You might think that you've seen every side of Gotham's most famous son, but even the biggest Batman fans might not be prepared for what awaits them in Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham. In this new DC animated movie, now available on digital and disc, viewers get to see a take on the hero that’s much more terror-drenched than typical. Based on the Elseworlds story of the same name by Mike Mignola with Richard Pace, Troy Nixey, Dennis Janke and Dave Stewart, the period yarn sees Bruce Wayne on a cosmic horror adventure inspired by the stories of H.P. Lovecraft.
For returning Batman voice actor David Giuntoli—who first voiced the caped crusader in Batman: Soul of the Dragon—the wild alt-universe story immediately appealed as it not only introduced a whole new world but also showcased multiple sides of the heroic figure.
“When I got the script, I realized I'm playing one character, but I'm also playing three characters: Bruce Wayne, the seeker of the secret knowledge; Batman, the bestower of justice; and also this other level of Batman where he's given over to this other realm and is taken over in a certain way,” he explains. “So there are three levels and it was really fun to play.”
Directed by Sam Liu and Christopher Berkeley, Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham begins after an expedition to the arctic goes awry, leaving Bruce Wayne to solve just what happened in the monstrous wilds. It's an explosive start that leans heavily into the Lovecraft story “In the Mountains of Madness,” and for Liu it was a chance to visit one of his favorite genres.
“I love Gothic horror,” he enthuses. “I think it's not even so much about the horror element of it, but I think that good Gothic horror features a parallel of humanity within it. The monsters are just people that sort of don't fit into society.”
Both Liu and his co-director Berkeley were excited to approach the unusual material, though they both agreed that it's an exceedingly "weird" book.
“I'd read the comic before,” Berkeley elaborates. “This was before there were any plans to make it into a movie. It was interesting, but I was a little confused because I wasn't as knowledgeable about a lot of Cthulhu-ish, Lovecraftian stuff at that time. But it actually gatewayed me into learning about it.”
When it came to adapting the film, Berkeley was quick to accept the project.
“I read the script and was like, ‘Oh, okay, this is gonna be fun,’” he shares. “The horror aspect just made it much more interesting to work on. Especially trying to build toward a finale.”
The Doom That Came to Gotham’s unusual narrative sees our hero go on a twisted journey of self-discovery that forces him to challenge everything he believes in. It's something that Giuntoli in particular can't wait for fans to experience.
“I think what's fun about this is that Batman—I should say Bruce Wayne—is so clearly scientifically and logic-minded, almost to a fault. In this movie, he is really pressed to have to give over to a completely different set of assumptions, beliefs and rules.”
Giuntoli was also quick to celebrate the ensemble cast he worked with, in particular Uncharted’s Tati Gabrielle, who voices Batman's young charge, Kai Li Cain, another of the actor's favorite parts of the movie.
“I think the dynamic between Kai Li and Bruce is great, it's so fun,” he shares. “He respects her so much. She kind of pushes him to see this other side of things and they're so different, but they round each other out so well. It was really fun to play him in that particular dynamic.”
But while viewers are likely familiar with the likes of Dick Grayson (who also appears in the movie) and Damian Wayne (who does not), Kai Li Cain is a new character unique to this story. So, who exactly is she?
"She's a mash-up of Cassandra Cain, Tim Drake and Carrie Kelly," explains Gabrielle. "I didn't want to do too deep of a dive because I didn't want to oversaturate my mind and then start to overthink it. I just wanted to give my own take of what a right hand could be to Batman, and I think a more relatable or grounded version of that, as opposed to seeing a Robin."
How do you approach a character who has to bond with a brooding, secretive and troubled man like Batman? In this case, it was all about finding the things that Kai Li and Bruce have in common.
"I think that what they do share is a difficult past which has caused them both a lot of pain,” says Gabrielle. “That's what Kai Li sees and understands the most in Bruce—that pain he carries and why he is the way that he is. So, I think when interacting with him, she's always coming from a place of empathy. She's offering him a hand and offering him a chance to escape that dark reality, even just for a moment, or to see a new perspective away from it.”
The other most important ally in Batman's life during the events of The Doom That Came to Gotham is perhaps a surprising one—Oliver Queen, played here by Christopher Gorham. It's a challenging role that pushes Oliver into increasingly dark places.
"I have to credit Wes Gleason, our voice acting director, for helping to shape it because we come in and don't have a lot of time,” Gorham acknowledges. “Wes was a great partner to very quickly find Oliver’s voice. This movie is set in 1928, so the vocabulary is a little different and he needs a bit of an accent, so we had to very quickly find that. That allowed me to play and go to really fun places, and encouraged me to also give some really vulnerable and heartfelt moments in the movie that I think help tell the story."
Crafting The Doom That Came to Gotham’s eccentric and often very tipsy iteration of Green Arrow was “the best,” screenwriter Jase Ricci shared enthusiastically.
“With Oliver Queen, I think the relationship between him and Kai Li—I could have done a series on them,” he admits. “I just love those two and I loved his character. I think Mr. Gorham knocked it out of the park because he had to deliver so much pathos and so much sacrifice, but also be the comic relief.”
If the thought of a Batman/Lovecraft mash-up has you frothing at the mouth—or perhaps, ready to leave an offering to Cthulhu in thanks—know that you’re not alone. The Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham team is just as excited for you to see the movie as you are to watch it.
"It's awesome!" Ricci gushes before admitting he can't share too many plot details for fear of harsh—but humorous—repercussions from one of DC's biggest names. "I don't want to get in trouble. Honestly, I am more afraid of Bruce Timm than I am of Lovecraft."
Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham is now available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray and Digital. Seen the movie and looking to dive deeper? Check out this month’s edition of Gotham Gazette to discover how it takes Batman out of his comfort zone.
Rosie Knight is an award-winning journalist and author who loves Swamp Thing, the DC Cosmic and writing about those and more here at DC.com. You can listen to her waxing lyrical about comics, movies and more each week as she co-hosts Crooked Media's pop-culture podcast, X-Ray Vision.