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Film / The Batman (2022)

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"Thursday, October 31st. The city streets are crowded for the holiday, even with the rain. Hidden in the chaos is the element, waiting to strike like snakes — but I'm there, too. Watching. Two years of nights have turned me into a nocturnal animal. I must choose my targets carefully. It's a big city... I can't be everywhere — but they don't know where I am. We have a signal now, for when I'm needed. But when that light hits the sky, it's not just a call. It's a warning... To them. Fear is a tool. They think I'm hiding in the shadows — but I am the shadows."
The Batman

The Batman is a detective superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It is directed by Matt Reeves and co-written by Reeves and Peter Craig, with Michael Giacchino composing the score.

The film is not set in the concurrent DC Extended Universe, nor is it connected to Joker, but is instead set in its own Alternate Continuity that begins a Shared Universe of its own, and is the first installment of a planned trilogy. Unlike previous first installments of standalone Batman film franchises, which usually featured elements of the character's Superhero Origin or showed him as a seasoned crimefighter from the get-go, the film is set during the formative years of Batman's crime-fighting career, with several members of his Rogues Gallery establishing themselves as his perennial enemies.

Its story follows Bruce Wayne/The Batman during the second year of his career as a vigilante/detective superhero in Gotham City as he tracks a Serial Killer leaving cryptic riddles addressed "To the Batman" on his victims — all of whom are tied to what the killer believes to be the source of the systemic corruption rotting the city from within. Along the way, he crosses paths with street gangs, Dirty Cops, organized crime, and a Classy Cat-Burglar named Selina Kyle. The film draws inspiration from multiple previous Batman works, including Zero Year, The Long Halloween, Ego, and Year One.

The Batman's All-Star Cast includes Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/The Batman, Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, Paul Dano as Edward Nashton/The Riddler, Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot /The Penguin, and John Turturro as Carmine Falcone, as well as Peter Sarsgaard as District Attorney Gil Colson and Jayme Lawson as mayoral candidate Bella Reál.

The film was released on March 4, 2022, and was later released to digital download and streaming via HBO Max on April 18, a day earlier than planned, with a television premiere slated for April 23 on HBO and home releases slated for May 24.

On February 1, 2022, a prequel novel aimed at middle schoolers was released, serving as an Origins Episode for Bruce Wayne and Edward Nashton's journeys into their alter egos. Prior to the release of the film, it was announced that a pair of Spin-Off television series were in development at HBO Max, with Reeves and Dylan Clark executive producing. The first, entitled The Penguin, will premiere in 2024 and focus on this film's iteration of the titular character, covering his origins and rise to power, along with events set after The Batman. A second, as-yet untitled show will explore Arkham Asylum and its inhabitants. A third show, set from the perspective of a GCPD officer during Batman's first year of operations, was announced before the others, but entered a period of Development Hell before resuming development in October 2022.

In the months leading up to the film's release, DC also released a comic book miniseries, Batman: The Imposter, through their Black Label imprint. It was written by Mattson Tomlin, who at the time was credited as a co-screenwriter of the film, but no longer so when the film premiered. While the story doesn't tie into the movie itself, it has a similar grounded tone and also features a younger Batman in the early years of his career.

A comic book series The Riddler Year One, published through Black Label and penned by actor Paul Dano, tells the transformation of Edward Nashton from an accountant in Gotham City to the Riddler.

A sequel was officially announced on April 26, 2022. The film, titled The Batman Part II, is currently scheduled for October 3, 2025.

Not to be confused with the 1940s serial The Batman or the 2004-2008 animated series of the same name.

Previews: Camera Test, DC FanDome Teaser, Main Trailer, The Bat and The Cat Trailer, The Funeral Scene.

The Batman contains examples of:

