Certified critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society. Also writes for Bounding Into Comics and GeeksHaveGame.
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Batman: Gotham Knight was originally advertised as an animated feature that bridged the gap between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but it’s more of a Batman in his early stages becoming the legendary crime fighting vigilante he’s known as today. There are six segments in total with each segment having a different production studio.
The first segment is entitled, “Have I Got a Story For You,” and it’s written by Josh Olson (A History of Violence) and animated by Studio 4°C (Berserk: Golden Age Arc, Mind Game). The segment follows a boy who is waiting for his friends to arrive. Once they do, each of them tells a different story relating to what incredible Batman incident they witnessed that day. Each retelling is farfetched in its own way as this story capitalizes on teenagers stretching the truth and having overactive imaginations. Their day doesn’t seem to be finished though as the fight they all witnessed makes its way to their local hangout; the skate park.
“Crossfire” is written by Greg Rucka (Gotham, Jessica Jones) and animated by Production I.G (FLCL, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex). This segment focuses on Chris and Anna being a part of Lieutenant Gordon’s MCU (Major Crime Unit). Chris thinks Batman is a vigilante that takes the law into his hands while Anna is still unsure about him and is just thankful that good cops that know how to do their job are actually being respected now that Batman has become part of the picture. After taking a recent Arkham escapee back to the asylum, Chris and Anna soon realize that they’re stuck in the middle of a gang war between Sal Maroni and The Russian.
“Field Test” is written by Jordan Goldberg (Westworld) and animated by Bee Train (.hack//Sign, Blade of the Immortal). Lucius Fox is showing Bruce Wayne some new gadgets. Amongst them is a harness equipped with an electromagnetic pulse strong enough to deflect bullets. Batman decides to test it out with Maroni, The Russian and his goons. Everything seems to be going well until Batman encounters a glitch.
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“In Darkness Dwells” is written by David S. Goyer (the Blade franchise, Man of Steel) and animated by Madhouse (One Punch Man, Death Note). Everyone is hunting Killer Croc. For this story, Croc is a former patient of Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow and one of the reasons he was admitted to Dr. Crane was for his fear of bats.
“Working Through Pain” is written by Brian Azzarello (Batman: The Killing Joke) and animated by Studio 4°C. Batman is injured on what seems like any other night he puts his mask on. His tenacity takes center stage as you witness how often he struggles with nightly injuries. There are also flashbacks to his past that illustrate the difference between exterior and interior pain. There’s a way to put pain in its place and this is how Bruce Wayne found out how.
"Deadshot” is written by Alan Burnett (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm) and animated by Madhouse. Deadshot has returned to Gotham and has set his sights on Jim Gordon, but he looks to have ulterior motives. You also learn about how Bruce Wayne feels about guns.
Gotham Knight is superbly animated and has an accessible flow to it despite its various stories and alternating casts. The animation is fantastic as everything moves crisply and smoothly. The artistic style may change from story to story, but the voice cast is the same throughout. While each individual story has its own narrative to tell, everything is connected in some way that flows together nicely. This was one of the first times Kevin Conroy returned to voice Batman and his voice has become the iconic Batman voice for anyone who grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series. Hearing Conroy as Batman is like a homecoming in so many ways.
Whether you’re an anime fan, a Batman fan, or you’re looking for something new to catch your eye, Batman: Gotham Knight is worthwhile for animation and comic book fans alike. The animation is beautiful and the stories are enticing enough to keep you interested throughout. Kevin Conroy is the real drawing point here, but the rest of the voice cast is solid, as well. The Batman Begins/The Dark Knight connections are mostly hogwash as the animated feature adds nothing to Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe, but is an entertaining way to spend 76-minutes nevertheless.
Batman: Gotham Knight is available to stream on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, and Google Play for $2.99 and iTunes for $3.99. The Multi-Format Blu-ray is available on Amazon for $7.32 and as a double feature Blu-ray with Batman: Year One for $17.97. The Gotham Knight/Year One Blu-ray is $9.08 on eBay and the Multi-Format Blu-ray is $6.99; both are in brand new condition and both have free shipping.
© 2018 Chris Sawin