Welcome to a world where Lovecraftian horrors meet the world of DC Comics. I know what you’re thinking: yes, DC has seen its fair share of the supernatural with the adventures of Justice League Dark (even having their own movie during the DCAMU’s reign.) However, Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham, a miniseries written by Mike Mignola and Richard Pace, takes the grittiness of Gotham City down a darker road and transforms its heroes and villains into altruistic warriors and eldritch monsters. In its animated adaptation, it fully brings its insanity to the table.
Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham, directed by Christopher Berkeley and Sam Liu, is an animated adaptation of the miniseries of the same name. The movie sees Bruce Wayne/Batman (David Giuntoli) and his rogues in a twisted Lovecraftian reality as a deadly conspiracy threatens Gotham and the rest of the world. Together with his allies; Kai Li Chen (Tati Gabrielle), Dick Grayson (Jason Marsden), and Jay Tawde (Karan Brar); Batman must uncover this conspiracy all while protecting himself, his friends, and ultimately, the world.
On a visual level, Batman‘s looks feel in line with the DCAMU’s world-building palette, relying on a trimmed-sepia scheming in specific scenes while having this dark-lit atmosphere throughout the movie. While I do understand that this is supposed to keep that core feeling from the miniseries, I couldn’t help but feel like the world felt a little bit soulless. No doubt, the detail that is put into its character designs brings the unique designs by Troy Nixey and Dennis Janke provide that edginess to the enemies Batman and company face. However, the atmosphere and world-building push the grimdark to a point where it can become a bit too much.
As for the story, if you’ve read the original miniseries, you’d probably have a good sense of what’s to come. This adaptation follows the same story beats as the original, albeit this time, Bruce is accompanied by the younger versions of Dick, Jason, and Kai Li Chen, who replaces Tim Drake from the miniseries. Unlike the miniseries, Kai Li’s presence in the movie serves as a guide for moving the story’s plot forward as she ultimately plays a bigger role in influencing certain events. However, the movie wants you to think these characters are already established, thus limiting what the characters can do. One-off sentences or quick expository flashbacks that only hit the movie’s story beats limit the potential character-building it could have had.
The movie also has its problems with its side villains. Because the movie uses its source material beat by beat, it loses its potential to utilize Batman’s rogues gallery to the fullest. Of course, the movie’s reliance on supernatural elements provides a unique perspective on how villains like Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Two-Face world work. Their designs perfectly fit all the categories for what makes a Lovecraftian abomination. However, because this is a straightforward adaptation, the movie doesn’t really bother to change up its game and instead relegates these characters to being plot devices.
This seems to be the main issue with this adaptation: it doesn’t bother to transform enough of its source to create a meaningful story. No doubt, the voice cast works good , for what’s in the script and provide the right amount of energy. There are some quieter moments to the movie that help build some chemistry between these few characters, but they’re mostly present past the first half. Perhaps if the movie spent more time establishing its world and building these relationships the plot points would have had more of an emotional impact.
Luckily, the movie goes all out in its third act, putting Batman in how own spotlight while capitalizing on the eldritch horrors of Lovecraft with DC’s supernatural elements. Throughout the film, the movie likes to highlight its action set-pieces between Batman and whatever foe he’s facing. However, because most of the importance centers around these confrontations, it doesn’t contribute as much to the story, but only those specific points. Then again, this stems from a lack of needed character development that this movie suffers from because of its straight storytelling.
In the end, Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham does have the potential to transform its source material, but it plays it safe in what could have been an interesting take on the mythos of the Dark Knight. With DC Studios taking its focus to the Tomorrowverse (and other animated projects), it honestly feels like this movie is only here to satiate the hunger for something new. I won’t lie: I did enjoy the simpler character moments and the cast did their best to give their respective characters a new life. Sadly, its good elements are hindered by bigger forces, leaving Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham in indifference.
Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham releases on 4K, Blu-ray and Digital Platforms on March 28.