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     Tropes from A to M 

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: There's a couple clues implying the film is set in 2019.note 
  • Adaptational Badass: While Bruce and most of his tech are in the opposite trope, the same cannot be said about the Batsuit itself, which successfully protects Batman from point-blank range machine gun fire, a direct Shotgun blast, a point-blank explosion and a really nasty crash after a botched landing with his wing suit. It's easily the strongest Batsuit ever put on film.
  • Adaptational Mundanity:
    • The Batcave is an abandoned subway terminal underneath the Wayne Tower instead of an improbably large cavern inside a mountain.
    • The Batman's gliding capability (no pun intended). Unlike The Dark Knight Trilogy, which gave Batman's cape an Applied Phlebotinum "memory cloth", turning it into a bat-wing-shaped glider; or in most other media, where his ability to glide with his cape is unexplained; this film's Batman is merely able to convert his into a wingsuit, something that exists in Real Life. This also takes a few moments to do and still requires a parachute to safely land, so he only uses it in an emergency.
  • Adaptational Ugliness:
    • Downplayed. Though not unattractive, Bruce Wayne out of costume is far gaunter and more unkempt-looking when compared to previous film incarnations of the character. This Bruce is noticeably haggard, pale and sallow, with lank hair and visibly Exhausted Eye Bags.
    • Owing to the film's grittier and more grounded setting, the Riddler in this film doesn't look anywhere near as dapper as he tends to appear in the comics and other adaptations. Instead of the green tux and bowler hat he typically dons, he instead wears a heavy coat, with his face being covered up by a military-issue extreme cold weather mask.
    • In the Deleted Scene, the Joker is one of the ugliest on-screen depictions of the character to date. His face is massively wrinkly and heavily scarred, his green hair is very messy and stringy-looking (akin to his counterpart from Gotham), and his teeth are bent and uneven.invoked
  • Adaptational Villainy: Another aspect taken from Batman: Earth One is that, unlike how most incarnations of the Riddler show off the Insufferable Genius and Complexity Addiction aspects of the character, this one is a Mad Bomber version of the Zodiac Killer, between brutal murders, sending taunting cyphers to Batman, and much destruction through explosives.
  • Adaptational Wimp: This movie is even grittier and more grounded than the Nolan trilogy, so things don't get quite as implausibly badass.
    • Batman's physical feats and tech are more realistic, and he's still learning how to be Batman. He gets shot and punched a lot during fights, with his armor saving his life countless times. He lacks a Precision-Guided Boomerang, and most of his arsenal is based on detective work. Even when he performs a death-defying jump in his wingsuit, he biffs the landing and crashes immediately after making the jump.
    • The Batmobile, while still a Cool Car, is basically an off-road race truck with a bulletproof muscle car body on top. It lacks the James Bondian gadgets and physics-defying maneuverability of its previous incarnations. Its most outlandish feature is the auxiliary jet-engine that only gets used once.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: This movie takes a lot of inspiration from various Batman stories and melds them into one. The visuals are very heavily inspired by the Batman: Arkham Series, most notably the scene where Riddler gets arrested being heavily drawn from the opening scene of Batman: Arkham Knight. The story mostly draws from the limited series The Long Halloween from the mid-'90s, but incorporates some elements from the more recent Batman: Earth One and Batman: The Telltale Series as well, like Thomas and Martha Wayne having dark secrets, Thomas Wayne's mayoral campaign, Alfred needing a cane, the Riddler being a serial killer/Mad Bomber terrorist who targets authority figures, and Martha being a member of the Arkham family. It also takes from Batman: Zero Year, with Riddler as the Big Bad with a plan to devastate Gotham with a flood and a mass blackout in an ass-backwards/insincere attempt to urge them to improvement and express kinship with and respect for Batman.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Unlike Batman (1989) or The Dark Knight Trilogy, this film adaptation assumes viewers are familiar with Batman's mythos and forgoes showing the usual origin story. It's already been two years since Batman started, he's already infamous in Gotham, he's already established a close partnership with Gordon (and tenuous leniency with the GCPD), he's already fought and captured the Joker, there's already a Bat-Signal, and familiar rogues like (the soon-to-be) Catwoman and the Penguin have already established themselves. Notably, this is the first version of Batman since 1997's Batman & Robin to not feature a scene of Thomas and Martha's murder.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Applied to a location rather than a character; Arkham Asylum is called Arkham State Hospital here, similar to Joker (2019).
  • Affectionate Nickname: Selina calls people "honey" when she's emotionally closed off and "baby" when she genuinely cares about them.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Or rather, all dirty laundry is equal to someone who considers dirty laundry a crime. The Riddler sees Martha Arkham Wayne being traumatized as a young woman after her parents died in a gruesome murder-suicide, to the point of spending years in and out of institutions, as being just as much a sign of degeneracy and dishonesty as the actual corruption of Gotham's law enforcement and political classes.
  • Alone-with-Prisoner Ploy: Gordon demands a minute alone with Batman who is held in custody at the police station. Gordon uses the time to secretly hand Batman a key and instructions on how to escape onto the roof.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • Who was behind the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne? Both Salvatore Maroni and Carmine Falcone are brought up as suspects with motivation, but as Alfred notes it could have just been a random mugger who panicked. The true culprit will probably never be found, as it's been 20 years since then.
    • What is the status of Annika's and Selina's relationship? They are shown to be very close and are in fact heavily implied to be dating. Selina also becomes fixated on revenge when she learns that Falcone killed her. However, Selina also refers to Annika as a 'friend' when with Batman, though this is only done as not to disclose information to the guy dressed like a bat. Nothing explicitly romantic is shown either, though we also don't really see enough of their day-to-day lives to make a well-thought-out guess.
    • We really only have Alfred's word to trust when it comes to Thomas Wayne. He insists that Thomas was a genuinely good man who made a terrible mistake when asking Falcone for help with a potential scandal, but we're never sure if he knew the whole story.
  • And This Is for...: As she prepares to shoot Falcone at the Iceberg Lounge, Selina says, "This is for my mother."
  • Arc Words: "Vengeance", "renewal", and "rat with wings."
  • Artistic License – Cars: Despite looking more like an actual car than most other big screen Batmobiles, this version has one feature that is pure fantasy: the bespoke rear engine/jet booster. The back of the car is dominated by what looks like a very large V8 engine with what appears to be a jet engine running through the middle of it. The problem is, this engine cannot run, as the jet booster exhaust exits roughly where the engine's crankshaft would be in the block (implying the turbine is inside the V8). Then again, this Batmobile aready has a functional engine under its front hood. Given how Bruce built this machine himself, the rear booster likely looks like a non-functional engine because that's what he had available.
  • Artistic License – Law Enforcement:
    • As a rule, forensics analysts don't just plug digital media straight into their computer. For one, it becomes inadmissible in court since it can be argued that the cops may have planted incriminating evidence on the drive. The other thing is it might trigger a logic bomb, which is exactly what happens when Gordon pulls up the pictures on the "thumb" drive. In reality, the drive would go to the lab and be imaged for a copy that could then be looked through. A detective as seasoned as Gordon would and should know better. It's a semi-Justified Trope because Gordon is showing Batman—who doesn't have a good relationship with the rest of the police at this point—the drive's contents to keep him 'in the loop', and if he'd turned it straight in, Batman would likely have been barred from crucial evidence he'd need to solve Riddler's Criminal Mind Games. As Gordon and Batman work together almost as closely as actual partners in the force, Gordon necessarily has to skirt some corners to avoid limiting Batman's effectiveness, especially in a police force as corrupt as Gotham's. The fact that the next stage of Riddler's plan depended on Gordon making such an error shows that this isn't the first time he's done something like this, and Riddler is aware of it, given how the drive contained information that the police would not have released if he'd gone through proper channels.
    • At the end of the second act, Batman breaks into the Riddler's apartment to look for more clues. He ends up using the computer, which is still sitting there, when it should've been one of the first pieces of evidence carted off. Same with the carpet-tucker murder weapon. Since it's implied that Gordon was excluding Mackenzie Bock and the police loyal to him from his arrest of Falcone to avoid any corrupt officers interfering in the bust due to Batman's presence, it's implied that they've not had the manpower to properly process his Evidence Dungeon and also lock him up in one night.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Downplayed in regards to the syringe of adrenaline that Batman uses to get back into fighting in the climax. Word of God confirmed that it was indeed a shot of adrenaline, with green coloring added for dramatic effect.
  • Ascended Meme: Bruce's backstory has taken a few hits over the recent years, such as in this College Humor comic. This logic is one of the reasons Edward targets Bruce, as he is representative of the corrupt system and passively living off of the suffering of other people, rather than someone who is actively causing harm, and points out that, though he may be an orphan, his experience was nowhere near comparable to those of countless others in Gotham.
    Y'know, living in a great big tower over the carpark, left with the comforts of home, left with a butler, left with stack and stack and stack of mommy and daddy's money does not. An orphan. Make!
  • Aside Glance: Subverted. As he rides toward Gotham at the end of the film, the Batman seems to look right at the audience. Then we see he's actually looking in his motorcycle's rear-view mirror at Selina riding away.
  • Asshole Victim: The Riddler's initial victims were heavily corrupt government or police figures which contributed to the decay of Gotham by siphoning away the money meant to help Gotham's lower class to fill their own pockets and turning a blind eye to Gotham's crime rings. However, he targets Bruce Wayne later because Bruce was an orphan who still had tons of money and attention, while he was an orphan who lived in squalor and was completely forgotten by the world. He also concludes his schemes by destroying Gotham's sea-wall to unleash a massive flood, causing the deaths of countless innocent people.
    • Lampshaded in the deleted scene when Batman is accused of secretly believing that the Riddler's victims deserved it, and because of that, he fears he's not that different.
  • Awesome by Analysis: From one look at the first murder victim, Batman deduces that he was still alive when his finger was cut off due to the ecchymosisnote  around the wound.
  • Bad Guy Bar: The Penguin's usual base of operations, the Iceberg Lounge, is a major recurring set-piece in the film, although it's more of a nightclub here. The main floor is a mostly legitimate, if rather sleazy hangout, but the secret basement level known as 44 Below plays this trope straight, as it's a well known mob hangout. The club also serves as the only access to a penthouse suite that serves as Carmine Falcone's (and later, Penguin's) mob throne room.
  • Bad Guys Play Pool: Carmine Falcone is shown playing billiards, and later in the movie tries to use a pool cue to kill Selina.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • The opening shot has someone spying on a person wearing a red ninja outfit who slashes at a man in a suit, making it look like a murder, but then the man stands up and hugs the ninja, making it clear that the ninja is actually the man's son wearing a costume, and they were just playing around.
    • The man, woman and boy in the opening are teased to be the Waynes. They're in a huge mansion, the boy's swordsmanship recalls the fact that Bruce's family is iconically killed after watching a Zorro movie, and his horseplay also foreshadows murder. But soon after, they're revealed to be a completely different family.
    • A significant portion of the film is spent building up to the idea that the Riddler is aware of Bruce's secret identity as The Batman, which fuels his attempts to 'reach out to' Batman through his clues left at the scenes of his murders as well as the attacks he orchestrates against Bruce, including a letter bomb that badly injures Alfred. When Riddler is finally caught and in police custody, Batman sits down to interrogate him and he says Bruce Wayne's name... as a lead up to his tirade against the corruption in Gotham and the disdain and apathy held by its elite towards the poor that Edward thinks Bruce symbolizes. Nashton reveals that he's actually a fan of the Batman and patterned his attempts to expose Gotham's corruption on Bruce's own crusade, believing the two of them shared a common goal. Despite having all the clues he needs to deduce Bruce's secret, it becomes apparent that Edward can’t reconcile the mental image he has of Bruce as the embodiment of Gotham's sins with the masked vigilante that inspired him.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: After Falcone is arrested and brought outside, Penguin taunts him and pulls out a handgun. A gunshot rings out, and Falcone drops to the ground dead, but Penguin insists it wasn't him. Batman looks up and sees the Riddler with a sniper rifle in his apartment.
  • Bat Deduction: A hard subversion done by the Trope Namer duo. The most abstruse meanings of Riddler's clues tend to either take a while for Batman to grasp or just fly over his head entirely. When the two interact via internet connection halfway through the case, Riddler seems almost annoyed that Batman isn't just magically figuring out all his obscure breadcrumbs immediately.
  • Batman Gambit: Done by the Riddler to Batman, ironically enough. His plot hinges on Batman playing along and participating in the Riddler's hunt for the rat in order to stop the murders, then finding Falcone alive and handing him over to the police at the Iceberg Lounge's front entrance.
  • Battle Couple: Although not officially a "couple", at this point Batman and Selina probably qualify, particularly in the climax when she attacks a Riddler follower to protect an injured Batman, and he in turn pulls a Heroic Second Wind to save her afterwards.
  • Battle in the Rain:
  • Beta Outfit: Selina Kyle's not-yet-Catwoman burglar outfit still has some slight folds at the top of her ski mask that resemble cat ears.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Batman is hanging helplessly from the ceiling at the stadium and one of Riddler's goons points his rifle at him at point-blank range, Selina comes in from above, kicks the mook's ass and pulls Batman up to safety.
  • Big Dam Plot: The climax of Riddler's plan is to blow up the sea-walls around downtown Gotham, causing large-scale flooding that will force the survivors to shelter in a stadium above sea level... where his followers will be waiting to pick them off in the rafters.
  • Binocular Shot: Used for the stalker POV shot in the opening scene.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Batman stops the Riddler, overcomes his rage and vigilantism, and prepares to become a Hope Bringer for Gotham City, which is finally run by a mayor who’s corruption-free. But the city has been flooded, resulting in thousands of fatalities, and Selina skips town. Worst yet, it's revealed that, deep within Arkham, Riddler has encountered a new friend...
  • Blown Across the Room:
    • The bomb explosion at the funeral sends Batman flying across the hall.
    • In the climax, a mook shoots Batman in his armored vest with a shotgun at close range. The blunt force knocks him off his feet.
  • Book Ends:
    • The film opens on a rainy night, and shows us the Batman as a mythical symbol of fear to the criminals of Gotham that he beats down. It ends on the morning after a flood, after Batman has exposed himself to the public, and he's become a symbol of hope and protection to the people of the city, who he's literally and figuratively helped raise up. Both sequences are set to Nirvana's "Something in the Way."
    • The first time we see the Batman in action, he delivers a controlled but vicious beatdown to a thug that attacks him, showing that he's struggling with rage issues towards criminals that he vents through violence, and terrifies the nearby civilian he was saving. In the climax, in order to save Selina from the last Riddler goon, he injects himself with some sort of enhancement drug that pushes him into an adrenaline high. He almost loses himself in his rage and beats the goon to death with his bare hands, while Selina watches, horrified. When Gordon asks who the barely-conscious goon is, he says 'Vengeance', which shows how Bruce's vigilantism has had the opposite effect from the one he wanted.
