Under Review: ‘Batman: Year One’


In 1987, Frank Miller wrote one of the most famous and significant Batman stories of all time with “Batman: Year One,” which was an inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” where the focus was on making the world of Batman more gritty and realistic. Now, DC Universe has brought Miller’s successful Batman story to the small screen as the latest animated original movie.

Here’s the official synopsis:

    When Gotham City is in desperate need of heroes, two men take a stand for justice … but on opposite sides. Bruce Wayne returns home after years abroad to become a crime fighter, just as honest as cop Lt. James Gordon moves to Gotham and finds corruption at every level. When Bruce becomes the masked vigilant Batman, the city explodes as his new nemesis Catwoman, the mob and Gordon all close in.

“Year One” is one of my favorite Batman comics and I will say right away – they succeeded in staying true to the source material. The dialogue, the biggest events and so much more are well adapted from the pages to animated scenes. There were, of course, a few changes, but when you listen to Gordon’s thoughts being narrated, as well as those of Bruce himself, and compare it to the dialogue from the novel – you will find them almost the same and that was one important factor to me while seeing the movie.

The animation was incredibly done — like the other DC Animated movies — and seeing some of most iconic scenes from “Year One” brought to moving animation was fantastic. It really shows how much respect the makers of “Batman: Year One” have for the original material from Miller. I went back and looked at some of the iconic scenes from the book and compared them to the ones in the movie – and I can’t complain at all.

The story itself was a really dark one — gritty and realistic — which I can see as problem for a younger audience. But for fans who love this story as much as I do, I think this movie was more pointed to us than to a younger audience.

There was, however, only one issue that I have: the voice cast. I will focus on the two most important characters in this movie because they are also the most important ones in the “Year One” graphic novel – Bruce/Batman and Jim Gordon. While it was a disappointment that Kevin Conroy wasn’t cast for the role, as he is the iconic voice for Batman, Ben McKenzie was instead handed the mantle of the caped crusader. I wouldn’t say that he was horrible — there were times that I think he did a good job — but there were also a few moments when his voice wasn’t believable as either the playboy billionaire or the Dark Knight. Well, at least I can expect to hear Conroy back as Batman in “Justice League: Doom.”

Then there is Jim Gordon. I grew up listening to Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon in “Batman: The Animated Series” and he has always been a great voice for Gordon. Bryan Cranston had the responsibility of voicing Gotham’s most honest cop. He did a better job than McKenzie — not by that much, but at least better.

If you are a Batman fan and a fan of Nolan’s work on the character, then “Batman: Year One” is definitely something that will interest you. If you want to see how truly amazing the original material is, then you should read the original “Year One” by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli – you can purchase it on Amazon by clicking on the link.

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