No, your eyes aren't getting worse. You practically need echolocation to see anything in the new Batman trailer.
Fifteen years and three Batmans since director Christopher Nolan forever changed (cursed?) superhero movies with his "dark, gritty re-imagining" of the Batman franchise, it seems Bruce Wayne has still failed to invest in better lightbulbs. Matt Reeves' The Batman, out next year, evidently follows in its predecessor's footsteps by under-lighting the set for the sake of "realism" and "atmosphere."
(There is allegedly a Batman in all of these frames | Warner Bros. Pictures)
Darkness might be Batman's ally, but it's not home viewers'; a recent spate of dark TV shows has made audiences really annoyed. "It was so dark that I hadn't a clue what was going on for like 90 percent of the episode," one TVLine reader complained about The Walking Dead's Season 9 midseason finale. While the murkiness might be justifiable in some instances, overuse is rampant. "Periods of darkness are vital visual tools, which do so much to create mood and delineate space and time," Vulture has written. But "[w]hen an entire episode of Jessica Jones is filmed in unrelenting noir shadows … the effect is lost."
After Game of Thrones' Battle of Winterfell episode last year, many websites ran articles about how to adjust your TV settings to properly view the visuals. "A lot of people … unfortunately watch it on small iPads, which in no way can do justice to a show like that anyway," cinematographer Fabien Wagner had complained of the criticism. Fine, but viewers should still be able to enjoy a show without blackout curtains and a special $1,600 TV.
Television's turn toward the dark side is frequently an attempt to be "more cinematic," which brings us back to The Batman. Audiences can fairly be expected to go to a movie theater for an optimal viewing experience. But exhibitors are letting fans down there too: most cineplexes no longer bother to remove the lenses used for projecting 3D movies when showing 2D movies like The Batman; those lenses, though, "can take away as much as 85 percent of the light that reaches the screen," Deadline reports. That means The Batman could actually be even darker when you go to see it in theaters.
It's a shame directors need to start taking into account that audiences are probably watching their movies in suboptimal conditions. But for my poor, straining eyes, would the last Batman to leave the set please turn on the lights?
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