      • This is followed by a scene where Batman decides to help save people instead of just seeking vengeance, and steps out into the light. The next morning, he carries a girl to a medevac helicopter's stretcher. She doesn't want to let him go, so he comforts her by squeezing her hand. It's the complete opposite of what happened with the opening victim.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Gordon and Batman have to gain access to the Riddler's thumb drive by using the fingerprint of the mayor's severed thumb.
  • Broken Pedestal: The Riddler's twisted admiration of the Batman takes a serious hit in their final conversation in Arkham, when the Caped Crusader firmly makes it clear that he does not agree with what Riddler has done, labeling him a "pathetic psychopath". This leads to the Riddler having a bad case of Villainous Breakdown.
  • But Now I Must Go: Selina decides to leave the city for a fresh start, and Batman—wanting to stay to continue helping Gotham—turns down her offer to go with her.
  • Call-Back: In the climax, one of Riddler's followers exclaims "I'm vengeance", echoing Batman's use of the same line.
  • Calling Card: The Riddler leaves greeting cards addressed to the Batman behind at the crime scenes. One of them even urges Batman to call the Riddler.
  • Can't Tie His Tie: Bruce has so little interest in his civilian ID that he almost leaves to attend the mayor's funeral wearing a shirt with undone cuffs because he couldn't find his cufflinks. Alfred cannot allow him to leave the house like that, and gives Bruce his own cufflinks.
  • Cape Snag: A couple of the gunmen during the climax manage to drag Bats by his cape halfway across a platform before he manages to throw them off.
  • Car Fu: Selina uses her motorcycle to knock Penguin's lackey on his ass, then pulls a nifty reverse to grab up a duffel bag of cash on her way past.
  • Cast as a Mask: In a "Never Trust a Press Release" sort of way. Initially, Warner Brothers indicated that Barry Keoghan would be portraying a police officer named Stanley Merkel, a character who does not appear at all in the film. Come the finished movie, it turns out that this was misdirection to hide the fact that he's playing the Joker. It later came to light that Keoghan did film a fake scene as the character he was originally listed to be playing as a means of hiding his actual role in the film.
  • Casting Gag: Peter Sarsgaard being cast as a district attorney after his wife Maggie Gyllenhaal played the DA's girlfriend in The Dark Knight. They also both meet the same fate of dying in an explosion at the hands of the Big Bad of their respective films (Joker in The Dark Knight, Riddler in The Batman).
  • Central Theme:
    • Hope: Batman doesn't care about hope, only stopping bad guys. Selina picks up strays because her mom died and her father, Falcone, abandoned her. Riddler and his groupies don't have much hope either, unless you count their deluded hopes of getting Vengeance on the city. The final shot of Penguin in the film shows him looking out over the devastated Gotham and contemplating the future of his inherited criminal empire.
    • Legacy: All over the place. The Riddler attacks the good reputations of his corrupt victims. Thomas Wayne attempted to do good with the Renewal project, which utterly failed. In fact, it ended up funding the corruption he fought against. Bruce says he doesn't care about what happens to him, or Wayne Enterprises, because he thinks of the Batman as his legacy. He's later horrified to learn that his quest for "Vengeance" inspired the Riddler and Riddler's copycats, which makes him realize he can't just punish the guilty, he needs to protect the innocent.
    • Perception/Deception: A lot of characters have incorrect perceptions of each other due to their particular viewpoints, such as Bruce's refusal to care about anything or anyone - including himself - except vengeance. Selina resents the corrupt white privileged people who run the city, specifically invoking Bruce Wayne as a symbol of that, unaware she's falling for the man himself as Batman. Even Riddler, for all his smarts, assumes Batman was secretly working with him, and thinks Bruce Wayne could never truly suffer like any other orphan because of his wealth. Ironic for a guy who hates lies.
    • Vengeance: Also an Arc Word. The cesspit that is modern Gotham breeds so many feelings of misanthropy in the main characters: the Riddler seeks vengeance against Gotham's elites for ignoring the poor orphans like him in the Wayne Orphanage, Selina first seeks vengeance in a generalized way against the rich by stealing and later against Carmine Falcone, her father, for murdering her mother and Annika. And Bruce Wayne is clearly utilizing the Batman persona as a tool to lash out in pained vengeance at a world that robbed him of his mother and father. Tellingly, each of the three leads reacts to that ancient koan—that vengeance doesn't actually solve anything—in different ways: the Riddler steadfastly refuses to believe in anything other than seeking vengeance, ultimately dooming himself to be remembered as a homicidal maniac and not a sympathetic orphan who'd been broken by the corrupt system he lived in. Selina nearly kills Falcone, but is convinced by Batman/Bruce to let go of her vengeance...but ultimately she decides to leave Gotham entirely rather than put up with the crumminess of the city itself. And Batman, horrified that his mantra of "I'm Vengeance" is actually inspiring crazed copycats like the Riddler and his followers, determines that he must not just be an instrument of fear and vengeance, but rather stand as a beacon of hope for people.
  • Character Arc: Bruce learns that he has to be more than a symbol of fear, of vengeance; he has to find a way to bring the ordinary people of the city hope as well.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The debate between Mitchell and Reál brings up the city's sea-wall, funded by the Renewel Fund. As the last part of his plan, the Riddler destroys the sea-wall with timed bombs, flooding Gotham.
    • The metal tool the Riddler uses in his first murder in the beginning of the movie turns out to be essential to unraveling the masterstroke of his ultimate plan. Unfortunately, Batman doesn't figure out the significance of this particular tool until it's too late, which really disappoints Riddler.
    • In the climax, there's a Hitler Cam shot of a Riddler Groupie on the gantry. The angle also happens to include a fire extinguisher strapped to the side. It's visible in other shots as well. Later, Batman slaps a bomb on that exact same extinguisher, which blows up into a cloud of smoke.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Briefly, a nameless Gothamite at the mayor's funeral expresses his disgust for the city's rich elites to Bruce Wayne (not realizing at first he's talking to one of the city's richest elites), because their money-grubbing killed his sick daughter. This man is the radicalized Riddler follower who is unmasked in the finale, and the final straw which makes Batman realize being a brutal agent of "vengeance" isn't good enough when the man says that "[he's] vengeance".
  • Chiaroscuro: Much of the film is set in the dark, with small light sources used to highlight details and increase tension. One notable instance is when Batman plows through a group of Falcone's mobsters in a pitch-black hallway with only brief glimpses of the action being shown through muzzle flashes.
  • City Noir: The film depicts one of the grimmest, darkest, most depressing versions of Gotham City ever put to screen.
  • City of Everywhere: Gotham is shown to have replicas of iconic landmarks from multiple cities, including New York's Times Square, Nelson's Column from London, and a "Gotham" theater sign in the style of The Chicago Theatre.
  • Civvie Spandex:
    • Selina is wearing a makeshift Catwoman costume made up of a ski mask and black jumpsuit.
    • Riddler's costume is an off-the-shelf coat with his logo drawn on it, gloves, a cold-weather military surplus mask, cling film wrapped around the head (to avoid leaving forensic evidence) and glasses. Presumably he crafted it out of easy-to-access materials precisely to make it impossible to trace his prior movements and identify him whilst his plan is underway. His groupies wear the same, possibly to evoke the Black Bloc riot tactic, where people wear generic black clothes to prevent identification and look organized and numerous. However, a brief mid-00s fad called Clown Bloc is also relevant: if you see a dozen people in clown suits, you won't be able to describe any distinguishing features even if the suits are very different from each other. In this way, Riddler groupies create the effect of a uniform despite haphazardly pulling bits of it off random shelves.
  • Complexity Addiction: It's the Riddler, so naturally this occurs with his overall scheme furthered through his Criminal Mind Games, but, fitting with the Deconstruction of the more fantastic aspects of the Batman Mythos, its effectiveness is Zigzagged. On the one hand, the portion of his plans that involves manipulating Batman and Gordon into exposing Falcone as the Rat so he can kill him actually fails, because he's so roundabout in his clues and statements alluding to what he wants that all they can understand is that he wants them to uncover the Rat's identity, and not why he does. It's ultimately Selina's tangential investigation into Annika's simpler and straightforward murder that exposes the answer by chance, showing that Riddler being too obscure in his puzzles actually works against him when he needs to manipulate people into doing what he wants. On the other hand, because he's been so abstruse, Batman never understood that there was a final plan in place until Riddler told him, and the time he has to spend solving the final riddle is more than sufficient for the bombs to go off, showing that, when his plans depend on distracting his opponents whilst the actual scheme is underway, his confusing clues work as a smokescreen until everything's ready to proceed.
  • Composite Character:
    • Paul Dano's Riddler incorporates elements of the entirely separate Batman villain Hush, from his "costume" being a full face mask made out of strips of material, a longcoat, and leather gloves, to his unhealthy obsession with Bruce Wayne. He also takes elements of the Holiday Killer and Two-Face's role in Carmine Falcone's death. His backstory of growing up in an Orphanage of Fear that lost its funding when the Waynes died comes from Lincoln March/Owlman. It crosses over to Red Herring when the word "HUSH" is flashed across the screen in one of Riddler's livestreams, and a picture of Bruce and Riddler as children is in his lair.
    • Police commissioner Pete Savage is a mixture of Gillian Loeb (his rank, association with criminals, fat appearance, and eventual murder to allow Gordon to fill the spot) and Harvey Bullock (his scruffy-looking appearance, taking bribes from criminals, and his distrust of Batman). Like some versions of Bullock, Savage was also a former partner of Gordon at some point prior to his elevation to commissioner.
  • Concealing Canvas: Selina finds a safe behind a painting at the mayor's house with Annika's passport inside.
  • Consulting a Convicted Killer: A deleted scene from early in the film sees Batman do exactly this — breaking into Arkham to speak with the Joker.
  • Conveniently Cellmates: When the Riddler is locked up in Arkham, his neighbor is none other than the Joker, who sympathizes with his plight before sharing a laugh with him.
  • Conveniently Empty Roads: Subverted. The Batmobile chase starts off on empty roads, but Bats and Penguin soon encounter heavy traffic that they must navigate.
  • Cool Car:
    • The Batmobile is a lifted twin-engined muscle car with a jet-engine-looking booster rocket.
    • The Penguin's car is a Maserati Ghibli, a sleek Italian sports sedan befitting a sleazy gangster.
  • Cops Need the Vigilante: Downplayed, as the other police barely tolerate Batman's presence on the case, and at one point he's clearly on the verge of being arrested and Gordon has to help him escape the police station. Though it turns out that a lot of the people opposing Batman were dirty themselves and involved with the Urban Renewal Fund. The corruption simply runs so deep in Gotham that Gordon and the remaining honest cops in the city need Batman's help.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: In the climax, if Batman had recognized the murder weapon used to kill the mayor as a carpet-scraper, he would have found Riddler's outlined plans to flood the city located underneath the apartment carpet, Hidden in Plain Sight in a room full of evidence about Riddler's overall plan much earlier than he did. Notably, Riddler was under the impression that Batman had solved that clue at first and successfully stopped his final masterstroke, and mocks him for not being as smart as he believed him to be.
    • Also, if anyone had realized Riddler was consistently taking his photos from the exact same location.
  • Crash in Through the Ceiling: Riddler has his followers set up shop in the rafters of the stadium, while waiting for people fleeing from the sea-wall collapse to seek shelter there. They begin shooting at all the scared Gothamites, only for Batman to explode the stadium ceiling and proceed to kick all their asses.
  • Criminal Mind Games: The Riddler's murders and the clues he leaves behind, which range from cryptic clues in greeting cards to forcing a man on an Explosive Leash to play a game of riddles.
  • Cruelty by Feet: Selina tries to murder Kenzie for his involvement in covering-up Annika's murder, first by shooting him, but Batman stops her. When Batman tells her killing him will waste her life, this is her response:
    Selina: Don't worry, honey. (Slowly lifts her foot and plants it on Kenzie's chest) I've got nine of 'em. (Pushes him off the ledge)
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: A goon attacks Batman with a machete. Batman easily pummels him to the ground with one hand. And then he keeps hitting him.
  • Cut Apart:
    • When the Penguin catches Selina trying to steal the duffle bags with money, she takes cover from his bullets behind a car. The camera follows the Penguin as he closes in on the spot only to reveal that it was a different car she was hiding behind.
    • Played with in the scene where Alfred finds the letter from the Riddler. The audio and video during the scene turn out to happen hours apart.
  • Damage-Proof Vehicle: The Batmobile. Thinking he's blown up the pursuing Batman, Penguin loudly exclaims "HAHA, I GOT YOU! I GOTCHU!" as his car speeds away... Only for the Batmobile to burst through the fireball, land with a bounce, and then ram Penguin's car so hard he loses control and flips.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: D.A. Colson leaves the 44 Below club under the influence of drops and is trying to start his car when he notices the headrest on the driver's seat is missing. Just as realization sinks in, the Riddler rises from the backseat and chokes him into unconsciousness.
  • Darkened Building Shootout: After sawing through the nightclub's power system, Batman has to battle a group of mooks in the dark.
  • Darker and Edgier: While it does have some hopeful moments, tonally the movie is one of the darkest Batman movies ever made, coming close to the R-rated Joker (2019) (which, unlike this movie, was completely devoid of light). Despite the PG-13 rating, the movie doesn't shy away from showing multiple graphic murders (with only some gory discretion shots in-between), Selina Kyle working as an escort in a sleazy nightclub, and intoxicated users of a substance that is cocaine in everything except name. The film also has an extremely nihilistic and unbelievably bleak storyline, the atmosphere as a whole is insanely eerie and is chock-full of unflinching darkness and uncrompromising subject matter, and it's implied multiple times that Batman is fighting a hopeless battle against a system that's corrupt down to its foundations. Even the Iceberg Lounge, a hideout of the Penguin that's typically depicted as a classy and legitimate-looking locale, is rendered as a grimy club on the edge of town.
  • Darkest Hour: When Batman visits Riddler at Arkham, it briefly appears that Riddler has figured out his Secret Identity, but it turns out he's just upset that he was the one who got away. Then it segues into a Villainous Breakdown when Batman rejects his claim that they've been working together. That's when he reveals he has a much bigger plan in the works.
  • Dating Catwoman: Bruce and Selina flirt over the course of the story, but their relationship doesn't progress to explicitly dating.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Courtesy of Carmine Falcone: "Your father wanted me to handle it, so I handled it."
  • Deadly Graduation: Downplayed. The kid with only half his clown paint seems to be a new member of the gang. When they surround and hold down a commuter, the full members encourage the kid to beat the commuter, likely as a sign that he's committed. Luckily, Batman interrupts before he can comply.
  • Dead Man Honking: When the Riddler chokes Colson into unconsciousness from the backseat of his car, Colson falls forward and his head plants on the steering wheel, causing the horn to blare.
  • Death by Irony: When Falcone meets Bruce at the Mayor's funeral, he relates a tale to him about how his father performed emergency surgery on him at the Wayne family home after he got shot and couldn't go to the hospital, vividly recalling young Bruce peeking down on him over the banisters as he lay bleeding out on the dining table. He dies in similar conditions, bleeding out on the streets with Batman looking down on him from above, though only Bruce is aware of the irony.
