In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for The Batman, we will explain the film’s ending.
- Robert Pattinson – Bruce Wayne / Batman
- Zoë Kravitz – Selina Kyle / Catwoman
- Paul Dano – Edward Nashton / Riddler
- Jeffrey Wright – James Gordon
- John Turturro – Carmine Falcone
- Peter Sarsgaard – Gil Colson
- Andy Serkis – Alfred Pennyworth
- Colin Farrell – Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot / Penguin
- Jayme Lawson – Bella Reál
- Peter Craig – Writer
- Matt Reeves – Writer and director
The end of The Batman explained
At the end of The Batman, Bruce leads survivors through a flooded building and back out into the streets. With much of the roads underwater and a rebuild process underway, Bruce reads this diary entry as we watch him help people find comfort in the mess:
Wednesday, November 6th. The city is underwater. The national Guard is coming. Martial law is in effect, but the criminal element never sleeps. Looting and lawlessness will be rampant in the parts of the city no one can get to. I can already see that 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.”
During that monologue, Bella Reál gives this speech to a crowd: “We will rebuild. But not just our city. We must rebuild people’s faith in our institutions, in our elected officials, in each other. Together, we will learn to believe in Gotham again.”
We then cut to Riddler in jail. He moans and cries, tortured by his foiled plan. Then from another cell, we hear another man speaking to Riddler—a man we’ll soon learn is The Joker. He says: “Isn’t that just terrible. Him…raining on your parade like that? What is it they say? One day you’re on top…the next, you’re a clown. Well…let me tell you, there are worse things to be. Hey, hey, hey. Don’t be sad. You did so well. And you know, Gotham loves a comeback story.”
“Who are you?” Riddler asks.
“Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? Riddle me this: the less of them you have, the more one is worth.”
“A friend,” Riddler answers. They both starting laughing maniacally.
We then cut to Selina and Bruce standing on a ledge next to their motorcycles. Selina asks Bruce to run away with her. “You know this place is never going to change,” she says to Bruce. “With Carmine gone, it’s only going to get worse for you. There’s going to be a power grab. It’ll be bloody.”
“I know,” responds Bruce. “But the city can change.”
“I have to try.”
“It’s going to kill you eventually. You know that.” Selina then steps towards Batman and says, “Listen. Why don’t you come with me. Get into some trouble. Knock off some CEO hedge fund types. It’ll be fun. The cat and the bat. It’s got a nice ring.”
Bruce then turns his gaze to the sky, and Selina turns to see the bat signal resting in the clouds. “Who am I kidding,” she says. “You’re already spoke for.”
Selina then rides off on her motorcycle, and she’s soon followed by Bruce. They ride together through a graveyard, over a bridge, and onto a road. When they reach an intersection, they part ways—Selina away from the disarray of Gotham, and Bruce back in to try and fix it.
Several things happen here at the end. The conversation between Riddler and The Joker is likely in service of the plot for the sequel, as we can assume they will both escape from prison and wreak havoc on Gotham. But altogether, everything that happens at the end of The Batman is in service to Bruce’s journey and the thematic meat of the film (with Bella Reál’s speech serving as a societal extension of his storyline).
As discussed in the Themes and Meaning section, renewal is the biggest theme of The Batman. Bruce’s motives for becoming Batman are vengeful, as he seeks to punish the criminals of Gotham that he blames for his father’s death. But Bruce’s journey also involves a sort of rebirth—similar to the renewal that Gotham must undergo to find peace. Thomas Wayne’s Renewal Project may be dead, but Bruce can continue his father’s legacy in his own way. Bruce can be a judicious superhero while still remaining compassionate and social human being. By ceasing his hermit ways and becoming a member of Gotham, he can enact real, meaningful, lasting change.
In many ways, this journey reflects the current state of the world. Society is torn apart by politics and ideology. People feel cheated and burned, and thus become vengeful about those whom they perceive as “others,” those who have reap more benefits of society. This mentality drives malicious and mean-spirited sentiments that become part of the zeitgeist and define the culture.
But The Batman argues that you don’t have to fall prey to such negativity. You can stave off such cynicism and find your own inner peace; you can emit a comforting voice amidst the clutter that reaches people and gives them comfort, gives them hope. An empathetic ear, a compassionate and understanding tone can bring people together. Individually, we can do our parts in fixing such a monumental mess.
All three of the above scenes speak to that. We hear Bruce verbally confirming this journey as he helps people; then the Riddler and Joker (as well as Penguin, whom we see during Bruce’s monologue) represent the ugly, undeniable reality—they all speak to the inescapable evil and destruction that awaits around every corner, that will continue to tempt the worst parts of our being; and finally, Selina represents the ability to turn a blind eye, to remain silent, to live your life in solitude as the world rips itself apart.
All of these endings perfectly set up another Batman movie. After this arduous journey, will Bruce be able to keep a focused gaze? Can he remember what his father was fighting for and keep positive energy? Or will evil or passivity win out?
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