Short version: Gotham Knight sucks.
Long, painful version: Gotham Knight is the latest direct-to-DVD release to sport the DC Universe Animated Original Movie label. Yeah, a real mouthful. Universe Animated Original…blah. Too many vowels. The label bears no relation, continuity-wise, to the DC animated universe (or DCAU) established by animators Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Glen Murakami and others. So these flicks have nothing to do with the stories told in Batman Beyond or Justice League Unlimited.
It’s a nifty idea to keep the enormous roster of DC characters and stories alive in animation but limited run times, inferior writing and some just plain bad voice work keep these alternate universe movies – just Superman: Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier so far – from being anything more than a rental.
Gotham Knight is the latest stab at this DC character cartoon thing. Besides it’s obvious cross-market tie-in with The Dark Knight the biggest thing about Gotham Knight is the anime aesthetic. It consists of six short cartoons done in the anime style from various animation studios, written by bonafide comic book authors like Josh Olson (A History of Violence), Greg Rucka (Queen and Country, Batman: Death and the Maidens) and Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets, a heavy-handed run of Superman with artist Jim Lee). Listening to the guys behind the project talk about it you’d think they were on to something momentous. Indeed, the potential for a “Batmanime” is vast. (The potential is usually vast for animation – budget and imagination is your limit. So it’s a wonder why, considering the tons of work it takes to make an animated production, so much of it is so bad.) They set out their goals: Bring Batman into anime, bring anime to a whole new audience, explore all new creative possibilities! And the names involved. Bruce Timm, one of the DCAU founding fathers, returns in a vague “executive producer” role. The voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, returns to bring the Bat to life once more. The back of the box claims “6 Interlocking Stories. 6 Acclaimed Directors. One Groundbreaking Masterpiece.”
Hoo boy, well, forgive me for being disappointed.