Why The Batman’s Ending Has Critics And Fans So Divided
After months and months of increasingly feverish anticipation, “The Batman” is finally in theaters near you, and as with all superhero tentpoles, that means that anticipation has been replaced by discussion over the movie’s flaws and merits that’s even more feverish.
If you’ve already managed to catch the movie, you know it has a somewhat more intricate plot structure than a typical superhero movie, with a twisting, complex mystery that places Batman at the center of a tangled crime saga with multiple hidden motivations and misdirects. It also has an unusual ending, in that the story continues after the film’s principal antagonist The Riddler (a creepy, antisocial Paul Dano) has been captured by the Batman and Gotham City PD and placed in jail.
Viewers used to the conventions of Batman movies would have been right to expect the Riddler to break out for the film’s climax, but that isn’t what happens — at least not physically — and the whole thing has viewers divided over whether the film’s explosive final act really works, with some praising its excitement and thematic necessity, and others calling it both underwhelming and out of sync with the relatively small scale and scope of the rest of the movie.
Some think The Batman should have ended with the Riddler's arrest
On the subreddit dedicated to discussion of “The Batman,” the “Batman Discussion Megathread” is hopping with takes and countertakes on every element of the movie imaginable. That includes one fan’s pertinent question about “why some critics thought the movie should have ended when Riddler was arrested,” even though in their opinion the ending as is “is so satisfying, and really is necessary for Batman’s arc in the film,” as well as in any sequels that might come around in the future.
Some agree, calling the proposed truncated ending “underwhelming.” The notion of the Riddler’s master plot ending with his arrest might not be out of place in a traditional mystery novel, but a Batman feature film does require a certain amount of action in the climax — and Riddler’s plot to blow up Gotham City’s seawalls and trap the city’s elite in a coordinated mass shooting certainly delivers that. But the ending delivers more than just obligatory spectacle. Batman’s reaction to seeing some of himself reflected in Riddler’s psychopathic gang is important for his character development.
As another pro-ending fan puts it: “when that last guy says he’s vengeance you totally see Batman’s whole demeanor change, which I think he is going to turn him into a more forgiving Batman like we are used to. Without that last act future movies would jump emotions too much” in order to depict the more traditionally heroic Batman.
Still, other fans make compelling points about weaknesses in the ending. One cites the dissonance between the movie’s small, detective story vibe and the “giant disaster” of the climax: “I enjoyed it but I think it’s a valid criticism to go from a slow moving detective thing to a disaster movie not working for some.”
The Batman's runtime makes some viewers especially critical
At a whopping 175 minutes, “The Batman” is the longest Batman feature film ever made, and one of the longest in the superhero genre. Some viewers have complaints about the ending that simply boil down what they see as the film’s excessive length. “It definitely should have. Movie was wayyyy too long with not enough action,” says one critical viewer. Another even harsher fan says “[t]here needs to be another cut. Last hour was utter dogs***.”
Some fans of the film’s ending take a more analytical approach, seeing the potential for future installments of “The Batman” saga. With Gotham City partially underwater and martial law in effect, one fan sees the potential for a future Batman adventure depicting the Dark Knight “trying to take back the city,” with new villains and allies entering the picture (Killer Croc is cited as being especially well suited to a sequel to “The Batman,” thanks to the flood). Others took issue with what they say is the abrupt nature of the threat, and that the sea walls protecting Gotham are set up inadequately: “wait, what just happened? Why did this explosions suddenly make the city flood?”
Fan discussion of the ending of “The Batman” is ongoing, with new comments and takes being added even as we speak. Like the Riddler’s plot to destroy Gotham, you can expect this conversation to continue for quite a while, as more and more people take in the film in the following days and weeks.