Batman: Year One (film)

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Batman: Year One
Batman- Year One Blu-Ray.jpg
Blu-ray cover
Directed by Sam Liu
Lauren Montgomery
Produced by Lauren Montgomery
Alan Burnett
Screenplay by Tab Murphy
Based on Batman: Year One 
by Frank Miller
David Mazzucchelli
Starring Benjamin McKenzie
Bryan Cranston
Eliza Dushku
Jon Polito
Alex Rocco
Katee Sackhoff
Jeff Bennett
Grey DeLisle
Fred Tatasciore
Liliana Mumy
Robin Atkin Downes
Music by Christopher Drake
Edited by Margaret Hou
Distributed by Warner Home Video
Release dates
  • October 18, 2011 (2011-10-18)
Running time
64 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3.5 million[1]
Box office $5,251,108 DVD[2]

Batman: Year One is a 2011 animated superhero film based on the four-issue story arc Batman: Year One printed in 1987. It premiered at Comic-Con on July 22 and was officially released October 18, 2011. The film was directed by Lauren Montgomery and Sam Liu.[3][4] It is the 12th film released under the DC Universe Animated Original Movies banner, and was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital copy.[5]


Bruce Wayne, heir to Wayne Electronics, returns home to Gotham City after 12 years abroad with secret plan of a war on Gotham's many criminals, and Lieutenant James Gordon moves to Gotham with his pregnant wife, Barbara, after a transfer from Chicago. Both are swiftly acquainted with the corruption and violence of Gotham City, with Gordon witnessing his partner Detective Arnold Flass assaulting a teen for fun. Bruce has learned several fighting skills throughout his travels abroad and gains abnormal physical prowess, bring a tree down with one kick completely breaking through its trunk. Despite his physical capabilities, skills and access to equipment, he still feels that he is not yet ready to use them and that something is missing from his crime fighting persona.

Gordon works to rid corruption from the force, but on orders from Commissioner Gillian Loeb, several masked officers attack him, including Flass, who threatens Gordon’s pregnant wife. Bruce goes in disguise on a surveillance mission in the seedy East End, where teenage prostitute Holly Robinson propositions him. He is drawn into a brawl with her pimp and several prostitutes, including Holly and dominatrix Selina Kyle, using his combat skills and prowess to defeat all of them. One of the two reporting police officers shoot him, seemingly unprovoked, and take him in their squad car. A dazed and bleeding Wayne maneuvers his handcuffed hands in front of himself, and demands the police get out. The cops try to subdue him, but the ensuing struggle causes the police car to careen out of control, and flip. Wayne flees, but not before dragging the police to a safe distance from the burning car, reasoning that even if they are bad people, they may still have family that love them and miss them. Gordon tracks Flass down, drives him off the road, beats him up, and leaves him naked and handcuffed in the snow, all to ensure that he never goes after Barbara. Wayne reaches Wayne Manor, barely alive, and sits before his father’s bust, requesting guidance in his war on crime. He finds himself willing to die if he cannot find an element of his persona which his enemies will truly fear, intimidation being a primary weapon against criminals. A bat crashes through a window and settles on the bust, screeching at Bruce, all of which gives him his inspiration.

As Gordon becomes a minor celebrity for his bravery on the job, he struggles with the fact that he would bring an innocent child into such a corrupt environment. Batman strikes for the first time, attacking a group of thieves, though Bruce is clumsy in his strategy in his fight with them, only using his strength and skill, something that allows the thieves to land several blows on him and one of them almost falling to his death after Batman jumps into their midsts and is surrounded while attacking them. Bruce improves on this amateur combat strategy and use a combination of his bat wing like cape, the cover of darkness and his quick mobility to make his enemies believe he is some form of inhuman being. His later activities do not go unnoticed by the police, especially its corrupt members. At this point, Batman's mysterious presence and constant use of darkness for cover have caused people to either believe he is a giant bat or a bat like creature, while others believe he is a man in a costume or something between in between. He has been working up the ladder of criminals, attacking junkies, drug pushers and their suppliers, as well as corrupt police members, such as Flass, while he was being bribed by thieves. Batman attacks a dinner attended by Loeb and others of Gotham's wealthiest, including crime boss Carmine "The Roman" Falcone, announcing that none of them are safe and they will soon not be able to drain Gotham's wealth anymore. Loeb tasks the police to bring Batman down by any means necessary.

As Gordon tries in vain to catch him, Batman attacks Falcone, stripping him naked and tying him up in his bed after dumping his car in the river. Assistant district attorney Harvey Dent becomes Batman’s first ally.

