The Dark Knight is coming soon, but the straight-to-DVD anime Batman: Gotham Knight is thankfully coming sooner. Feeding Bruce Wayne's superego through the animated filter of Pacific Rim cinema so far looks very sweet indeed, and new pics and news confirm that comics nerds and late adopters alike are probably going to be impressed.
On the nerd front, animated Batphiles should be pleased to know that Kevin Conroy is returning to voice Wayne, as he has for the last couple of decades in various iterations of the mythology. Adam West would probably not be pleased to know that it is Conroy's pipes that have ruled Batman's tech-noir corner of television, proving that an animated Batman is truly a resonant one. For his part, Conroy says he believes the multiple-narrative Gotham Knight movie will resonate more than any other when it hits store shelves July 8.
"It's a really rich experience," promised Conroy. "The artwork in this film is so beautiful. It's like getting six movies in one."
And perhaps as many personas, especially now that anime and Batman have merged after being on a collision course for decades. Bruce Wayne may be voiced by Conroy, but he's also carried the weight of everyone from Michael Keaton to Christian Bale, with probably too many big names in between. But lately in the series The Batman and the new Bale iterations, Bruce Wayne has been more like Bruce Lee. He looks the part in one segment.
But Batman: Gotham Knight is freaking memes in more ways than one. For his Rashomon-like segment "Have I Got a Story For You," History of Violence screenwriter and Batman fanboy Josh Olson sampled Memento's narrative slipstreaming in honor of Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan's crossover film.
"I thought it would be fun telling the story backwards," explained Olson. "You'll notice that each time the villain appears, he seems to be gaining weapons instead of losing them. That was an intentional nod to Chris Nolan's film."Regardless of its source material, Batman: Gotham Knight is planning for the future and giving the Dark Knight's expanding mythos some interesting twists. From a tasteful decapitation to bare-knuckle brawls and into the BatBot, this East-West détente has enough material to keep fandom occupied for awhile. Gotham Knight screenwriter and Batman regular Greg Rucka just wants them to keep their cool, especially when they bump into something that may make them nervous.
"The great thing about comics fandom," Rucka explains, "is that it's immediate. I write a novel and it'll be a year before people tell me what they think of it. Comics fans react that day."
Plus, in the age of the internet, they have more power and influence than ever. That's a trade-off that the economically sensitive producers have to deal with, one way or another.
"Comics are in many ways like soap operas, in that the fan base rests mostly in the characters," Rucka says. "Consequently, the fans can be prone to hysteria. With the prevalence of the internet, there's been this movement where everyone wants to be an insider, everyone has an opinion, and everyone wants to spread the information as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, a lot of times, the information is wrong or horribly incomplete. But these things don't exist without that fan base. They are devoted, and vocal."Photos: Warner Brothers