  • Death Seeker: Bruce Wayne shows more than the usual disregard for his own safety, taking hits in fights rather than trying to avoid them, refusing to take cover from explosives, and generally behaving more fatalistically than in most other iterations of the character.
  • Decon-Recon Switch:
    • The film shows how Batman being a Terror Hero makes the people of Gotham just as scared of him as the criminals he fights, and how this hinders his mission until he learns how to be a better hero, saving the people of Gotham from drowning when the city is flooded and becoming a Hope Bringer.
    • The movie does a similar thing with the Riddler and his Complexity Addiction. No one is going to pick up on his clues every single time, especially when they're so abstruse, but this helps put the heroes on a Wild Goose Chase that lets Riddler build up supporters and prepare his final plan behind the scenes, and by the time Batman figures out what's going on, he's too late to stop it.
  • Deconstruction: By virtue of taking place in a universe that is a lot more grounded than many other depictions of Batman, The Batman examines a lot of traditional Caped Crusader tropes with more scrutiny than usual.
    • Batman's Terror Hero aspect causes him a lot of problems in this film. First, while Bruce's dedication to being a vigilante is admirable, the way he goes about it is not healthy. This is par for the course for most Batman works, but here, Bruce has none of the suave sophistication and healthiness he has in other adaptations — he's haggard, scarred, and looks to be on the brink of death near constantly. Second, Bruce really is just one man. While people are terrified of the Batman, Bruce has to work night and day to keep the legend of Batman alive, and people are beginning to realize his limitations. Lastly, the movie pokes holes in the idea that only Bruce would desire a way to fix Gotham's crime problems. In reality, the Riddler has also realized the city is corrupt and is working on cleaning up crime in his own way. As a matter of fact, he actually believes that himself and the Batman are on the same side and is confused and hurt when Batman calls him a psychopath. In the end, Nashton ends up doing the exact same thing as Bruce, with the only difference being that Nashton kills people. Both were betrayed by the city, both are lashing out in violence, both use public appearances and extreme violence to cultivate a legend of fear, and both are willing to push themselves to the brink to achieve vengeance. By the end of the film, Bruce decides to focus less on terrorizing criminals and more on lifting up Gotham's downtrodden, realizing that he's going down the same dark road as Nashton.
    • Previous Batman works have the villains express their insanity in traditional, troperrific ways. The Joker is a walking example of Insane Equals Violent, while other villains like Two-Face or Scarecrow have exaggerated mental illnesses (i.e schizophrenia and sadistic personality disorder) as their "gimmicks". In this film, those who suffer from mental illnesses are treated somewhat more realistically. In particular, the Riddler's traditional narcissism is turned up to eleven by transforming him into a vigilante. Instead of lording over others with his intelligence and making comical schemes, Nashton becomes completely obsessed with his war on crime to the point of being unable to understand or care about the damage he's causing. The Riddler only ends up losing because his ego causes him to be unable to see the obvious connections between Bruce and the Batman, too convinced in Bruce's supposed arrogance.
    • Other Batman works paint Bruce as someone rising up to stop the city's descent into criminality, but here he's painted more like a symptom of it — yet another wounded boy lashing out at the people who wronged him. This makes Bruce a lot more pathetic and unlikable compared to other interpretations of the character, as his war on crime is called out several times as being selfish. His character arc has Bruce realizing that he needs to be truly different in order to make a difference in Gotham, and thus commits to becoming a Hope Bringer instead of someone who wants to hurt others. This is strengthened in the climax of the film, since it ends with Riddler's plan going off perfectly and reducing Gotham City to a flooded wasteland, so beating down crime instead of helping people in their Darkest Hour would be a truly horrible thing to do.
    • The film also takes the "Batman is Bruce Wayne's true self" interpretation to its logical conclusion. Being Batman has consumed Bruce's life to the point that there's no distinction between Bruce Wayne and Batman at all: Bruce is Batman both in and out of costume, so much so that he retains his Batman mannerisms when presenting as Bruce Wayne. We later see that Bruce is actively neglecting his civilian life and family legacy in favor of his vigilante activities, viewing the Batman as his family's true legacy. This neglect has extended to his family's finances too, as a lack of oversight is what allowed the Renewal fund to be looted by mobsters and corrupt officials after his father's death.
  • Den of Iniquity: Zigzagged with Penguin's nightclub. Averted with the forward-facing Iceberg Lounge which, while definitely sleazy and trashy, is a pretty standard modern nightclub. It's then played straight with 44 Below, the club-within-a-club, a known mob hangout where Carmine Falcone spends most of his time. It is also heavily implied that most, if not all of the bar girls are sex workers - judging by Falcone stealing Annika's passport, they are likely not in that position by choice.
  • Depth of Field: In the deleted Arkham scene, when obscured due to the camera's depth of field, Joker looks like he has Ledger's Glasgow Grin.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Batman chooses to remain in Gotham and work toward helping it recover from everything that has happened, and in turn, must sadly watch Selina leave the city to be able to start anew.
  • Dirty Cop: Early in the film, Batman encounters cops who are moonlighting as muscle for Carmine Falcone and the Penguin, and the police commissioner, Pete Savage, is caught taking bribes from a criminal. The Gotham police department is eventually revealed to be hopelessly corrupt and compromised, as Falcone has the senior officers under his thumb.
  • Diving Save: Bruce dives to save the mayor's son from the car that crashes into the funeral.
  • Double Meaning:
    • The Riddler's first cipher is determined to be a coded message that spells out DRIVE. Batman figures out that this means two things: that the next clue is in the car of the Riddler's victim, and that the clue is stored in a thumb drive.
    • The Riddler's second victim is killed by being injected with arsenic (rat poison) and then having rats eat his face. It symbolizes corruption eating Gotham alive, there being a "rat" in the centre of the conspiracy, and that the Riddler wants the rat dead.
    • The Riddler's second cipher has a clue about "rata alada", meaning "rat with wings". Gordon and Batman determine it could also mean a pigeon, specifically a stool pigeon, and focusing on the "wings" aspect, initially suspect Penguin, because a penguin has wings. Penguin angrily suggests Batman himself to be the "rat with wings" when they accuse him, because a bat also has wings and is superficially ratlike. It turns out the stool pigeon is Falcone, because a falcon also has wings.
    • The second cipher also begins by stating "You are el" before "rata alada", which people take to believe either he messed up his Spanish, or the "rat with wings" is male. It actually meant "URL", as in the actual solution is the web address (which was a working website as of the film's release, also given in the end credits).
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Falcone doesn't know Selina's his daughter, and keeps flirting with her, presumably because she reminds him of her mother, on top of being, y'know, beautiful.
    • When Selina is leaving the Iceberg Lounge after a run-in with Falcone, Gil Colson offers her a ride home in his car nearby. Creeped out by him and the dangerous people he associates with, she refuses and hails a cab instead. What neither of them realize, but that the audience is made aware of partway through the scene, is that Riddler is hiding right inside the car awaiting Colson's entry. If Selina had taken his offer up, she'd likely have been attacked as well.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Defied. Batman viciously lashes out at GCPD officers who try to unmask him at the police station, both out of disgust at their corruption and out of desperation to preserve his secret identity.
  • Driving Question: "Who is the rat?" Much of the second act revolves around Batman and Gordon trying to figure out who ratted out Salvatore Maroni and his operation to the authorities, since the Riddler is targeting those involved in the case, and Batman believes that finding the rat will lead him to the Riddler. The rat is Carmine Falcone, who manipulated the situation to take out his rival, get kompromat on the police, the DA and the mayor, and become the de facto ruler of Gotham.
  • Empathic Environment: Gotham is almost always dark and rainy. Until the final scenes, where a more heroic, public-facing Batman helps rescue the citizens of Gotham against the backdrop of a clear sunrise.
  • Empty Bedroom Grieving: Bruce locked up his parents' bedroom the way they left it some 20 years ago. He decides to revisit the room after learning who potentially order them killed.
  • Engineered Heroics: Many major figures in Gotham rose to power thanks to the drug bust that captured Salvatore Maroni. The Riddler reveals that the entire thing was arranged by Carmine Falcone to eliminate his rival. He not only owns every major political figure in the city thanks to the bust, but he also smoothly resumed the drug operation afterwards.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: More than once, Batman follows Riddler's clues (and other available evidence) to a logical, but still inaccurate conclusion:
    • After decoding the "rat with wings" clue, Batman concludes that Penguin, who has inherited Sal Maroni's narcotics operation, is the rat in question, believing that Oswald sold Maroni out to take over his operation. After he actually captures Penguin, however, Batman learns that Penguin isn't the rat, and starts thinking that "rat with wings" refers to bats, and to Batman himself. It's eventually revealed that the real rat is Falcone, whose name is Italian for falcon, making him a "rat with wings".
    • In Riddler's apartment, seeing images of Bruce Wayne near news articles about Batman along with the words "I know the real you" convinces Batman that Riddler knows his true identity. As it turns out, the positioning was a disturbing but meaningless coincidence; Riddler hasn't made any connection between Bruce and Batman (he actually has opposite opinions about the two identities), and the written message refers to Bella Reál, not Batman.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Batman finds out that even though the Riddler has been captured, his scheme isn't over yet, but he hasn't been able to find the crucial clue to determine what the planned grand finale is. It isn't until it's pointed out to him by a police officer that the murder weapon the Riddler used to kill the mayor in the beginning was a tool for installing carpets that he realizes the final clue was under their feet the whole time: Riddler hid a map showing the location of the van bombs he placed around Gotham beneath the carpet in his apartment.
  • Everyone Has Standards: During the Riddler's livestream of Colson's death, at least one of the people in chat tries to talk him out of detonating the bomb.
    "Don't do it, Riddler. I want a real trial. We deserve that."
  • Evidence Dungeon: The Riddler's apartment, when Batman and the cops discover it after he's shot Carmine Falcone, is covered with newspaper clippings of his various targets, his scrawled rantings about Gotham's corruption on the walls, his journal filled with his gibberish thought process as well as some of the leftover gear and supplies he used to construct the Saw-style devices used against his prior victims. All of this is a smokescreen for the real valuable clue hidden in the apartment — a detailed map of Riddler's final plan and the password needed to unlock his final video located underneath the ordinary carpet in the room.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Upon being confronted by Batman in Arkham, the Riddler reveals that he believes them to be the same, as both are seeking vengeance against those they believe are wrongdoers to go down in history. This, however, completely misses the fact that Batman doesn't kill anyone and has never wanted fame for it. Batman spelling this out sends Riddler into a serious Villainous Breakdown.
  • Evil Gloating: Riddler leaves multiple clues and riddles that carry this tone on the scenes of his murders specifically for Batman. However, this is actually Subverted. Riddler is genuinely trying to communicate with Batman (at least, his twisted perception of Batman), and lead him to the truth about the Rat so they can take down Gotham's biggest criminal element together. This misperception is furthered by the fact that one of the targets Riddler wants eliminated to erase Gotham's corrupt elite is Bruce Wayne himself, causing him to unintentionally send mixed messages to Batman through his different reactions to both halves of his secret identity. It's only played straight right at the end, when Batman rejects Riddler to his face as a deluded psychopath, sending him into a Villainous Breakdown wherein he blurts out that his final grandest plan is still underway, something he was under the impression Batman already knew about. Upon realising that Batman was clueless, he tauntingly keeps his mouth shut, only responding to Batman's angry demand for answers by childishly singing 'Ave Maria' as Bruce becomes increasingly frenzied in trying to force the answers out of him.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor:
    • Riddler enacts a livestream with Batman and Colson where the DA must answer three riddles or have a timed collar bomb around his neck explode. After his second riddle is answered correctly, he jovially offers some words of "support".
      "Don't lose your head, Mr. Colson."
    • "Thumb drive."
  • Exact Words: This exchange:
    Selina: (referring to Batman's mask) So, why do you wear this? Are you horribly scarred or something?
    Batman: Yes.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
    • A dual one occurs for both Batman and the Riddler at the same time. When Edward suffers his Villainous Breakdown during his interrogation, he angrily rants that he'd planned far enough ahead to bring Batman to the interrogation room to keep him safe from what's coming, causing Batman to realize that he's put something in motion that will endanger lives on a grand scale, and Edward to realize that Batman was completely clueless about his final plan until he told him, despite having the clues he'd left him to spell it out.
    • A non-verbal example occurs between Batman and Selina as they're listening to the recording of Falcone murdering Annika. When Gordon deduces from the sounds that Falcone is strangling her, Batman immediately looks at Selina in obvious distress, Selina earlier having told him that her mother was found strangled by what she assumed to be one of the club's patrons, leading to her falling into foster care. Both of them now realize that it was Falcone himself who murdered Selina's mother and effectively orphaned her, and Batman realizes that Selina wants Revenge on him now instead of just robbing him as she'd originally planned.
  • Explosive Leash: District Attorney Colson is revealed to have an explosive device attached to his neck after exiting the vehicle he just crashed into Mayor Mitchell's funeral. Riddler tells him that he'll allow him to take off the collar if he correctly answers three questions within two minutes. He answers the first two with Batman's help, but he refuses to answer the third one ("Who is the 'rat'?") for the safety of his family, and is blown up.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Riddler's first victim walks past only feet away from him. The fact that Riddler is standing absolutely still in the shadows of the dark room justifies this somewhat.
    • Selina, on her way to steal back Annika's passport, somehow doesn't notice Bruce Wayne tailing her. Made more egregious because they're on the only two motorcycles on the street, at night, in the pouring rain, and both are weaving recklessly through traffic.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Everyone involved in the Maroni drug bust, including the Mayor, the DA, and the Police Commissioner. The whole thing was a way for Falcone to get rid of a rival and boost their careers at the same time.
  • Fantastic Drug: "Drop", a drug produced by the Gotham mob and taken via eyedroppers. The exact effects are not detailed; Colson's behavior in 44 Below suggests it's like cocaine or Ecstasy (making him prone to babbling and highly emotional, though he was already frightened and stressed), while the looks of the Drop addicts seen later squatting in the orphanage show that long-term usage affects victims like heroin, crack, or meth (they're even referred to as "Dropheads").
  • Film Noir: The film draws a lot on this genre, as Batman's detective skills get a workout to stop a semi-sympathetic Serial Killer (the Riddler), and he is aided by a morally ambiguous Femme Fatale (Selina Kyle) as he discovers how corrupt Gotham really is. Gotham is drenched in torrential rain for most of the film, and the lighting is suitably chiaroscuro-esque.
  • Fingore: After Mitchell is murdered, Batman and Gordon find his severed finger attached to a thumb drive, which makes Gordon squeamish.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing:
