In 1989 DC Comics released Gotham by Gaslight, a one-shot graphic novel that reimagined Batman in the alternate timeline in which Jack the Ripper is terrorizing a 19th century Gotham City. For years, other “Elseworlds” stories would follow, taking multiple DC superheroes into various eras. The DC Universe animated movie Batman: Gotham by Gaslight takes the general plot structure of the graphic novel and then builds upon it to deliver an intriguing tale of mystery that will satisfy both readers of the original and newcomers alike.
Gotham gets a Victorian era makeover as the city is plagued by a series of gruesome murders against its “ladies of the night.” Part horror film, part whodunit, the animated film puts a new spin on familiar Batman characters. Even if you read the graphic novel you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that the film changes up some things, most importantly the identity of Jack the Ripper. The story unfolds like any good murder mystery and completely fits Batman’s character. It doesn’t matter what era or timeline you put him in, Batman will always be Batman even if he doesn’t have all of his fancy gadgets at his disposal. That being said, I wasn’t too impressed by Bruce Greenwood as Batman. All I heard was just Bruce Greenwood and not Bruce Wayne, although as things progressed I did get slightly accustomed to his voice.
The Blu-ray of Gotham by Gaslight includes an interesting 20 minute behind-the-scenes look at the graphic novel and its transition into an animated film that any comic book fan is going to enjoy. There’s also audio commentary and a sneak peek at the next DC Universe animated movie, Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay. Oddly, it also includes sneak peeks for two previously released films, 2016’s Batman: Bad Blood and 2017’s Justice League Dark. I guess Warner Bros. just needed some extra filler content for the special features.
Overall, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is darker and more violent Batman adventure that will please fans with its clever story. Half the fun is trying to figure out who Jack the Ripper is alongside Batman. Like the graphic novel, hopefully this is only the beginning of more stories set within the Elseworlds universe.