Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham is a new animated feature from Warner Brothers based on the 2001 graphic novel by Mike Mignola and Richard Pace. The Doom That Came to Gotham falls under DC’s Elseworlds label which allows different writers and artists to write their stories with complete creative liberty outside of the established canon. The movie is co-directed by Sam Liu and Christopher Berkeley and stars David Giuntoli as the dark knight.
The Doom That Came to Gotham is set in a Lovecraftian-inspired Gotham City during the prohibition era with Batman trying to unravel a mystery of an ancient evil that threatens reality. The film opens with Bruce Wayne and his wards Richard Grayson, Jay Tawde, and Kai Ki Can on an expedition in Antarctica. Immediately, I knew something was off with how the characters spoke - instead of the clever and intelligent dialogue that was found in the graphic novel, they were trying to imitate the whips from Marvel superhero movies. It didn’t work.
I found the jokes to be in the film to be repetitive and not humorous. There’s this repeating joke in the film of the Batcave being a wine cellar and it’s repeated far too often. Another is Alfred, Bruce’s surrogate father, constantly answering the phone. Alfred’s dry humor from the comics falls flat here. His performance felt stale, especially during his final interaction with his son Bruce, which was built to be an emotional scene.
Another thing I noticed is Jay Tawd’s accent switched between Pacific North, British, and a heavy Indian accent. It was jarring, so much so that I had to rewatch some of his scenes to make sure that I was hearing him properly.
However, the rest of the cast was fantastic, with the standouts being Tati Gabrielle's performance as the young, hopeful Kai Ki Can and Christopher Gorham's performance as the wealthy, alcoholic, egomaniac Oliver Queen. They added a lot of emotional resonance to this film. I grew to adore their characters and felt emotional when I learned about their tragic backstories and fate.
David Giuntoli delivered a cold, tragic, stoic performance as Batman. You hear the sorrow and regret lurking in the confines of his voice, which worked very well. This wasn’t Giuntoli's first time voicing Batman. He voiced the Caped Crusader back in 2021, in Elseworlds’ animated feature Batman the Soul of Dragon.
The digital hand-drawn animation was great. Each frame was immaculately detailed and had an incredibly smooth transition between them, elevating the action sequences. With the film being inspired by the lore of H.P. Lovecraft, audiences will see many disturbing and striking images with some clever nods to Lovecraft’s works like Herbert West the Reanimator.
The PG-13 rating took away from the graphic shock and intensity that was found in the graphic novel. The film also changed and removed material from its source. Like removing the extensive history of the Cult of Ghoul, the main antagonist of the film, making them feel hollow as a villain. The twist villain remains intact allowing for at least one interesting conflict to unfold. The slow burn of the graphic novel is gone and is replaced by a brisk pace that became difficult to follow. Every scene is either a shouting exposition, introducing you to a new character, or a new plot point.
The surrealist nature of the film can be off-putting. The film relies mostly on Batman using his detective abilities and magic later. To its detriment, the film doesn’t touch on Bruce’s psychology for more than a scene or two. Which was an integral plot point in the graphic novel, examining his trauma. It makes him a less interesting character than his graphic novel counterpart. Instead of Bruce gradually going insane over the course of the film, his delve into insanity is regulated to a single scene. Instead of the somber tone of the graphic novel, the movie ends with a bittersweet tone that I didn’t like. It felt uninspired and generic.
Altogether, I did enjoy my time with the film. Even if it is the weakest of the Elseworlds movie line-up, its short 87-minute runtime allows for a quick pop of brainless cosmic pulp mystery. If you go in expecting the intelligence of the graphic novel, you will be disappointed. I recommend watching any other Batman animated features before this one.
Batman The Doom that Came to Gotham is available on Blu-ray, 4k, and digital.
Edited by Alexa
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