    • When DA Gil Coulson gets in his car, he spends a few seconds wiping condensation from the inside of his windshield... because the Riddler is hiding in the back seat and has been sweating in his rubber and saran wrap.
    • Just before cracking the code on the Riddler's final video, the chat comments right next to it show his followers have been discussing the weapons, outfits, and tactical gear they will use for the attack in the climax.
    • When Batman calls Alfred to warn him about the Riddler's bomb, we hear the phone ringing, and see Alfred opening the mail and finding the bomb. Alfred doesn't react to the phone in any way. Subverted because the ringing is in the present. The visuals happened an hour before Batman called.
    • Martha Wayne's maiden name being revealed to be "Arkham" should tip anyone familiar enough off to the fact that the rest of Riddler's video will deal with the Arkham family's spotty history.
    • Bruce has a look of fear when he realizes he's run out onto the edge of a skyscraper roof. Whereas previous portrays have Batman always standing on the edge of a skyscraper, and casually swinging or flying to the next one, here he requires time to deploy a wingsuit and nearly gets killed trying to land.
  • Forced Friendly Fire: Batman takes out a few of the Riddler gunmen this way, once by turning a man to force his aim, another pair by dodging just as they fire at him from opposite sides.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the background of the very first scene, a TV political debate mentions Gotham's sea-wall. Not only does this tell the audience the city has a sea-wall in the first place, it's also mentioned that it's fallen into disrepair- no doubt making it easier for Riddler's men to breach it in the climax.
    • During the murder in the film's beginning, Riddler takes great care to retrieve the bloody murder tool he used to cave the Mayor's head in, though its exact shape is unclear from the blurry camera angle. At first it just appears to be because he's attempting to leave no traceable evidence, but in the film's climax, he leaves the murder tool in his apartment, in his final letter to Batman. When Riddler accidentally reveals he has a final plan still in motion even whilst he's locked up in Arkham, and he's surprised Batman never figured it out because Riddler left Batman all the clues he needed, Bruce returns to the apartment. Officer Martinez tells Batman the murder weapon is a carpet tucker, and Batman uses the tool to remove the apartment carpet, which reveals Riddler's plan to flood the city and eliminate the final "corrupt" element in the city's leadership: Mayor-Elect Bella Reál.
    • The Riddler's attack on the mayor in the beginning is filmed from his POV shot as he scans the mayoral suite through the windows, clearly getting a glimpse of the mayor playing around with his son, but despite that, he has no problems staging his gruesome, elaborate and over-the-top murder scene and leaving the mayor's body to be discovered by the next person to enter the room. It's later confirmed by Gordon that the kid was the first one to find his father's body, which absolutely traumatizes him. This shows that, unlike Batman, the Riddler only cares for the message he's sending and doesn't give a damn for the pain and suffering of innocents due to his actions. This apathy towards the common folk fuels the Riddler's final plan, to destroy Gotham by flooding it and eliminating the last remaining leading authority figure in the chaos so the city will gradually tear itself to pieces, all out of a sincere belief that his hero Batman will join him in the slaughter.
    • There are several posters of Bella Reál scattered around the city in background shots and mentions of Bella Reál's mayoral rally being held at the stadium before it becomes the centerpiece of Riddler's final plan and the stage of the Final Battle.
    • While Batman is slugging his way through the goons in the Iceberg Lounge, Kenzie appears with a gun and shouts at him to drop his weapon, which is something a police officer would do.
    • "Something in the Way" has a symbolism to it that's not apparent until late into the movie. The thing that's in the way is Gotham's sea-wall, the only thing preventing the city from being flooded...until Riddler blows it up. The lyrics also refer to a tarp "springing a leak" and animals being trapped and becoming the narrator's pets, which foreshadow the reactions of panicky people when trapped by the flood, and Batman's sense of responsibility in taking care of them. It also foreshadows the revelation Bruce has in the climax, that his vigilantism, fueled by his vengeful need for retribution on criminals, is sending the wrong message to the people of Gotham, and is "in the way" of him becoming the hero that the city needs to make a real difference to it.
    • At the Mayor's funeral, Bruce sees several protestors outside angrily yelling Riddler's "No More Lies" catchphrase and holding signs with his Arc Symbol, which showcases the ultimate threat the Riddler brings isn't the man himself, but rather the effect he has on others sympathetic to his cause with his public broadcasting of his targets' sins and corruption as justification for his actions.
    • During the funeral, Bruce notices several people who might be the Riddler, including a random angry man whose daughter died. He's not the Riddler. He's a Riddler. He also recognizes Bruce with a smile, and in the climax he reveals he was inspired by Batman, with a very similar smile on his face. Shortly after that funeral moment, Bruce saves the dead Mayor's kid from the Riddler's attack, a kid who he clearly empathizes with. In the climax, he stops the aforementioned man, and then decides to become a symbol of hope and protection. He starts by saving the exact same kid.
    • Look at the Riddler's photos. They're all shot from the exact same angle, the same spot; the apartment window he shoots Falcone from. In fact, Riddler assumed Batman had figured it out and did it on purpose.
    • Bruce briefly taunts Falcone at the mayor's funeral by alluding to the gunshot which Thomas Wayne helped him recover from. In a bit of poetic irony, Bruce ends up being the one to accidentally do him in. Little Bruce was watching from the staircase above as his dad worked, and this time, Bruce is doing the work and the Riddler does the shooting, from above, while thinking of himself as the Batman's ideological "son". Carmine even passes on with Bruce looking down on him from above as he's bleeding out, just as in his vivid recollection of the past.
    • Riddler leaves a flash drive which Gordon plugs into his laptop. This hacks the computer and leaks pictures to the press from Gordon's email. At the end of the second act, he similarly tricks Batman and Gordon into putting Falcone at the exact right spot to be shot. The first event inspires Gordon to bring down Falcone by leaking vital, inadmissible evidence to the press again, because he knows they trust him now, which gives the police a plausibly deniable reason to go arrest Falcone. It also helps that Riddler killed several of the corrupt officials who'd normally put the brakes on any such bust. Which may have been part of the point of those murders.
    • During the Batman Cold Open, the civilian that Bruce rescues from the gang that was about to victimise him is clearly more terrified of him after his brutal showing against them than the gang themselves, showcasing that he's not looked upon as a heroic figure by the masses. This comes back in a big way during the climax, wherein Bruce is hit with the revelation that Edward and his crusade as the Riddler was inspired by his own actions, and so were his followers, with one of them even parroting his own "I'm Vengeance" catchphrase back at him. During the flooding of the stadium, despite the dangerous situation many of the imperiled civilians are too afraid of Bruce to accept his aid at first, which inspires him to start becoming the Big Good that Gotham needs to uplift itself from its Crapsack World state.
      • Similarly, while it demonstrates Batman's credentials as The Dreaded to the criminal population, it also shows that this reputation is doing nothing to stop crime from happening, the criminals only running scared after they've done their dirty deeds, reinforcing that fear alone isn't helping Gotham.
    • Upon realizing that Riddler is targeting 'Bruce Wayne' for the 'Sins of the Father', Bruce immediately tries to run back to Wayne Tower and warn Alfred that he's in danger, only for his call to be instead be picked up by his housekeeper, and Bruce to be told that Alfred was caught in a letter-bomb explosion meant for him an hour ago. The same thing happens on a much grander scale by the climax, wherein Batman discovers Riddler's final plan to bomb Gotham's sea-wall and flood the city, only for the bombs to start going off the very moment he finds this out.
    • Bruce says he doesn't care what happens to him and his family's company, as long as he can keep being the Batman. Turns out his dad's unmonitored charity is responsible for much of the corruption. Maybe if Bruce had been more involved with the company, or Batman had been more of a symbol of hope, Nashton might've gone to either of them for help instead of becoming the Riddler.
    • Early in the film, Alfred notifies Bruce that some accountants are coming over to discuss some issues with the finances of the family fortune, but Bruce brushes it off. The audience is inclined to brush it off as well, as it seems to serve as nothing more than a Mythology Gag to other times that Bruce Wayne has had money issues or dealt with overly investigative accountants poking around the Wayne Foundation finances. On a rewatch, it's almost certain that the accountants are coming to tell Alfred and Bruce that the Wayne Renewal Fund, a billion-dollar investment that is supposed to last for years and years, is depleting at a rate far faster than it should... Hinting at corrupt siphoning from the money pot.
    • When kidnapping Gil Colson, Riddler hides inside his car parked right outside the Iceberg Lounge, home of several crooks and corrupt officials he's targeting as part of his crusade, showing that, like Batman, he doesn't fear the city's criminal element and is willing to take risky actions against them in order to take them down. This ties into the later reveal that the lair he broadcasts his viral messages from is located across the street from the lounge, Riddler having camped outside the Mafia's doorstep to be in a prime position to gather incriminating photos of their clientele as well as execute Falcone once Batman brought him 'into the light'.
    • When at Selina's apartment, Batman notes how many cats she has, and she admits that she has 'a thing for strays'. Selina herself turns out to be a stray, having been abandoned by her biological father Carmine Falcone after he murdered her mother. Furthermore, when she's undercover at the Iceberg Lounge, meeting Carmine face-to-face noticeably rattles her, and she has to take a moment to collect herself in the bathroom before quitting as Batman's mole inside the club. Seeing the man she (correctly) blames for her mother's death face-to-face and having him come onto her, despite her being his daughter, would unnerve anybody.
    • When Riddler finally contacts Batman through a phone taped to Gil Colson's hands, he excitedly tells him that he's been trying to reach him, and that he's 'a part of (his plans)', saying only that Batman will see what he means when he asks for further clarification. Initially, this seems to be hinting towards Riddler knowing that Bruce Wayne is Batman, as he reveals the Awful Truth about how the Wayne family's Renewal fund has been funding crime in Gotham without Bruce's oversight over his company's finances after attempting to kill Bruce with a letter bomb, holding Bruce accountable for his family's sins and marking him as another target to be removed to expose the corruption in Gotham. However, it later transpires that Riddler is completely ignorant about Bruce's secret identity and he was accidentally sending mixed messages towards what he thought were two different men. Instead, what Riddler meant was that his plans called for Batman to expose Carmine Falcone as the Rat that provided the valuable intel needed for the Maroni drugs bust and take him outside his heavily-defended Iceberg Lounge when arresting him, where Riddler is waiting to shoot him.
    • In a Freeze-Frame Bonus, Riddler livestreams one of his murders, and you can see that some people have left comments cheering him on, because they feel he's going after the right people. This not only hints that Riddler sees his killing spree as a righteous crusade against corruption, but reveals that he has fans, a fact that will become very important in the climax when some of them show up to help him carry out his last grand plan. Additionally, one of the comments says Riddler's a much better vigilante than "that goth poser," which hints that some people see Batman and Riddler as being cut from the same cloth — including, as it turns out, Riddler himself.
    • A subtle hint that Riddler has no idea that Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same person is seen in the content of his clues—specifically, the ones Batman can't solve on his own and requires outside aid to get a "Eureka!" Moment for. Both the clue in the deliberate misspelling of 'el rata alada' note  and him relying on Batman being able to recognize the intended function of the 'carpet-scraper' he murdered the mayor with show that Riddler believes Batman to be a Working-Class Hero, when in reality Bruce needs somebody with more grounded knowledge to help decipher the clue correctly. Notably, the man to identify the carpet-tucker is named Martinez, meaning that he likely would have been able to identify the poor Spanish as well.
    • The "el rata alada" clue, more specifically its deliberate misspelling, has already been implied prior to its explicit reveal by Cobblepot. Alfred cracked the code by himself and pointed out to Bruce it was written in incorrect Spanish, though he brushed it off as a simple error on the Riddler's part.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In this deleted scene turned standalone short film, when Batman consults with the Joker in prison over the Riddler murders, he hands him a file with a paper clip on it. When Joker hands back the file, the paper clip is gone, likely taken by him for use as an Improvised Lockpick to escape.
  • Gang of Hats: Batman confronts a street gang that all have matching versions of white and black face paint done up to look like Monster Clowns, a trademark of goons who work for The Joker. One member's is half done, indicating that he's an initiate into the gang rather than a full member while also resembling Two-Face.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: A realistically sized one, as once the Riddler destroys the breakwaters with car bombs, the ocean starts to flood Gotham.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong:
    • The Urban Renewal Fund was a billion-dollar fund set aside by Thomas Wayne to fund civic projects and charities, but twenty years later things only seem to be getting worse. After Wayne's death, a coalition of corrupt government officials and mobsters seized control of the unregulated fund and treated it as their personal expense account, fueling Gotham's deterioration.
    • The Batman has been active as a vigilante for two years, but violent crime rates have only climbed during this period. As he discovers late in the film, disaffected citizens like the Riddler and his followers took to heart the message that they needed to take vengeance into their own hands.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Discussed. When Batman and Gordon kidnap the Penguin, the latter asks if this is gonna be a good cop/batshit cop interrogation.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We are spared the sight of Commissioner Savage's corpse after he's killed by having arsenic injected into him after several hours of having his face eaten by rats while he's still alive.
  • Hammerspace: Batman's cape, which is smaller than usual this time around and doesn't even reach his ankles, is somehow able to fully envelop his body and then some in order to turn into a wingsuit.
  • Hand Gagging: Batman handgags Selina when a guard enters the roped-off mayor's apartment to check on the noise.
  • Harmful to Minors: The mayor was found mutilated and dead by his young son who is sitting visually upset in the next room when Batman leaves. The parallel to Bruce's own childhood trauma doesn't go unnoticed.
  • Held Gaze: Several times between Batman and Catwoman up till The Big Damn Kiss, but the first isn't actually romantic (although is presented as such for laughs)—he's checking if his tech contacts fit her.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
    • The opening of the teaser is eerily cut to the sounds of the Riddler stretching out a roll of duct tape as he prepares to wrap a guy's face in it. During his frenzied on-screen attack on the man, his Vader Breath and frenzied screeching are equally unnerving.
    • Likely intentionally invoked in-universe by Bruce himself via the Batmobile. The vehicle's engine doesn't roar like past incarnations but lets out a screech that is almost alien and demonic.
