with a muted but significant performance that adds a mystical element to the character. Wright’s performance calls to mind David Fincher’s Zodiac, another stunning crime thriller that has a similar sensuality due to its style and performances. John Turturro, whose effortless performance as the cruel but charismatic crime lord Carmine Falcone feels as if he made up his lines on the fly, is seductive and stunning in tinted glasses and standing over a pool table. Colin Farrell, meanwhile, is very ironically the antithesis of the film’s eroticism as the Penguin.

The Batman’s story, themes, characters, and technical elements make it more erotic thriller than superhero film. Although the film does not include any fucking, it suggests that its hero fucks, a sadly unique and new element to the genre. In doing so, the film plays with the idea that superhero movies (such as those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) do not have to be sexless copies of each other. The Batman is not only proof that a comic book movie can be sexy, but an indication that the long-gone genre that defined Hollywood in the 80s and the 90s is making a slow but sure comeback.

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