Batman: Year One review

Batman: Year One

Back in July I got to see an advanced screening of Batman: Year One. It’s a new animated movie in the same vein as many of DC’s recent works in bringing some of their classic comic story-arcs to DVD. I first saw Superman: Doomsday when it first came out on DVD, but have yet to really get into any of their other movies (Just League: The New Frontier, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: First Flight and more).

Let’s get into talking about Batman: Year One. Like the other DC animated efforts, this one is based on a classic DC story arc. In this case it’s Frank Miller’s 1987 comic of the same name, Batman: Year One. It revolves around Bruce Wayne and James Gordon as they take separate paths in attempts to fight crime for the first time in Gotham City.

The film is an almost exact representation of the Frank Miller comic. Bruce Wayne is a young man looking to do something about the crime in Gotham City. He comes up with the idea to dress up all in black and start beating up bad guys at night. He soon realizes that he also has to sport the playboy billionaire facade, which gets harder and harder the more he gets beat up at night.

While Bruce get’s his ass constantly handed to him, James Gordon becomes the only clean cop in the city. The current commissioner as well as Gordon’s partner are all in the pocket of the main crime boss in Gotham, Carmine Falcone.

Eventually both characters paths start to cross and it becomes clear that both want the same thing for the city, justice. This obvious desire frames what is to be an extremely long lived relationship between Gordon and Batman.

There are very few differences between the original comic and the DC animated film. The only major difference is a fight between Selena Kyle and Bruce Wayne.

Bruce goes undercover and encounters dominatrix Selina Kyle. In the comic Bruce gives her the ol’ 1-2-punch and she is down for the count.

In the film they decided to draw out the fight to give Selina a chance. Instead of the quick punch and go, Selina manages to beat the crap out of Bruce and at the last minute gets one right in the kisser.

In the original comic I often felt that the quick Selina knockout made her character feel more feeble with hand to hand combat, but by doing that Frank Miller made her shine much more brightly as a simple burglar. Not everyone can be the full packager of fighter, robber and escape artist. It always felt like Miller wanted to show that what Selina Kyle was lacking in head-on fighting skills she more than makes up for with her ability to steal and get out of sticky situations.

But of course, I suppose when you have Eliza Dushku playing Selina Kyle, you have to let her kick a bit of ass.

As with all of DC’s animated efforts of late, the voice acting is impeccable. Southland‘s Ben McKenzie plays a young and rash Bruce Wayne. Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins uses many elements from Year One. If you compare Ben McKenzie to Christian Bale’s Batman, they both bring great element to the character, but Ben McKenzie brings a young immature demeanor that was missing with Bale’s performance. Even though both versions are supposed to be around the same age, Christian Bale always felt like he was in control and less like he was just a young guy trying to figure out what to do.

Ben McKenzie really feels like he has no idea what he’s doing while running around at night in his Batman costume. It really feels like Bruce Wayne could get shot at any moment by any old thug because of his reckless style.

Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston plays James Gordon and is absolutely perfect. Hearing him voice Gordon makes me want to see him on the big screen in the role even more. If you have ever seen Breaking Bad you should know that Bryan Cranston is quite an impressive actor. As James Gordon, Cranston makes you truly feel for his character, while also finally making James Gordon feel more than just Batman’s go-to guy for crime-reports.

All the voice actors do a great job and give this film much more gravity than what American audiences would expect from an animated feature.

If you haven’t been watching any of DC’s animated films, you should start with Batman: Year One

About Jon Q Public

Jon Q Public can blend into any crowd. He is tallish but not too tall, he probably has a light beard or a 5 O'Clock shadow. He wears nice slacks with a fancy jacket. He's your average American Taxpayer: Mr. Jon Q Public.