  • He Was Right There All Along: Riddler's evil lair that he broadcasts several of his videos and recorded viral messages to the public from is revealed to be an apartment across the road from the Iceberg Lounge, home of the Gotham Mafia and Riddler's primary target Carmine Falcone, and a location that Bruce visits several times both as Batman and Bruce Wayne. This reveal is actually foreshadowed by the photos and pictures Riddler sent of the Mayor and various other corrupt city leaders entering the Iceberg Lounge—all of them are taken from the same angle and location, Riddler's apartment window, but because of his cryptic clues and mind-games, everybody ended up overlooking where he'd had them taken. Justified, as Riddler wanted to be in a prime location to strike Falcone down when Batman exposed him without drawing attention to himself by creating a sniper's nest on the roof of the building, and absolutely nobody thought he'd have the brass cojones to set up shop so close to the dangerous criminals he was antagonizing.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Riddler is able to get the drop on his first victim by just standing still in the poorly lit room. His quarry doesn't notice him despite being only a few feet away.
    • He also sends photos to the news that are all taken from the exact same location, which happens to be his evil lair. Nobody realizes it until it's too late.
  • Hollywood Density: At one point Selina lifts a huge duffel bag full of cash as if it weighs nothing, when realistically, that much cash would probably weigh as much as she does.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The Riddler's first murder takes place on Halloween night, which presumably helped him with approaching the mayor's residence.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Batman says this almost word for word to Selina when she threatens to kill Falcone, stating that it would ruin her life by ending his. She wittily replies that she's got nine of them.
  • Immoral Journalist: A scumbag journalist found out that Martha Wayne's parents died in a murder-suicide and then had mental health problems for years and was going to publish all of that on the eve of the mayoral election. No political significance, nothing immoral, just yellow journalism crap.
  • Implacable Man: During the funeral, the Riddler keeps staring down as the people around him rush to the window. In the exact same scene, Bruce doesn't flinch when everyone else thinks the bomb's been triggered, and he doesn't react the same way as anyone else in the crowd. There's some pretty obvious parallels there.
  • In the Blood: The reveal that instability runs in Martha's family, the Arkhams, including Martha herself, casts a new light on Bruce's own obvious mental health struggles, especially Martha's years in and out of institutions being implicitly due to seeing her own parents killed when she was young (albeit in a murder-suicide).
  • Internal Deconstruction: By the time the film reaches its climax, it becomes apparent that the plot is one large deconstruction of Batman's '90s Anti-Hero interpretation. The Riddler is murderously envious of Bruce Wayne since he thinks his backstory of having his parents murdered is small potatoes compared to what people like him and others that grew up in poverty have had to endure, and yet the media would rather highlight Bruce's misery instead because he's wealthy and famous. Later on however, it's also revealed that the Riddler is a crazed fanboy of Batman who eats up his "I am vengeance" imagery, but grew to idolize him for all of the wrong reasons. He has such little understanding of what Batman actually believes that he fully expects him to endorse his plan to flood Gotham and purge the corruption from the city, and has a total breakdown when Batman condemns him instead. Later still after Batman defeats and captures the Riddler's followers, he discovers that one of them is a grieving father that he had encountered earlier in the film, using his own catchphrase against him to justify his actions. This causes Batman to realize that he isn't being the hero Gotham needs him to be — They don't need vengeance, they need hope. The shot of him lighting up a flare to guide the survivors of the flood out of the pitch-black stadium symbolizes him choosing to be a protector of the innocent rather than a punisher of the guilty.
  • I Owe You My Life: Deconstructed. Thomas Wayne once operated on Falcone at his own home after he was shot but couldn't risk going to a hospital. Thomas tried to cash in the debt by getting Falcone to lean on a journalist who was going to write a nasty story about Martha Wayne, but Falcone saw a chance to compromise Thomas and murdered the journalist instead.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Early in the movie, Batman shows up at the Iceberg Lounge to speak to the Penguin, asking the doorman "Do you know who I am?". After Riddler reveals dirt on Thomas Wayne related to Carmine Falcone, Bruce Wayne shows up at the club to speak to Falcone, asking, "Do you know who I am?"
    • In the climax, one of Riddler's followers answers the question "Who are you?" with "I'm vengeance!", leading Batman to realize how dark the path he's currently walking is and resolve to change for the better.
  • It Is Beyond Saving: Both the Riddler and Selina believe Gotham cannot be redeemed; anyone who claims otherwise is either lying to gain power or will die achieving nothing. Early in the film, Batman himself contemplates that he may not be able to actually help the city, but he still has to try.
  • Jump Scare: After sneaking into Mayor Mitchell's room and watching him silently, the Riddler announces himself with a sudden, loud screech before bludgeoning Mitchell to death.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Gordon audibly groans in response to the Visual Pun of a "thumb drive." With an actual thumb attached.
    Gordon: Oh, this guy is hilarious.
  • Leitmotif: The Riddler's appears to be "Ave Maria", as it's normally associated with all of his appearances and crimes once he introduces himself. He even sings it himself when Batman goes to visit him in jail.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Both Thomas and Bruce Wayne believe in Gotham and chose to bypass the government in order to provide direct aid — Thomas with the Renewal fund and Bruce with the Batman. Both generations also had their attempts backfire. The Renewal money was used to fund crime, while the Batman inadvertently radicalized the disenfranchised, creating the Riddler and his own followers.
  • Likes Clark Kent, Hates Superman:
    • Selina rants to Batman about how she despises the elites of the city for the crapsack state of Gotham, specifically calling out 'corrupt white privileged' people like Bruce Wayne as the main causes of the problem. She starts falling for Batman because of how he's putting himself on the line to help the downtrodden like her, unaware that he is Bruce Wayne.
    • Ditto with the Riddler, who deeply admires Batman, seeing him as a kindred spirit and the inspiration for his rampage against Gotham. At the same time, he utterly despises Bruce Wayne, merely for who his father was and what he represents.
    • On the flipside, Officer Martinez, like most of the rest of the GCPD, dislikes Batman (though he does warm up to him a little over the course of the story), but is very friendly around Bruce Wayne.
  • Literal Metaphor:
    • The first thing we see in the film is Riddler's perspective, literally and metaphorically looking down on the Mayor. That perspective - in both senses - is very important to the plot of the film. More specifically, the location he uses to look down on and photograph corrupt officials leaving the Iceberg Lounge is also the location of his lair. Everyone missed it and misunderstood him, because they didn't really think about his point-of-view.
    • In the film's climax, Bruce realizes that what Gotham needs most is not an avenger, but a symbol of hope. He embraces this role by lighting a flare and leading the survivors out of the stadium, becoming their "guiding light".
  • Locked Up and Left Behind: A downplayed example. After Batman and Gordon interrogate Penguin, they abandon him, still tied up.
  • Logo Joke: The Warner Bros. and DC Comics logos are shown neon red against a black background.
  • Low Clearance: Batman jumps off a skyscraper and deploys a wingsuit to glide to safety, breaking his fall with a parachute. Unfortunately, he's gliding under a bridge at the time, and the parachute gets caught on it, causing Batman to have a nasty fall.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Catwoman reveals to Batman that Falcone is her illegitimate father, and later reveals it to Falcone himself... While pointing a gun at him.
  • Make It Look Like a Struggle: Back at the police station, Batman punches Gordon in the face before making his escape so the latter will look like a victim and not an accomplice. Later Gordon complains that Batman didn't pull his punch.
    Batman: I did.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: This version of the Riddler wears a military cold-weather full-face mask — a trait which his underlings share.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Gotham mayoral candidate Bella Reál is an idealistic grassroots campaigner running on a platform of reform and change whose name translates to "beautiful royalty" while also being a reference to being "real" compared to members of the established political class, who are all corrupt. This gets emphasized by how her campaign posters in the movie pun on offering a "Reál Change".
    • Mayor Mitchell and District Attorney Colson's surnames reference two figures from the Watergate scandal, John N. Mitchell and Charles Colson; this is fitting considering both are revealed to be corrupt politicians.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Murder of the incumbent mayor by a Serial KillerThe reveal of massive systemic corruption in Gotham's government enabled by stealing funds from the Wayne family → Serial Killer and his vengeful Western Terrorists plotting to flood Gotham and kill the survivors.
  • Misaimed Fandom: In-Universe. Late in the movie, it's revealed that the Riddler and his followers were inspired by the Batman's use of fear and violence. The Riddler even assumed the Batman would approve of his actions.
  • Misery Poker: The Riddler is completely unsympathetic to Bruce Wayne being orphaned at a young age because he didn't have to grow up in a poorly funded orphanage like he and Gotham's other orphans did.
  • Misplaced Retribution: The Riddler tries to kill Bruce Wayne just because the media constantly covered his sad story of being orphaned at a young age while ignoring the underprivileged orphans like Riddler who lived at the orphanage in squalor instead of a wealthy household.
  • Mistaken from Behind: Carmine Falcone shows up at Mayor Mitchell's funeral with a date who resembles Selina Kyle from behind. Bruce confronts them and learns she is just some other woman.
  • Mook Chivalry: Zigzagged. Averted at one moment during Batman's fight with the thugs in white face paint when several of them attack him at once. Played straight for the rest of the fight where the thugs take turns.
  • Mook Horror Show: Batman likes to use these, and several fight scenes play out this way, with Batman being audible (but not visible) before unleashing particularly brutal violence. It seems to work, as one sequence shows random thugs committing crimes, only to flee in fear as soon as they see the Bat-Signal, and realize how dark their surroundings are...
  • Motive Decay: The Riddler starts out as a Well-Intentioned Extremist who uses violent methods to rid Gotham of corruption but is ultimately still trying to help the city... until he randomly decides to flood it and kill everyone carte-blanche, including the innocent and poor.
  • Mythology Gag: Enough for its own page.
     Tropes from N to Z 
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: One of Falcone's underlings calls him away from Selina with the line "You gonna want to see this", referring to the news report on TV broadcasting the recording of Falcone killing Annika.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The trailers heavily imply that the Riddler knows Bruce Wayne is Batman. Turns out Riddler was just saying Bruce's name in contemplating the fact he was the only target of his he didn't kill before getting sent to Arkham.
    • The "Bat and the Cat" trailer has a shot of the Riddler armed with a sniper rifle. That's not Edward in the suit, it's one of his followers.
    • The same trailer also has Bruce confronting Alfred for lying to him, with the latter looking down in shame. This hides the fact that the actual exchange happens in the hospital, where Alfred is recovering after getting bombed by the Riddler.
    • The trailers have shots showing Batman wading through chest-high water illuminated by the ominous red light of his flare, followed by mysterious groups of people that are undiscernible from allies or enemies. There's also a shot of a very weary Batman covered in mud staring up at the sky. The trailer's music heavily paint these as highly intense moments where Batman might be at his wits' end as the Riddler's schemes escalate. Ironically, these shots are from some of the movie's more hopeful moments; both are in the aftermath of Riddler's terrorist attack, but Batman is finally fulfilling his role as a hero by becoming a symbol of hope for the people of Gotham and saving lives in broad daylight rather than enacting vengeance in the darkness.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: A Downplayed example. During Riddler's confrontation with Batman, he assumes that Batman has already learned about his final coup and lets slip that his plans are still ongoing, giving Batman a chance to figure it out and interfere in the final stage.
  • "Nighthawks" Shot: While mirrored, the diner in which the Riddler is captured looks to have been inspired by Edward Hopper's famous 1942 painting "Nighthawks". The Riddler is seen, much like the subject of the painting, sitting alone, stirring a cup of coffee.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Bella Reál, a 29-year-old left-leaning woman of color who prefers to fix the problems in Gotham that cause crime rather than crack down on crime itself — and who wears block-color dresses and has strikingly-designed campaign posters — is a dead ringer for New York politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
  • No Endor Holocaust: The frantic car chase between Batman and Cobblepot ends when a gas tanker crashes and spectacularly goes up in flames, making Cobblepot think Batman perished in the explosion. That is obviously not the case, but afterwards nothing is said about the tanker driver or the dozens of cars behind that are not made of the same Unobtainium the Batmobile is. Batman and Gordon even let him go after interrogating him, without saying a word about the many accidents and probably fatalities caused by the car chase.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: This incarnation of the Riddler is pretty much the Zodiac Killer in a modern superhero setting. The glasses, the face-obscuring hood, the symbol on the clothing, the enigmatic ciphers, it's all there.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • The Riddler commits his first murder by bludgeoning his victim's head in with a metal utensil, but he keeps on hitting long after the man has already been knocked out.
    • Batman completely destroys an overconfident mook's face when he gets the bright idea to attack him on his own.
    • After giving himself a dose of epinephrine, Batman repeatedly punches a Riddler supporter in the face in the midst of a combat high.
  • No Party Given: Although the mayoral election between Don Mitchell and Bella Reál plays a significant role in the film, neither one of them is given a stated political affiliation. However, given that this is a municipal election, which are often officially nonpartisan, it's justified to a certain extent. That being said, Mitchell is probably a Republican, and Reál's probably a Democrat. He runs on a "law and order" platform, which has been associated with the party since they came back to national prominence in the '70s, and he's named after Richard Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell. She's a black woman (a group with whom Democrats get about 95% of the vote) and runs on a vague platform of expanding the social safety net. Contrast some comic book portrayals of Gotham as located in South Jersey, whose major real-world city, Camden, has no chance of electing a Republican analogue.
  • Not Quite Flight: The film does away with the "cape as glider" thing of some previous incarnations (most prominently the "memory cloth" of The Dark Knight Trilogy) and instead has Batman use a wingsuit (concealed in his suit) to escape from the GCPD building, in accordance with the film's more gritty/raw/mundane-looking approach. He doesn't quite stick the landing, though.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: Bruce's activities as the Batman and devotion to living out this persona 24/7 mean that he's created a mythical figure that haunts the nighttime of Gotham and curbs criminals' impulses to break the law, but it's pointed out that he's fighting a losing battle against the never-ending crime rates, which have actually been escalating ever since he started his crusade. Both Alfred and Bella Reál point out that as billionaire Bruce Wayne he could be using his company to help the city on a larger scale, rather than devoting time to his solitary personal activities. Eventually, it's revealed that Bruce's single-minded obsession with being Batman blinded him to the fact that the Wayne Renewal fund was supporting criminal activity in Gotham, and his actions as a Terror Hero have instead inspired copycats who seek to emulate his 'example' with much more lethal and destructive methods and none of his moral standards.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Selina notes that Batman assuming the worst in people makes him not so different to her after all.
    • Riddler correctly assumes that Batman is motivated by vengeance against a city that wronged him, not so different from Riddler's motive. But Riddler also sneers at the supposed pain of Bruce Wayne, because he thinks being a rich orphan barely "counts" as being one at all, especially compared to the neglected orphanage Riddler grew up in.
