The new Batman movie is getting a lot of buzz for both good reasons (like it’s awesome trailer) and bad (like the death of Heath Ledger). Well, we are on the Bat-train too. I love the caped crusader, as many do, so when any new media is coming out involving him my ears perk up. An article was in Wizard not too long ago about a new series of animated Batman shorts. They are going to supplement the new movie Batman: The Dark Knight that is coming out in the summer. That is not too far away!
Well my dad is a huge Batman fan so by extension I have a rather healthy familiarity and fondness for the Caped Crusader. I really liked Batman Begins for a variety of reasons. First of all, most people felt the series needed a reboot after the last few horrible Batman movies. You need to start fresh after hearing, “Holy rusted metal Batman!” and Arnold Schwarzenegger saying, “Chill Out.” The Batsuit with nipples did not either. That and I have to say that Ra’s al Ghul is one of my favorite Batman villains. I feel he is the only Batman villain that is Batman’s equal. Any movie with him is just sure to be good. That being said I have decently high if somewhat guarded expectation going into the new Batman movie.
It is being done ala Animatrix-style so all the pieces are wrapped together in one long movie. Six different writers with six different takes on Batman. The stories are by American writers and the studios animating them are: Josh Olson, David Goyer, Brian Azzarello, Greg Rucka, Jordan Goldberg, and Alan Burnett with the help of Studio 4°C, Production I.G, and Madhouse. And the best part is Bruce Timm is directing! Each short is using distinct, and at times abstract, art direction to give different tones and flavors to the stories.
I would not be at all surprised in the success of the Animatrix is what made this collection of movies happen in the first place. There is a whole big push now for everything to have multiple layers of interactivity and spin-off products. You have to have the interactive web page with added back story, the game that ties into the movie, the novels with side stories, and the animated prequel. I’m not saying I don’t like it. Done right it can give a movie added layers of depth and strength. Heck, some of my favorite series do it and do it well. When Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith came out they had those Clone Wars cartoons that were far better then the actual movies they bridged.
And with a franchise like Batman, it is not nearly as hard to come up with tie-in products.
The fact that they got together such a good mix of anime studios and American comic writers gives me hope for this project as well. I know most people I know who are into general animation have a distinctly soft place in their hearts of Batman: The Animated Series. Like most anthologies, I expect some stories to be far more pleasing to my tastes than others. I guess that is the greatest strength and weakness of groupings of works.
I like how dark they are taking Batman with this, I mean he was always dark but I think they have really been raising the bar as of late. Gotham looks move like hell on earth in the clips. And although we do get a very pretty Bruce in at least one short, the overall tone seem to be darkness and violence.
I would disagree in the fact that I feel the dark hardcore Batman comes and goes as the times change. The original Batman was very dark and pulp detective character. I mean the Dark Knight Returns and the The Killing Joke graphic novels famous for getting Batman on a version track. Even Batman: The Animated Series had to often fight with senors of what could and could not be cartoon. There were two different versions made of the Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Batman has also had his share of silly incarnations in including the old Adam West series and anything even remotely to do with Bat-Mite. Batman has played the range from dark as midnight to pratfalling silly and everywhere in between. That being said I too prefer a dark and gritty Batman. If we are going to get any animated Batman that gets a twisted Gotham like in the Killing Joke it’s going to be Batman: Gotham Knight.
I didn’t say Batman was never dark. Any comic book reader knows Batman has always had that edge to him. But I think it sometimes gets lost when tying him to mainstream media. Because everyone is always looking for the largest appeal possible, some things about his character are glossed over. I loved the animated series because it was dark in both design and story but a lot of it was subtle. I don’t see this up and coming animated feature being subtle in the same ways. I think it’s screaming.
I assume this is sort of supposed to be like, “what the hey was Batman doing between Batman Beings and the new movie?” Although, as I was writing that I remembered that one of the villains is Scarecrow. And he dealt with him in the first film so it’ll be interesting to see how it all ties together.
Well at the end of Batman Begins Commissioner Gordon mentions that the Scarecrow is still on the loose so he is definitely someone who should be doing something in between the first and second movies. I found the whole section about Deadshot rather interesting. I did not remember him as a Batman villain but I also don’t remember villains like the Penny Plunderer, Maxie Zeus, and Calendar Man (who sound like a rejected Megaman villain) but maybe for good reasons. It seems they are taking a rather minor character and rebuilding him in an interesting way.
I loved the Batman animated series, it was well directed and held the spirit of Batman. So I am really looking forward to this body of work and seeing Timm’s work in action again. A collaborative work like this is always exciting because you are never quite sure how it’s going to turn out. I have a positive outlook.
I’m mostly curious how much of the series will feel like Batman: The Anime and how much will it be a Batman cartoon with Japanese animators. I would like either one but they are two different products. I felt like the people talking on the trailer has a very odd or narrow image of what anime was. This might be a Batman cartoon with Japanese animators despite all the talk of how they would be incorporating anime’s strengths and fell into the project. I suppose it also comedown to individual pieces as well. O|ne part might be extremely anime influenced where as another might only have the lightest stokes of anime influence. Either way I look froward to what the result is.
But no matter what it can never be as funny as this.