Is it just me, or is The Batman a terrible detective?

The Batman
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

"What has yellow skin and writes?” “A ballpoint banana!” The riddles may have grown more sinister since 1966’s Batman: The Movie, but they’ve never required Sherlock-level deduction skills to solve.

Instead, subsequent Bat-movies have eschewed the character’s detective roots to focus on dead parents and wonderful toys, rarely getting past the basic narrative of Bats punching colourful lunatics in the head.

Sure, the comics’ ‘World’s Greatest Detective’ tag has been paid lip service over the years. But things have rarely gone much deeper than easy puzzles and an obligatory bit of Bruce Wayne legwork. Detective Batman has stagnated, relying instead on absurd technology or calling Alfred at home to google the answers. Our hero has become stupider, failing to see through Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter (The Dark Knight Rises) and, in BVS, being manipulated by Lex Luthor into beating up Superman.

Citing All the President’s Men (1976) as inspiration, director Matt Reeves aimed to redress the balance, describing The Batman as a detective story at its core. In fighting the Riddler, Robert Pattinson’s Batman uncovers a citywide network of bent coppers and shady politicians. However, much of his detective work doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, with the Dark Knight clumsily stumbling across answers and having others do all the real work.

Time and again, Battinson fails to solve Riddler’s puzzles until after the fact. It’s only the convenient use of a bomb instead of Riddler’s usual MO that saves Alfred’s life. R-Batz may ultimately save the mayor elect from assassination, but that’s testament to his armour-plated biceps rather than his brain.

Indeed, it’s the uniformed cop who clues Batman into the significance of that carpet tool, leading Batman to uncover Riddler’s endgame – again, too late to stop the bulk of it. What does Bats accomplish? Gotham is flooded and Riddler essentially turns himself in, most of his targets dead. All told, The Batman is a pretty hopeless detective… or is it just me?