    • Played with when Oz first meets Batman and comments: "Boy, you're everything they say, ain't ya? I guess we both are." In this case he's saying they're both men who live up to their reputation.
  • Orphanage of Fear: The Waynes donated Wayne Manor to the city as an orphanage. Almost immediately after their deaths, the money to fund it and other outreach programs was siphoned by the mob. Edward describes growing up in the underfunded children's home in horrifying detail: 30 kids crammed into a single room, waking up screaming because rats were chewing on your fingers, and every winter at least one of the babies dying due to the cold.
  • Out of the Inferno: The Penguin, while escaping the Batmobile, gleefully cheers about how it was swallowed up in an explosion, only to look in his rearview mirror and see it shooting out of the flames, headed right towards him.
  • Paranoia Fuel: In-Universe. Batman monologues in the opening act that although he's putting criminals in their place, he's still just one man and can't realistically be everywhere in Gotham at once. However, his presence has put the fear of God into the criminal underworld. Even though he's not everywhere, he could be anywhere. This is shown with three different groups of criminals seeing the Bat Signal in the sky and then staring into the nearby darkened corners of the city nervously. Batman only shows up to confront the third group.
  • Police Are Useless: At the start of the movie some hoodlums graffitiing a city building are seemingly spotlighted by a police helicopter, but it just moves on. The trope is zigzagged once Gordon is involved; while there are police in the pay of the mobsters—some at high levels—he's also able to gather a large group of police who aren't on Falcone's payroll to arrest the mob boss.
  • Poor Communication Kills: It also was maybe the case with Thomas Wayne and Carmine Falcone. In order to protect his wife from media harassment, Thomas asked Falcone to intimidate a journalist who'd found out about her history of mental health problems into silence. Thomas never wanted Falcone to go as far as to permanently 'silence' him and was horrified that he did, with Alfred claiming that he wanted to go to the police to confess it all. Falcone, however, claims that Thomas knew what he was likely to do and accepted it, though Alfred also points out that Falcone could have deliberately used the situation to give himself leverage over Thomas. All 3 viewpoints are equally valid, but with his passing, it's impossible to parse which one is the truth.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Traditionally, the fact that Batman is able to keep the construction of the Batcave secret despite the vast number of construction personnel and materials required is one of the aspects of the mythos that is handwaved away. In this iteration, Bruce and Alfred live in a skyscraper in downtown Gotham and the Batcave is an abandoned subway station that used to service Wayne Tower. The only modification required was building an electronic door in the entrance connecting it to the subway system, something Bruce and Alfred could've plausibly done themselves.
  • Precision F-Strike: Commissioner Pete Savage tells Batman "Happy fuckin' Halloween."
  • Private Eye Monologue: While Batman is not exactly a private eye, he does do this in the beginning and end of the film as an homage to the film noir movies that it takes inspiration from. It sets the tone for the movie.
  • Psycho Serum: In the climax, a struggling Batman injects himself with a green drug that gets him back on his feet to pull a Heroic Second Wind, but it also briefly drives him berserk.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Franz Schubert's Ave Maria serves as the Riddler's leitmotif (both nondiegetically and diegetically).
  • Punk in the Trunk: Selina finds Annika's body in the trunk of a car in front of the nightclub.
  • Ramp Jump: Batman is chasing The Penguin down a crowded freeway, when The Penguin swerves and causes a truck to jackknife. Several other trucks lose control and topple over, including a tanker which explodes, and a flatbed tow truck, which becomes a convenient ramp for the Batmobile to jump the explosion.
  • Ransacked Room: Selina finds her and Annika's apartment ransacked and Annika gone.
  • The Rat: The central mystery of the film (besides the Riddler's true motives) is identity of the informant who gave crucial information to Gotham's law enforcement to bring down Sal Maroni in the biggest drug bust operation in a secret exchange for protection of their drug business. It becomes apparent that the informant's true identity is a devestating scandal that would destroy the political system of Gotham should it ever be revealed, which is why the Riddler is so hellbent on exposing the rat. It's revealed to be none other than the crime lord Carmine Falcone, who wanted to get rid of the competition in his drug business and turn every Gotham politician and lawmaker into his puppets.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: The Riddler has largely succeeded in his plans to destroy Gotham, killing all but two of his targets and who-knows-how-many bystanders in the collateral damage, there are still tons of dangerous criminals around who will undoubtedly use the situation to their advantage, and Batman acknowledges that things will probably get worse before they get better. But Batman is now coming into his own as a beacon of hope and protector for the city, there's now a new, genuinely goodhearted mayor who's determined to rebuild trust with the citizens, and the honest Gordon is still with the Gotham PD. It'll take a lot of work and time, but Batman isn't giving up on the city, because, even if he doesn't know yet if it will, he believes that it can get better.
  • Reconstruction: As stated above in the Deconstruction entry, Bruce's mission of beating up criminals and spreading fear is realistically portrayed as unhealthy and selfish, but he eventually realizes the Batman can be used as a symbol of hope instead, and decides to use his skills for helping and rebuilding, which is necessary in a now-flooded Gotham.
  • Red Herring: It seems so obvious that the Penguin would be the rat who sold out Salvatore Maroni that even Batman and Gordon jump to this conclusion. It turns out that, no, Penguin really is just Falcone's lieutenant, and an ignorant one at that. When he finds out Falcone was the rat all along, Penguin is outraged and disgusted.
  • Red Herring Twist: The film sets up Riddler knowing Bruce Wayne is the Batman, with multiple personal attacks on Bruce Wayne and the implication that he knows more about his family and his own history than Bruce himself. This comes to its climax in one of the last scenes, when Batman confronts Nashton at his Arkham cell, with Nashton chillingly enunciating "Bruce Wayne" through the glass...and then telling Batman that it was too bad they could never kill him, as he considers Wayne representative of everything wrong with Gotham, making it clear he could have made the connection between Bruce and Batman had he wanted to, but couldn't reconcile the image of the crusader that inspired him (Batman) with his own personal boogeyman (Bruce).
  • Reimagining the Artifact:
    • Catwoman uses a chain as a flail rather than the traditional bullwhip.
    • The set of three scallops on Batman's gauntlets are simple straps instead of blades awkwardly positioned to defend against knives.
    • The Riddler's gimmick of leaving behind riddles that when solved reveal his plans is reimagined as him trying to covertly communicate with Batman because he believes they are secretly on the same side. Furthermore, almost all his riddles actually relate to crimes committed by other people who the Riddler wants Batman to expose - The only exception, the riddle that reveals his plan to bomb the flood wall, was meant to give Batman enough warning to get to safety first.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • At the beginning of the film, before Riddler murders him, Mayor Mitchell is watching his election debate, and one of the things he brings up is the Renewal Fund and how Reál is against it. At first, it seems like he doesn't want to ruin Thomas Wayne's legacy by getting rid of the last thing he did before his death. After learning more about him, it's clear the reason he doesn't want to shut the fund down is because he's been stealing money from it. Furthermore, he's shown watching the replay of the debate with a pained expression on his face. Is it because Bella Reál kicked his butt and he knows it, signaling a re-election defeat and loss of mayoral status? Or is it because if Bella Reál defeats him in the mayoral race, he no longer gets access to the Renewal Fund, and she might expose the whole thing?
    • Bruce's insistence on being Batman above everything else causes him to ignore a meeting with his accountants early in the movie. Given that Riddler discovered the corruption in the Renewal Fund due to his work as an accountant, it's likely Bruce would have been handed all the answers - or at least a very big clue - if he'd gone to the meeting.
    • After the first murder, the Riddler leaves a card addressed to Batman that says, "From your secret friend." It might seem that Riddler is mocking Batman, the police, or both, or is foreshadowing something ominous. After Edward is captured, it's revealed that he truly does see Batman as a friend and ally who is helping him clean Gotham of its corruption.
    • Riddler's hideout across from the Iceberg Lounge, and him taking pictures of it, can be spotted roughly 30 minutes into the movie.
    • Riddler attaches a fireproof note addressed "to the Batman" to the bomb intended for Bruce Wayne which, instead of his usual riddles or clues, simply says "See You in hell". This initially seems like another taunt, but on a rewatch, it's clear that Riddler doesn't actually know that Bruce is Batman, and he intended for Batman to receive the note after Bruce was dead. The "hell" he was referring to was actually Arkham, since he planned to get caught and incarcerated and have Batman meet him there for interrogation, its walls providing adequate defenses for the two of them when Gotham started to flood. That it was Alfred instead of Bruce who found the bomb was pure luck.
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • Late in the film, Gotham City is flooded after the Riddler uses demolitions to destroy a sea wall, and thousands of Gothamites rush to seek shelter at a sporting arena situated on higher ground. This is very reminiscent of what happened in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Not to mention the well-established scientific fact that many more coastal cities are destined for similar fates once the effects of climate change really get going.
    • The way Riddler supporters organize themselves through online message boards is intentionally similar to extremist groups radicalizing online.
    • The Riddler's hand-written cipher messages, in what appears to be an alphabet of his own invention, is clearly meant to invoke the real life Zodiac Serial Killer. The botched Spanish in one of the Riddler's messages seems like a nod to the many spelling errors the Zodiac Killer would leave in his own messages, although it turns out to be something else.
    • The way the Renewal fund was looted and misdirected echoes the way pandemic relief funds fraudulently went to major corporations rather than the small businesses and individuals they were intended for.
    • The Riddler ordering Colson to drive his car into the crowd — made up largely of protesters — at Mitchell's funeral echoes the US's disturbing modern trend of counter-protesters driving their cars into crowds of social justice protesters.
  • Rule of Symbolism: When Batman falls into the floodwater after severing the power lines, the loss of power and damage to the stadium plunges the place into pitch-darkness. Despite being in his element, Batman lights up a flare to provide a guiding light to the imperiled civilians and guide them out of the darkness towards the light, dispelling their fear of him. This showcases Bruce's decision to become a Hope Bringer for the city rather than remain a Terror Hero who can only inspire fear in those around him, even the ones he seeks to protect. It's also a baptism for his rebirth into heroism.
  • Running Gag:
    • Batman's Stealth Hi/Bye, particularly pulling Stealth Hi's on Selina every time she's in the midst of a heist.
    • Bruce's encounters with the Iceberg Lounge bouncer twins.
      • The first time he meets the first twin (as Batman) he says that it should be obvious who he is. The twin agrees, slams the door on him, only to come back with his brother to attempt to chase Batman off.
      • The second time he meets them (as Bruce) he pulls the same line. Again the same twin confirms he recognizes Bruce Wayne, slams the door on him, and comes back with his brother again to gander over the sight of Bruce coming to a place as shady as this.
      • The third time he comes to the Iceberg Lounge he knocks on the door and the same twin opens it, but this time Bruce outright avoids the confrontation and just sneaks in while he's distracted.
  • Saying Too Much: Edward's Villainous Breakdown when Batman rejects him causes him to blurt out that he still has a final step to his plan that's ongoing and will cause mass destruction, something that Edward thought Batman already knew. Though he shuts up once he realizes this, Batman swiftly returns to his apartment and finds his final message to him detailing his plan to flood the city and assassinate Bella Reál at the same time. While Batman is too late to stop the bombs exploding, he is able to make it in time to save her life as well as the lives of many people in the stadium, and allow her to become a rallying figure for Gotham citizens in the aftermath.
  • Seeking the Missing, Finding the Dead: Selina is desperate to find her friend Annika after she goes missing, fearing for her safety. Her concerns turn out to be completely justified when Annika turns up strangled to death. In fact, she died the very night she was taken from their apartment.
  • Sequel Hook: Riddler is defeated, Falcone is dead, and Gotham has elected a new mayor, but Gotham is flooded, martial law is in effect and criminals (like the Penguin) will try to seize power. Batman is ready to begin a long and difficult new mission to protect Gotham's citizens. The Joker is obliquely introduced, although it's unclear if his role will be expanded for a sequel and the district attorney is dead, though likewise, it is unclear if Harvey Dent will be featured in a sequel.
  • Sequencing Deception: After realizing that he is the Riddler's next target, Bruce rushes back to Wayne Tower and calls Alfred from his car to warn him. The scene cuts back and forth from Bruce to Alfred sorting Bruce's mail which includes a package from the Riddler in a fireproof container, seemingly ignoring the ringing phone. When Dory finally picks up and Bruce tells her that something terrible is about to happen, she reveals that it already has. We then see smoke coming from Wayne Tower as Bruce arrives, Alfred having opened the package — a bomb — and getting caught in the explosion, an hour before Bruce ever called.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: After the bomb explodes at the funeral hurling Batman across the room, a dull ringing sound is all we hear from his perspective.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: This version of the Batsuit is completely bulletproof, allowing Batman to shrug off gunfire up to automatic assault rifles. However, being blasted at point-blank range with a double-barrelled shotgun to the chest puts him out of commission for a few minutes, and he would've been killed right afterwards had Selina not arrived in the nick of time. He's forced to use some sort of psychoactive stimulant to keep going.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A police officer jokingly calls Batman Zorro, one of the clear inspirations for the character.note 
    • Alfred refers to his past as an intelligence officer, referring to British intelligence as "the Circus," a name used in John le Carré novels.
    • Alfred's methodology for cracking the Riddler's cypher, starting with "looking for double symbols", recalls the scene in Film/Zodiac where Robert Graysmith explains how he decoded a message from the Zodiac Killer.
    • Bruce stalking the streets, looking for random criminals that the Batman can pounce upon as his journal entry narrates is very reminiscent of Rorshach's patrol scenes in Watchmen.
    • Selina asking if Bruce wears the mask to hide facial scars is not the first time a Man in Black has been asked that.
    • Edward Nashton references High and Low (1963) when he discusses how he resents the media for covering privileged orphan Bruce Wayne but not underprivileged orphans. John Turturro specifically asked Matt Reeves this and Reeves confirmed the reference. There is also a The Batman Adventures Comic involving the Riddler and Kurosawa.
    • The Riddler's rat cage helmet contraption seems directly lifted from Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is perhaps fitting, as that story's version of the device was also used on a government official.
    • Edward Nashton's arrest bears some similarities to the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald. Both are picked up after a gunman with a rifle assassinates someone. Nashton has IDs with two different names when he's arrested; Oswald had a second ID card in the name of "Alek Hiddell". Both are asked which one is them, but refuse to give a straight answer. Oswald's answer was, "You figure it out;" Nashton says, "You tell me."
    • Bruce's "drifter" outfit (a dark coat, baseball cap, and a bandana worn over his mouth and nose) makes him look very similar to Aiden Pearce from Watch_Dogs.
    • The mechanism Batman uses for deploying his grapnel gun is inspired by the gun sleeve from Taxi Driver. It also works similarly to the hidden blade from Assassin's Creed.
