Overview: Set in the 1920s, Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham is an Elseworlds tale based on the comic of the same name, which sees Batman face down an ancient evil while confronting that his world is not all science and logic but a world dominated by magic and ancient cults.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): The film opens with Bruce Wayne, along with Alfred, Dick Grayson, Sanjay Tawde (Jason Todd), and Kai Lin Cain (Cassandra Cain), on a journey looking for Professor Cobblepot’s lost ship. Bruce comes across Grendon (Mr. Freeze), who warns him of an ancient evil. Bruce captures Grendon and decides to return to Gotham after a 20-year absence.
Sanjay has to stay and watch Grendon on the ship while Bruce, Dick, and Kai Lin are invited to visit Oliver Queen. Before going to see Oliver, Bruce is visited by Jason Blood, aka Etrigan the Demon, who warns him of what he must do to overcome the doom that will soon visit Gotham and that Bruce Wayne must die and become himself. Bruce does not buy it because he is a man of science and does not believe in these myths.
While at Oliver’s, Bruce, Dick, and Kai Lin meet Harvey Dent, who is preparing to be sworn in as mayor very soon. Bruce leaves to go investigate the recently deceased Kirk Langstrom’s lab as Batman and discovers his secret journals. Batman reads them and discovers that Langstrom was attempting to become a Man-Bat before he died, and he and Cobblepot are in possession of a secret journal. Talia al Ghul is following Batman as he is tracking this journal.
Batman tries to stop Talia from getting the book, but she unleashes a fire monster on Batman. They battle it out, but Batman is overpowered. Etrigan returns and sacrifices himself because Batman is the only one that can stop what is coming. Batman tries to stop Talia one last time, but she has the aid of a lizard monster (who I assume is this Elseworlds version of Killer Croc). Batman is able to escape the lizard monster, and Talia plans to use the book to resurrect her father, Ra’s al Ghul.
While this is happening, Grendon kills Sanjay, and Dick, Oliver, and Kai Lin go to investigate. Dick sees Sanjay and the whole ship frozen, and the lizard monster kills Dick and kidnaps Grendon because Talia needs him because he is the “key” to her plan.
Talia resurrects her father. Batman is able to track them to a sewer underneath the city but is unable to stop them from bringing about an invasion of lizards and snakes to invade Gotham. Batman escapes but starts to see visions of the night his parents were killed, and his mind is slowly starting to realize that the world is not all black and white. Alfred wonders if he should call Arkham because Bruce has gone mad.
Ra’s and Talia kill Grendon, and from him comes a seed that becomes Poison Ivy (for real) and plans to use her to infect Harvey Dent because he is the key. She scratches Harvey, and he becomes infected with a magical rash on one side of his body. Kai Lin learns from Oliver that his father was over 300 years old and was the killer of Bruce’s parents. Oliver knows of the Doom that is coming. Poison Ivy attacks him, and he is able to kill her. As he dies, Oliver gives Batman the tools he needs to overcome the ancient evil.
Batman then visits Barbara Gordon, who is housed in Arkham, because he claims she can talk to ghosts. She is able to grant Batman the ability to visit his father in the afterlife. There Bruce learns that Thomas Wayne is hundreds of years old and was one of the first settlers in Gotham. Thomas, Oliver’s dad, Cobblepot, and Kirk Langstrom’s dad conduct a ritual to save Gotham and unleash this great evil that haunts Gotham. Knowing they had unleashed this curse had caused Langstrom to commit suicide, Oswald to leave, and Queen to kill Thomas. Thomas lets Bruce know that in order to stop this, he must become what he truly is.
Batman conducts the ritual that brings him face-to-face with Ra’s and Talia. Batman defeats Talia but is unable to stop Ra’s and he turns into a monster and overpowers Batman as the Doom is prepared to enter a doorway to Gotham. Batman then turns into an actual giant bat. Batman then defeats Ra’s and brings Etrigan back to stop the Doom from invading Gotham. The Doom is essentially a giant squid monster. In order to fully stop it, however, Gotham must burn.
Months later, after Gotham burns and is rebuilt by the Bruce Wayne Foundation, Kai Lin gives a speech that Gotham is home thanks to Bruce and wants to make Gotham the city it was always meant to be. The movie ends with Batman resting in the Gotham Clock Tower until the city needs him again.
Analysis: So I never read the comic that this movie is based on, so I cannot speak to how accurate the movie is to the source material. But this movie is just not my sensibility when it comes to Batman and the stories that I like. Magic and cults and strange monsters and all that was happening here is just not my cup of tea when it comes to Batman.
This movie did have some cool parts. I really like the first reveal of Batman, and I would totally watch a movie or a series of 1920s Batman with the old gadgets. But once it started to go deep into the ancient cults and magic, is where it kind of lost me.
David Giuntoli returns as Batman, who previously voiced the character in Batman: Soul of the Dragon, and does a great job again. I would like to see him play Batman in a more traditional Batman story. I also thought the animation was great and I like how DC is starting to tell Elseworld’s tales. If DC Animated Films became all Elseworlds tales, I wouldn’t really complain.
Editor’s Note: Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham is now available on Digital HD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD. You can order your copy and help support TBU in the process by heading over to Amazon.
Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham (2023)
Perhaps if I had read the source material and knew exactly what I was getting into then perhaps I would have enjoyed this movie more. Overall, it is just too off-model for how I enjoy a Batman story.