Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham (2023) Review
Based on a 2001 three-issue comic book miniseries written by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and Richard Pace, Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham is an alternate-world tale that introduced an alternate version of Bruce Wayne and the residents of Gotham to Lovecraftian horrors. It’s the most overtly horrific entry in the animated Batman franchise as well as the strangest.
In the 1920s an expedition led by Bruce Wayne (David Giuntoli, Batman: Soul of the Dragon, Grimm) arrives in Antarctica looking for another expedition, this one led by Professor Cobblepot (William Salyers, Superman: Red Son, Batman: Death in the Family). What he finds instead are mutated creatures and the professor’s undead assistant Grendon (David Dastmalchian, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Bird Box) whom he brings back to Gotham.
This sets into motion a plot by Talia al Ghul (Emily O’Brien, The Bigfoot Project, Days of Our Lives) to bring back Ra’s al Ghul (Navid Negahban, American Assassin, The Cleaning Lady) and through him, an ancient entity whose coming was foretold by the cult responsible for the death of Bruce’s parents. In order to stop it Bruce will have to learn the true origins of Gotham, his family’s fortune and his ultimate destiny.
Co-directed by Christopher Berkeley (Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword, Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles) and Sam Liu (The Death and Return of Superman, Batman: Soul of the Dragon) from a script by Jase Ricci (Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham starts with the discovery of the doomed expedition and proceeds at a quick pace from there, perhaps a bit too quick.
There’s so much to try and work into the film’s eighty-eight-minute running time that it frequently feels rushed as it races from setpiece to setpiece with little pause for any backstory or explanations. If Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham was from the franchise’s main timeline you could get away with that, everyone knows at least the basics of how Gotham’s best-known residents came to be and what motivates them.
But here while the names may be the same, the characters aren’t. Some, like Harvey Dent (Patrick Fabian, Snow Falls, Driver X) have roles similar to those in the original timeline. Others such as Dick Grayson (Jason Marsden, Young Justice, Penguin Monster Beach Party) and Kirk Langstrom (Jeffrey Combs, Holiday Hell, Re-Animator) have very different ones. Another group, like Oliver Queen (Christopher Gorham, Covert Affairs, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War) is somewhere in the middle. He isn’t The Green Arrow but he is uncommonly skilled with a bow and other medieval weapons, similarly, Barbara Gordon (Gideon Adlon, Sick, Witch Hunt) is still The Oracle, but in an entirely different sense of the word.
Without knowing a bit more about how these versions of the characters came to be, they seem disconnected from the story, and several of the minor players seem to act more like plot devices than characters. They show up, cause something to happen or have something happen to them, and are gone in a few minutes. It’s the animated version of sticking Danny Trejo or Eric Roberts in a film for five minutes.
The same with the cult and the mythos surrounding it. Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham is obviously based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the title references his story “The Doom That Came to Sarnath”, the doomed Antarctic expedition recalls “At the Mountains of Madness” and there’s a mention in the script of The Lurker at the Threshold. But lacking details it all feels rather haphazard and hard to get caught up in. It feels like there was too much information from the original comics to fit into one film and rather than leave out any characters or events they just presented them without explanation.
The animation, while quite good lacks something, probably the result of Warner’s shifting to completely computer-animated films as of Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons. It’s detailed and looks impressive from a technical standpoint, but Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham lacks the spark of a good human animator.
What this leaves the viewer with is a collection of admittedly well-staged action set pieces and a final act that goes down a demonic rabbit hole and delivers a truly unique version of “I am Batman”. This is when the film is at its best and also when it finally tells us what’s going on. The backstory may have some fans with less tolerance for occult storylines rolling their eyes but I found it amusing.
But how could I not be amused by a film that features an attack by demonic penguins in the first fifteen minutes? Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham ends up feeling like an enjoyably cheesy B movie. That’s probably not what was intended, but it’s not really a bad thing either.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham on 4K, Blu-ray and Digital Platforms on March 28th.
3 thoughts on “Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham (2023) Review”
Apart from leaving many unanswered questions and off-plot characters, it certainly delivered the ‘BATMAN’ or “BRUCE WAYNE’ I’ve been waiting for.
Whatever it may be, I missed ‘BATMAN’. Despite their so-called best attempts, and kinda-off plot line, enjoyable is what I’d say.
The author should know how disturbing it is for the reader to have the red string constantly interrupted with some pointless info in the brackets. Who cares who voiced anyone and what they have done so far? It almost seems that the writer wanted to drive readers away with this totally unbecoming element.