To commemorate the 80th anniversary of Batman (#Batman80), AFJ has decided to join in the fun with columns, lists, and reviews from now until Batman Day (Sept. 15th, 2019). The incredible thing about 80 years of Batman in pop culture is that we can literally feature anything from comics to movies to Batman personal flotation devices. They are for kids, Millenials. Today, we turn our attention to an animated feature from 2008. Enjoy Junkies! #AFJ4LIFE
Warner Bros.' Batman: Gotham Knight was a bridge between Batman Begins and its sequel The Dark Knight. It was also the best-animated movie tie-in DVD since The Animatrix. Batman: Gotham Knight sets a bar for American released animated films, at the time. However, it fell flat in the storytelling. Outside of two exceptional stories and the animation, the rest of the Batman: Gotham Knight was not worth all the hype.
"Have I Got a Story For You" written by Josh Olson and directed by Shoujirou Nishimi is not very original in concept. Several teenagers regale each other with their Batman encounters. Each sees what they want, adds to the story and, as an audience, we see an over-exaggeration of Batman. The segment is entertaining and a great chance for the animators to have fun with Batman and draw him outside the confines of his normal cape and cowl. However, this story was done in the 1970s by DC Comics scribe Frank Robbins and drawn by Dick Giordano titled “Nobody Knows” (available in the Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told TPB). Furthermore, the same style of story was done on Batman: The Animated Series titled “Legends of the Dark Knight”. It may not have been original in concept but it paid homage to the other reincarnations of Batman that have come before. The Dark Knight Returns segment alone shines brighter than most of the stories on this disc (look for it in the special features). It seems every generation will have this type of Batman story. Unfortunately, this one is a step-down.
"Crossfire" stayed true to its Gotham Central roots. It should be considering it was written by Gotham Central scribe Greg Rucka. The story is a brilliant reflection of the Eisner and Harvey Award-winning comic. Detective Allen (Gary Dourdan) doesn’t the trust the Batman. His partner Detective Anna Ramirez (Ana Ortiz) is a believer in the Batman and sees the difference he has already made in Gotham. The story is almost too short. A few more minutes of realism mixed with some more interdepartmental camaraderie could have played out better. Instead, it gives way to the action. This story does bring a lot of information to the surface about what happened to the narrows after Batman Begins and Arkham Asylum.
"Field Test" and "In Darkness Dwells" really develop the relationship between Batman and James Gordon. Though played out against some killer action sequences and villains (Scarecrow and Killer Croc) this segment only faulted in one respect, Kevin Conroy should not play Batman as a young man. Behind the mask, it works but as a young anime Bruce Wayne it is as foreign-sounding as a Sicilian voice coming out of an Aborigine. These two stories were the bulk of Batman: Gotham Knight.
"Working Through Pain" is a flashback story told as Batman is wounded in the sewers trying to make his way towards Alfred. Brian Azzarello places Bruce Wayne in India trying to master a technique that will help him control his pain. Azzarello humanizes Batman even further by making him fail to see the point of his master’s teachings. It is a brilliant story and one that illustrates Azzarelo’s hold on the character. For all the action and stylized animation that exists in Batman: Gotham Knight, this simple story is the best of the lot.
"Deadshot" really is in the vein of Batman Begins. A realistic portrayal of Deadshot is given and his ego definitely has the upper hand when it comes to his judgment. Batman: Gotham Knight builds to this sequence and it is worth the wait.
Unlike the Animatrix, which explored the world of The Matrix revealing so much, Batman: Gotham Knight has only a few bits and pieces of new information about Batman. Sure the character has been around for almost seventy years but each month the writers and DC Comics bring something new to the character. Here was a chance to blend Western Comic Book mythology with Eastern Animation. Instead, it just felt like a movie gimmick instead of a comic book brought to life.