Detective Sarah Essen suggests Wayne as a Batman suspect due to Wayne being the wealthiest man in Gotham, easily allowing him access to the equipment Batman possesses and having the possible motive of his parents being murdered in front of him when he was a child. She and Gordon witness Batman save an old woman from a runaway truck. Essen holds Batman at gunpoint, but Batman pushes her down, dropping her weapon and flees to an abandoned building. Loeb fraudulently orders a bomb dropped on it, seemingly forcing Batman into the fortified basement. A SWAT team is sent in that injure Batman repeatedly injured by gunfire and being struck in hand to hand fights where Batman is outnumbered. The teams infamous, trigger-happy Lieutenant Branden, whom Batman attempts to trap in the basement, manages to climb out of the trap through a collapsed chimney, and joins in the gun battle. Enraged as the team’s careless gunfire injures several people outside, Batman beats the team into submission. Using a ultrasonic device from his company to attract the bats of his cave, a device he had not tested at such a distance, Batman escapes the building amid the chaos on a motorcycle, despite the police, including Loeb pursuing him and Loeb having a helicopter sniper try to shoot him. Selina Kyle, after witnessing him in action, dons a costume of her own to begin the life as Catwoman.

Gordon has a brief affair with Essen, while Batman intimidates and beats a drug dealer for information. The dealer goes to Gordon to testify against Flass, who is brought up on charges. Loeb blackmails Gordon with proof of his affair against pressing charges. After taking Barbara with him to investigate Wayne's connection to Batman, Gordon confesses the affair to her.

Batman sneaks into Falcone’s manor and overhears a plan against Gordon but is interrupted when Catwoman, hoping to build a reputation after her robberies were pinned on Batman, attacks Falcone and his bodyguards, aided by Batman. Identifying Falcone’s plan as the morning comes, the un-costumed Bruce leaves to help Gordon.

Gordon tries to rebuild his relationship with his family after Essen leaves Gotham. While leaving home, Gordon spots a motorcyclist enter his garage. Suspicious, Gordon enters to see Johnny Vitti, Falcone’s nephew, and his thugs holding his family hostage. Gordon realizes if he lets them go, they will most likely kill his wife and son. Therefore, Gordon shoots the thugs and chases Vitti, who has fled with the baby. Bruce Wayne, on a motorcycle, also rushes to chase Vitti but is shot off by Gordon, mistaking him for an attacker, with Gordon taking the cycle. Bruce, with his face covered by darkness, convinces Barbara not to shoot him with a captured revolver by promising that he will save her son, taking off on foot, using his acrobatic ability to travel atop buildings and jumping on a truck following the chase. Gordon blows out Vitti's car tire on a bridge and the two fight, with Gordon losing his glasses, before Vitti and James Gordon Jr. fall over the side. Bruce leaps over the railing and saves the baby. Gordon realizes that he is standing before an unmasked Batman, but says that he is "practically blind without [his] glasses," and lets Bruce go.

Gordon and his wife start attending marriage counseling. Loeb is forced into early retirement, while Flass makes a deal with prosecutors to testify against him. Gordon, meanwhile, is promoted to Captain. When a criminal who "calls himself the Joker" threatens to poison the city's reservoir, Gordon waits on a rooftop for the Dark Knight to arrive.



Producer Bruce Timm noted that the adaption of the film was relatively straightforward due to the cinematic nature of the original story arc. Bryan Cranston originally turned down the role as James Gordon because he was unfamiliar with both animation and classic comics. Cranston said "I wasn't aware of this level of storytelling in animation."[6]


Batman: Year One received positive reviews upon its release. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 86% based on reviews from 7 critics, with an average rating of 6.8 out of 10.[7]

An IGN review of the film, after its Comic-Con screening, praised the voice actors and concluded with, "This is real, serious adult entertainment that should satisfy longtime fans and newcomers as well."[4] Another review from IGN panned the film, describing it as "dead on arrival – a lifeless bore with stale voice work and a disjointed, sporadic narrative that was best kept on the pages of Frank Miller's stellar graphic novel."[8] Tommy Cook of Collider called the film a "faithful adaptation".[9] The A.V. Club gave the film an A-, saying "Batman: Year One is a stellar adaptation, copying Miller’s words and Mazzucchelli’s images almost verbatim at times." Concluding that, "It all recalls what it felt like to read Batman: Year One for the first time, and sense that this was a story that had always existed."[10]

Cinemacrazed criticized the short run time of the film as its main downfall.[11] James O'Ehley of SciFiMoviePage notes that the faithfulness to the source material works for and against the film, with voiceover and dialog slowing down the action, and he goes on to say how the animation could be bolder, the voices gruffer and the sound more stirring but that overall the film is better than other DC animated films.[12]

In an article for The Missing Slate discussing the influence of the comic version of Batman: Year One on film depictions of the Caped Crusader, Michael Dodd praised the casting of Bryan Cranston as Jim Gordon. Referencing Cranston's famous role as Walter White on Breaking Bad, he argued that the choice of casting "truly encompassed the character's determination and downright badass attitude in the comic Year One".[13]

Home video[edit]

The DVD and Blu-ray release includes a short animated film titled Catwoman. In the film, Catwoman deals with the crime boss Rough Cut (voiced by John DiMaggio) while trying to stop a cargo shipment.[14] There is also a sneak peek for the film Justice League: Doom, two featurettes, a commentary, a digital comic book, two Batman: The Animated Series episodes ("Catwalk" and "Cult of the Cat"), a standard edition of the film, and a high definition edition of the film.[5]

Connections to Other Works[edit]

Ben McKenzie would later go on to play James Gordon in television series Gotham.


External links[edit]