|Batman: Gotham by Gaslight|
UK Blu-ray cover
|Directed by||Sam Liu|
|Produced by||Sam Liu|
|Screenplay by||Jim Krieg|
|Music by||Frederik Wiedmann|
|Edited by||Christopher D. Lozinski|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Home Entertainment|
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is a 2018 American animated steampunk superhero film produced by Warner Bros. Animation and distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, featuring an alternate version of the DC Comics character Batman. It is the thirtieth film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series. It is directed and produced by Sam Liu and written by James Krieg, loosely based on the one-shot graphic novel of the same name by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola.
The film was released for a world premiere screening at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. during the "DC in D.C." event on January 12, 2018 and then for digital download on January 23, 2018 before coming out on DVD and Blu-ray on February 6.
One night, Batman saves a wealthy couple from being robbed by three orphans (Dickie, Jason and Timmy) and defeats their abusive handler, Big Bill Dust. At the same time, Ivy, an orphan turned exotic dancer and prostitute, becomes the newest victim of the serial killer called Jack the Ripper, who preys on Gotham's poor and destitute women.
Citizens of Gotham believe the Batman and Jack to be the same man. Stage actress Selina Kyle, a protector of the women from "Skinner's End", berates Gotham Police Commissioner James Gordon and Chief of Police Harvey "Bulldog" Bullock for their failure to stop the Ripper murders. Later that night, Selina acts as bait for the Ripper. It works, but the Ripper gets the upper hand during their fight until the arrival of Batman. After escaping, Batman asks Gordon to help him bring the Ripper down.
At the Monarch Theatre with his friend Harvey Dent, Bruce meets Selina and the two bond at the Dionysus Club. Bruce realizes that not only were the two of them taken in by Sister Leslie, but that some of the murdered girls were orphans formerly under Leslie's care. Bruce realizes that the Ripper will target Leslie and rushes to save her, but is too late; the Ripper has already murdered her. At the crime scene, Bruce finds a bloody Dionysus Club pin, meaning the Ripper has to be one of Gotham's wealthy. At Sister Leslie's funeral, Bruce is met by Hugo Strange, claiming he knows the killer and wants to meet with Batman. Bruce also is met by Marlene, a drunken old woman who claims she saw him sneaking around when Sister Leslie was killed. Bruce's butler Alfred stops the three orphans from pick-pocketing him and offers to provide them work.
At Arkham Asylum, the Ripper attacks Strange and throws him to his own patients, who tear him apart. Batman chases the Ripper on top of an airship in a fight that leaves Batman wounded as the airship explodes and the Ripper escapes. Batman is chased by police, only to be saved by Selina when he is nearly cornered. After seeing Batman is Bruce, she takes him to her home, where they spend the night. After the death of Marlene is discovered, Bruce is arrested, and Dent, jealous of Selina's affection, prosecutes him as the Ripper.
Sentenced to Blackgate Penitentiary following the trial, Bruce is met by Selina, who urges him to reveal he is Batman to clear his name and help save the girls from Jack. When he refuses, she decides to tell Gordon herself, revealing she has one of his batarangs. Bribing a guard to deliver a coded message (which appears as a series of dancing stick-figures) to his manor, Bruce escapes after staging a prison fight and meets with the orphans, who deliver him his suit and a steampunk motorcycle.
Selina meets with Gordon at the Gotham City World's Fair and learns to her horror that he is the Ripper. While seeking Selina at Gordon's home, Batman learns this as well when he finds a secret room revealing Gordon's gruesome hobbies and past as an army surgeon during the American Civil War. Batman also meets Gordon's wife and accomplice, Barbara-Eileen Gordon, with scars on the left side of her face that have driven her insane, praising her husband for "curing" her sins as a woman. Gordon injects Selina with a drug, but she manages to use her blood and the Fair's searchlight to give Batman a signal.
Batman arrives and fights Gordon into a Ferris wheel, where Gordon, driven mentally insane by his time in the Civil War, reveals his "holy work" is to rid Gotham from what he sees as filth - from the poor to the criminals, but also immigrants, the illiterate, prostitutes, and anarchists. The Ferris wheel lights on fire and begins to collapse. Selina escapes the burning wheel, while Batman defeats Gordon by using a handcuff trick taught to him by Houdini, only to watch Gordon allow himself to burn alive. Batman and Selina are saved by Alfred and the orphans, who are now Bruce Wayne's wards. As they escape, they watch as the World's Fair burns down, and hope it will be replaced with something better.
Producer Bruce Timm has pointed to the 1944 film The Lodger and Erik Larson's book The Devil in the White City as influences on the film. He also cited a dream sequence in a particular episode of the 1960s television show Gilligan's Island in which the characters of the show took on well-known roles from Victorian-era British fiction. "There was a Victorian one where the Professor was Sherlock Holmes and Skipper was Doctor Watson and Mary Anne was Eliza Doolittle and Gilligan himself was Jekyll and Hyde. So, this is kind of the same kind of idea. You take those characters that you know and you put them in different spots in this different world and see what happens. That was a lot of fun... ...It's a little glimpse into that Victorian Gotham and then expand that and put as many of Batman's stock players in it in roles you recognize... ...You know, who's gonna be Lestrade? And who's gonna be Watson? And who is gonna be Irene Adler?"
Writer Jim Kreig spoke of the influence of the Sherlock Holmes stories, both as written by Arthur Conan Doyle, and as written by others: "I grew up as a Holmes fan and my dad read it to me, and I read it to my kids. But I didn't want to get any of it wrong and I didn't want to leave any Sherlockian stone unturned. I made the Baker Street Irregulars into Robins. I tried to do as much as I could... ...There's actually a considerable amount of British literature that are about Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper... ...There are about 15 books. I maybe read five of them." He noted the 1965 film A Study in Terror as a favorite of his. Timm, Krieg, and director Sam Liu had discussed including the Sherlock Holmes character in the film adaptation, but eventually opted to pay homage to that character with references to aspects of the Holmes canon.
Julian Romano at MovieWeb gave the film a positive review, going so far as to say it "ranks among the best of the DC Animated Universe". He says the film surpasses Batman: The Killing Joke, doing a better job of adapting the source material, praising screenwriter Jim Krieg and director Sam Liu, for their intelligent approach. He notes the R rating, and acknowledges that although the film is not suitable for younger audiences and features violence and coarse language it is not gratuitous.
Will Romine at Bleeding Cool gave the film 9/10.
Kayti Burt at Den of Geek gave the film 2.5/5, praising the voice cast, and describing it as "an R-rated whodunnit horror with a twist..." and that "[i]t's not as clever as it thinks it is, but it's clever enough."
The film earned $795,848 from DVD sales and $2,673,303 from Blu-ray sales, bringing its total North American domestic home video earnings to $3,469,151.