    • The deleted scene where Batman consults the Joker on the case is a reference to Manhunter, where Lecktor similarly gets inside Will Graham's head with only a few choice words. It even has Bruce offering to let him read the case file (with photographs, which Joker shows interest in) as incentive to help, and handing him the documents through a sliding tray in the partition.
  • Sinister Suffocation: Falcone begins to strangle Selina after being confronted. They start out using a stick, and when that's shoved away, they just start strangling them with their bare hands, and would've gotten the kill if Batman hadn't shown up. What sells this is Falcone taunting her about how she brought it upon herself, just like her mother.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Invoked word-for-word when the Riddler targets Bruce Wayne for the actions of his long-dead father.
  • Smokescreen Crime: This is implied to be the case with the deaths of Bruce's parents. Initially, it is believed that Thomas and Martha Wayne were killed in a mugging gone wrong. However, Bruce uncovers that Martha had a past of mental illness, and a journalist was planning to expose this despite Thomas begging him not to. In a moment of desperation, Thomas went to Carmine Falcone for help, who had the journalist killed. It is suggested that Falcone had Thomas killed to keep him from going public about Falcone's crimes, but the movie never makes this clear.
  • Social Media Before Reason: One of the thugs with white face paint that Batman confronts films the whole thing with his phone, right before Batman's brutal beatdown on the gang member who dared to attack him.
  • Social Media Is Bad: Riddler has a whole cult of followers on an encrypted social media platform on the dark web, filming messages to recruit them into participating in his terrorist attack.
  • Stacked Characters Poster: The movie poster shows a pyramid with the Riddler, Penguin and Selina at the bottom and Batman on top.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Batman pulls this on Gordon (naturally) at the orphanage, but it's actually justified as he's just realised that Alfred is in danger and is rushing off to warn him. Selina also complains about Batman sneaking up on her.
  • The Stinger: An interesting subversion. Instead of an actual scene after the credits, the Riddler, in the same manner he messaged Batman and Gordon after they subdued the Penguin, types out "GOOD BYE" before it glitches out, with "" flashing on-screen for a split second. Going to that site (around the time of the original theatrical release, at least) leads the viewer to another coded message, which when decoded reads out a threat of his return.
  • The Stool Pigeon: It is eventually revealed that someone important sold out big-time drug lord Sal Maroni to the cops decades ago, and now many of Gotham's authority figures are protecting them. Batman even assumes Riddler's "rat with wings" is talking about a "stool pigeon". Batman and Gordon assume it is referring to a bird, but wrongly suspect the Penguin instead of Falcone first.
  • Straight for the Commander: Played with and ultimately deconstructed. By the start of the film, Batman has made a point to only go after certain higher-profile targets to both maximize his efficacy and better spread fear among the lesser street criminals, trusting that his legend alone will make them think twice before they try anything; while it does, he's made very little impact at the top level — the GCPD is still dirty and Falcone remains in power. The Batman being seen exclusively as a terror figure attacking the architects of corruption and rot in Gotham also helps inspire Riddler, and deludes him into thinking they're on the same side.
  • Superhero Movie Villains Die: Falcone is killed at the end of the second act. Averted with the rest of Batman's classic Rogues Gallery, who all lived to the end of the movie.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Batman can No-Sell bullets all day long, but a heavy buckshot charge at point-blank range is another story altogether.
    • The Batmobile, an armored and jet-powered muscle car, handles like an aircraft carrier. Penguin doesn't have a hard time outmaneuvering it during the chase scene, and the only reason Batman can keep up with him is the car's raw speed in a straight line.
    • The Gotham Urban Renewal Fund that was set up by Thomas Wayne. Thomas genuinely believed that having money freely available with no government restrictions would be the best way to get it to the needy. Of course, no restrictions also means no oversight — and after Thomas is murdered the fund is quickly seized by corrupt officials and turned into dirty money because there was no oversight to ensure it wasn't misused.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: At the end of the movie, dozen of terorists manage to get over the stage and shoot a barrage of bullets on the people below. Gotham Police is very corrupt and incompetent indeed. After those high-profiled murders, you think security would have been their number one concern.
  • Symbolic Baptism: In the climax, Batman falls into the water that poured into the stadium after cutting the electrical cable that threatened to electrocute the people below, then emerges, no longer "Vengeance", but reborn as a Hope Bringer.
  • Terms of Endangerment: The Riddler refers to himself as "your secret friend" in his messages to Batman. Actually Subverted, in that the Riddler genuinely believes he is Batman's friend.
  • Terror Hero: The film heavily emphasizes Batman's use of intimidation tactics and their effect on Gotham's underworld. His introductory scene shows several criminals freezing in fear at the mere sight of the Bat Signal in the sky and glancing nervously at dark corners, afraid that Batman might be lurking in the shadows and could step out at any moment, and when he delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to a group of thugs attempting to beat up an innocent bystander, the latter seems more afraid of him than of his assailants. Ultimately, Batman's philosophy of using fear as a tool is deconstructed, as his aggressive vigilantism directly inspired Riddler and his followers to go on their own, murderous crusade against Gotham's corrupt elites. Once he realizes this, Batman aspires to be more of a Cape than a Cowl.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Once the Batmobile fires up, The Penguin gives a masterclass in the slow realization that he is boned.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The bombing of Gotham Harbor and subsequent flooding of the city is a major plot development, but it was included prominently in the later part of the film's marketing campaign, albeit out of context.
    • The October 2021 trailer includes many important scenes taken out of context, such as the bombing of Gotham Harbor, the arrest and interrogation of the Riddler (though the trailer doesn't show his unmasked face), footage from the car chase with the Penguin (including its conclusion), and a shot from the movie's ending featuring the Penguin looking at the ruined town from his office.
  • Truer to the Text: The film features many comic elements that tend to be removed or downplayed in other film adaptations. Batman has a rather clear code against killing, he works publicly with the police and is regarded as a cog in the city's law enforcement (though he's distrusted in the role), and he has a clear soft spot for kids and a degree of empathy for his villains. Additionally, the film ignores the origin story aspect entirely in favor of beginning In Medias Res with a Batman who's already been active in his career for some time, and is largely a simple detective story, making it far more reminiscent of a typical Batman story from the comics.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: In the grand tradition of Batman media, the titular caped crusader has a lot of UST with Selina Kyle. The two are obviously into each other, but circumstances (secret identities, trust issues, trauma, a killing spree happening around them, etc.) mean that just going on a date and seeing how it goes isn't really in the cards. They kiss twice, and Selina Kyle, at least, isn't trying to hide her feelings for Batman, but they don't get together, partially because he won't leave Gotham, which she sees as a lost cause. She sadly acknowledges that he's already spoken for.
  • Vader Breath: When speaking through his mask via video-call, Riddler's breathing is quite audible.
  • Vice City: Gotham City has always been depicted as a crapsack town with its high crime rate and corrupt authority figures, and this iteration pulls no punches in this regard. The biggest example is how Carmine Falcone has been running Gotham for the past two decades, as he along with Sal Maroni and the mayor have been stealing money off the Gotham Renewal Fund left by Thomas Wayne following his death. It was only made worse when Falcone ratted out Maroni's drug operation to the cops, half of whom became his beneficiaries, to get more of the profit, thus fabricating the biggest drug bust in GCPD history.
  • Vigilante Injustice: Batman's vigilantism and Terror Hero persona is deconstructed heavily. Not only does it simply cause fear among the populace rather than prevent crime from occurring, but most of the police don't trust him, and even suspect him as a potential murder suspect. The Riddler compares himself to Batman a lot, as they both want to take down the system destroying Gotham, and scare people in order to do it. Batman manages to turn his reputation around at the end, however, by acting as a hopebringer for people during a crisis, rather than just someone who hurts people.
  • Villain Reveals the Secret: Subverted. The film initially makes it seem, to both the audience and to Batman, that Riddler has not only worked out Batman's secret identity but will eventually publicly reveal it, much as he revealed the Awful Truth about Thomas and Martha Wayne. This theory is bolstered by Riddler having sent a letter bomb to Bruce's office and bringing up Bruce Wayne when Batman comes to interrogate him. The more Riddler talks, however, it becomes clear that Riddler has nothing but resentment and loathing for Bruce Wayne, and has never given Batman's identity a moment's thought, considering the Batman masks his true face.
  • Villainous Friendship: At the end of the film, the still-incarcerated Edward begins bonding with the inmate next door, who sympathizes with him and seemingly shares his love for riddles. The scene ends with the two sharing a laugh together; the inmate's creepy cackle is enough to tell you who he actually is.
  • Villainous Gentrification: A significant portion of the plot revolves around the Renewal Fund, a long-running project to redevelop depressed parts of Gotham City started by the late Thomas Wayne when he ran for mayor. In practice the operating budget has become a slush fund for the city's powerful and unscrupulous, in particular The Mafia under Carmine Falcone who uses it to launder money, while providing so little actual benefit to the city that current mayoral candidate Bella Reál is openly calling for the project to be cancelled altogether.
  • Visual Pun:
    • In his first murder, the Riddler cuts off one of his victim's thumbs. The police initially think he took it as a trophy, but Batman later finds the thumb attached to a USB stick in the victim's car; it's a thumb-drive. Gordon loudly groans when Batman points it out.
    • When Batman and Gordon leave Penguin zip-tied under the Gotham Bridge, his lack of mobility forces him to waddle like his namesake.
  • We Are Everywhere:
    • Bruce outlines during the Batman Cold Open that part of the reason for his Terror Hero antics is to invoke this idea on himself — as fearsome and skilled a fighter he is, and for all the criminals he's stopped, he's ultimately just one man in a city that suffers a thousand acts of law-breaking a night. He realistically can't stop every criminal in Gotham all by himself. But if the superstitious criminals of the underworld think that he's more than a man, that he's capable of watching them from every dark corner of the night, waiting to pounce when they cross the line, then they'll think twice before doing so. Noticeably, it's showcased that this is having an effect on the crime rates in Gotham, even if Bruce's reputation hasn't quite gotten to the mythical proportions he's aiming for yet.
    • The Riddler evokes this at the end of the film, with his last online video urging his followers to continue his work after he gets arrested by the GCPD. His followers all dress up like Riddler, and in costume they look virtually identical to one another. To the untrained eye, it would appear that the Riddler is now everywhere at the same time. This is foreshadowed in the funeral scene, where Bruce looks for possible Riddler suspects in the crowd only to realize that there are many angry people who fit the profile of the Riddler.
  • Western Terrorists: The Riddler himself. Riddler's followers are a group of people who were radicalized online who cause a disaster to get a better shooting opportunity at the newly elected young mayor Reál, refusing to believe she'd make any changes in Gotham.
  • Wham Line:
    • When Selina reveals the truth about her relationship with Falcone.
      Batman: I want to know why a guy like Falcone would owe you anything.
      Selina: Because he's my father!
    • This exchange between Batman and the Riddler in their one scene together completely flips the entire preceding conversation on its head, and starts a crucial shift in Batman's philosophy as a crime-fighter.
      The Riddler: Bruce Wayne... He's the only one we didn't get. But we got the rest of them, didn't we?
    • Batman realizes that he's been sending the wrong message when he hears one of Riddler's goons explain his motivations:
      James Gordon: Who the hell are you?
      Bitter Nobody: Me? I'm vengeance.
    • A major one when the Riddler makes a new "friend" in Arkham Asylum:
      Arkham Inmate: What is it they say? One day, you're on top. The next, you're a clown.
  • Wham Shot: When Alfred opens up the package the Riddler sent to Bruce Wayne and the obligatory envelope is wrapped in a fireproof cloth. A few seconds later, the package explodes.
  • When It Rains, It Pours: Seriously, when it rains, it rains hard, with a barrage of huge droplets falling onto characters and puddles covering the ground. At the very least Gotham doesn't have a drought problem.
  • Worthy Opponent: Subverted. They think Batman is Riddler's foe... Riddler thinks the Batman is his ally.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Alfred and Bella Reál try to convince Bruce of this at different points in the story, telling him that he can do more for the city as the billionaire heir of the Wayne family than he can by devoting himself to his solitary activities. He doesn't put this into practice until the climax, realizing that he cannot save the imperiled civilians of Gotham as a Terror Hero and instead deciding to become a Hope Bringer to save them and the city in its hour of need.
  • You Are Too Late:
    • When Batman realizes that the Riddler's next target is Bruce Wayne, he races back to Wayne Tower to warn Alfred, only to be told by his maid over the phone that his warning is an hour late: Riddler sent a mail bomb to the home, Alfred opened the package, and, only through quick reflexes, barely managed to survive the blast.
    • Batman isn't able to figure out the grand finale of Riddler's plan until it's well underway. He discovers Riddler's plan to bomb Gotham's floodgates just as the bombs are going off. He only just arrives in time to thwart the mass shooting, and it's only by luck the mayor-elect survives the first shot during her attempted assassination. The Riddler thought Batman would understand his riddle, because he expected Batman to recognize a Carpet Puller. Batman didn't even think twice about what the tool actually is nor as billionaire Bruce Wayne had he even seen one before. This again calls out the class difference between Riddler and Batman, one Riddler was completely blind to because of his animosity towards wealthy people, especially Bruce Wayne.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Batman is unable to stop any major step of the Riddler's grand plan (the murders of the corrupt officials, the radicalization of Gotham's impoverished, and the flooding of downtown) except for the crucial final step: the massacre of Gotham's elites and the new mayor-elect by his followers. Batman arrives just in time to subdue them before they can kill anyone.
  • You Got Murder: Riddler attempts to kill Bruce Wayne with a package bomb delivered to Wayne Tower. Bruce wasn't home, so Alfred opened the package instead. He notices that it's a bomb in the nick of time and hurls it away, so that the blast hospitalizes, rather than kills him.
  • You're Not My Father: This is Bruce's retort to Alfred when the latter tries to talk some sense into him regarding neglected legal matters of the family business.

"Wednesday, November 6th... I can already see — things will get worse before they get better, and some will seize the chance to grab everything they can. I'm starting to see now... I have had an effect here, but not the one I intended. Vengeance won't change the past — mine, or anyone else's. I have to become more. People need hope, to know someone's out there for them. The city's angry, scarred, like me. Our scars can destroy us, even after the physical wounds have healed. But if we survive them, they can transform us. They can give us the power to endure, and the strength to fight."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Batman 2021


I Am the Shadows

As the Bat signal appears over Gotham City in "The Batman," Batman narrates that criminals think that he hides in the shadows, but that he is the shadows.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / IAmTheNoun

Media sources: