Saturday 31 March 2018


Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

Sometimes being a little out of touch with the DC Universe is a good thing, as I had no idea that this movie was being made until I saw it in a shop the other day. I have the one-shot graphic novel of Gotham by Gaslight which came out in 1989. It was the first in the Elseworlds series which took well known characters such as Batman and Superman, and put them in alternative settings, with a different backstory. It'd been a long time since I'd read it, but I remember really enjoying it, so I was quite excited to see Gotham by Gaslight retold as an animation.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is a Jack the Ripper story set in the late 1800's, where Batman is reinvented in a more 'Steampunk' fashion which nicely complements the era in which the story is set. Whilst there are obvious similarities between the graphic novel and the movie, there are plenty of significant differences, particularly in the plot. For this reason, I'm looking at the film as a completely separate story.

Director / Producer Sam Liu has done an amazing job in bringing this story to life. It's well paced and action packed. Clocking in at just under an hour and twenty minutes, it delivers the story with plenty of twists and turns without a dull moment.

As with all the Elseworld stories, I really enjoy seeing how familiar characters are re-imagined and incorporated into the story, with certain traits that link them to their roots. This version of Selina Kyle is particularly awesome, with her fiercely independent demeanour and badass fighting skills, showing that she's always Catwoman, even when she isn't. As with all of the best protagonists, she's great because of her character, as opposed to relying on a costume or a super power to maintain the viewers interest. Her back story is one of being an orphan who grew up in the circus and became a lion tamer, which is where she perfected her skills with a whip.

Harvey Dent's split personality and capricious tendencies are also cleverly written in, without him being Two-Face per se. Batman, Alfred, and Hugo Strange and are still very similar to the characters we already know, grounding the story somewhat, while most others are re-worked a little further and in a more experimental way.

The story follows a series of murders by Jack the Ripper, who is now terrorising Gotham. Bruce Wayne / Batman is on a mission to find out who he is and stop him. He ends up working with a stage actress called Selina Kyle who is also tracking The Ripper, and at one point uses herself as bait to draw him out. There are plenty of twists and turns throughout the story, with a wealth of Easter eggs for die-hard Batman fans to explore.

I've seen a few of these DC animated movies which are aimed at a more mature audience, and Gotham By Gaslight is easily one of the best. It's a really enjoyable film, and I think at this point in time, DC are making much better animated movies than live action ones. Hopefully, Gotham By Gaslight will be successful enough to green-light plenty more animated Batman films of this calibre in the future.


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