The Dark Knight meets the world of H.P. Lovecraft in DC’s Adaptation of the Elseworlds tale
The newest film in DC’s Animated adapts one of the most interesting tales from the “Elseworlds” conceptual line of non-continuity reinventions. Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham is a Lovecraftian story which originated in comics form in 2000–2001, written by Mike Mignola and Richard Pace. Notably, it released just a couple years before the Mignola’s marriage of Lovecraft and superheroes would arrive on the big screen in Hellboy (2004), bringing him into the mainstream.
The Doom That Came to Gotham reimagines Batman and many characters of his world in a 1920s horror setting, combining ancient horrors, dark familial secrets, and the occult into a very unusual and different kind of tale of the Dark Knight.
While exploring the Arctic, Bruce Wayne and his wards (a trio of, essentially, Robins) encounter a primeval horror which follows them back to Gotham City and dredge up dark secrets from Gotham’s oldest and wealthiest families, among them the Waynes, Cobblepots, and Queens.
Bruce’s encounters with the supernatural end up pitting him against an ancient “Cult of Ghul” and its last practitioners, Ra’s and Talia al Ghul, who seek an ancient Necronomicon-like tome with which to summon an ancient evil of the tentacled kind.
Man-Bat, Etrigan the Demon, Penguin, and Green Arrow are among the cast of characters that are included and often reinvented. Perhaps most tragically, Harvey Dent (Two-Face) gets a particularly tragic spin, his “second half” the result of an infection which deforms half of his body into an unrecognizable mutation.
Lovecraftian horror is inherently a difficult tone to nail down because it’s based on ideas of terrors that are unknowable and indescribable, bordering on madness — always a hard thing to adapt. The film’s ostensibly a horror story, but it never really feels like one, rather more of a Batman period drama that happens to have supernatural elements.
Mike Mignola only wrote the original comics series, as opposed to drawing it, and yet I continually wished that the film had carried over something more of his personal style, as seen on the issues’ covers — though not in their interiors. But this is admittedly more of a personal feeling than a legitimate criticism.
Overall, I did enjoy this film but it didn’t aspire to the lofty hopes that I had for a weighty Lovecraftian, Mignola-penned descent into madness and ancient evil.
My review is based on the 4K UHD edition of The Doom That Came to Gotham, which is a combo pack that also includes a Blu-ray disc (which houses the Special Features in addition to the movie) and a Movies Anywhere digital version.
My copy came with a slipcover which utilizes a handsome metallic matte design.
The screenshots in this article are from the Blu-ray disc, which, though it still looks pretyt good, I thought was noticeably “compressy” in comparison with the 4K disc at a close viewing distance (the 4K disc is unsurprisingly pristine in this respect).
Special Features and Extras (on Blu-ray disc)
Batman: Shadows of Gotham (13:12) — behind the Scenes of The Doom That Came to Gotham.
Batman: The Animated Series Episodes
Collecting a two-parter that features Ra’s and Talia al Ghul
The Demon’s Quest (22:18)
The Demon’s Quest Part II (22:14)
EPK-style previews of past DC Animation Elseworlds films.
Sneak Peek: Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (8:29)
Sneak Peek: Superman: Red Son (11:21)
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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.