The third film of the DC Universe Animated Originals slate is also the first “real” introduction to Batman in DC’s more adult-oriented animation… and they made such an interesting and bold choice.
Instead of getting the same rehashed origin story and watching Bruce Wayne’s parents get gunned down by Joe Chill again, someone at DC had the bright idea to instead make an anthology of interconnected short stories.
Six shorts fill the running time of just 76 minutes. The shorts are produced by four different prominent Japanese animation studios (Studio 4°C, Madhouse, Production I.G, and Bee Train) and each short highlights the myth of Batman in different ways.
This first short is told from the P.O.V. of skateboarding kids who have all claimed to have seen Batman. They each tell variations of their own interpretation of Batman, and we’re treated to wonderful animations of each of them.
One kid sees Batman as a literal shadow monster that appears at will and dissipates in an instant.
Another kid sees him more as an actual Bat/Man monster hybrid while another sees him as a robot. It’s a great story to kick off the anthology as it reinforces the mythical and superhuman nature of Batman. Although the film is standalone of separate shorts, they do tie together.
If anime or anthologies aren’t your things, at least take the time to watch the final short in the series. It has Batman facing off against one of the best renditions of Deadshot. It has the badass distinction of having Batman legit deflect a bullet by Deadshot. So cool.
Not only is just a “cool moment” to see, but it also has a lot of plot and story purpose. Bruce Wayne at one point references the death of his parents and said: “I’ve been trying to stop those two bullets all my life.”
And here, he finally does. He actually stops a bullet, and saves one of his closest “friends” and allies.
Like Justice League: The Final Frontier, this film absolutely earns its PG-13 rating. There are a few shocking segments where people get legit mowed down by automatic gunfire. It was appropriate to story and not excessive, but it was absolutely jarring.
I’m not used to seeing Batman in a “real” violent world. Usually, the violence in Batman is implied or off screen, we never see the blood itself. Not so in Batman: Gotham Knight.
OTHER NOTABLE MOMENTS
- While we technically were introduced to a version of Batman and Robin in the standalone Justice League: The Final Frontier, Batman flies solo in this one.
- I thought the stories were original but most of them are adapted from old one-shots and short stories.
- National treasure Kevin Conroy returns to take up the voice mantle of Batman. He will forever and always be “my” Batman due to The Animated Series from the 1990s.
- Deadshot is a low key a GREAT villain for Batman in general just because Batman’s rule is no killing and no guns. Deadshot is both pro-killing and pro-guns. It’s nice to see those two ideals face off.
- Seeing Batman drawn anime style was fun, but seeing spiky-banged Bruce Wayne anime style really threw me.
- I imply similarities to The Animatrix in this title, but it actually does:
- A film consisting of multiple shorts to flesh out the world
- Apparently, this DOES actually takes place in the “Nolanverse” between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
- It’s fascinating to see how the different studios interpret Batman.
THE SIX SHORTS
The summaries for the six shorts are as follows:
- HAVE I GOT A STORY FOR YOU
- A group of skateboarders separately run into Batman and interpret him differently. Is he a shadow, a vampire, a robot or something else entirely?
- Two cops with conflicting opinions on the vigilante Batman are caught in a crossfire between the Russian Mob and Sal Maroni’s gang
- FIELD TEST
- Lucious Fox has some new toys for Batman to test out… in the field.
- IN DARKNESS DWELLS
- Killer Croc is on the loose in Gotham.
- WORKING THROUGH PAIN
- Batman takes a gutshot while in the sewers and has to cauterize the wound and bear the pain until he escapes. We’re treated to flashbacks to Bruce’s training specifically on pain management.
- Deadshot is back in Gotham and has a contract to kill Jim Gordon.
All in all, Batman: Gotham Knight is a creative, clever, and above all refreshing take on Batman. It’s fresh off the heels of a creative, clever and refreshing version of The Justice League, so hopefully, this trend continues with the remaining DCUAO films.