Warner Bros. and DC Comics have typically produced better-than-average animated series based on some of their most iconic characters - but for older fans, the cumbersome restrictions of network television were often all too apparent. With the release of Superman: Doomsday in 2007, it was exciting to realize that the burgeoning line of DC Universe Animated Original Movies could use the direct-to-video format to tell more adult-oriented stories.
From the onset of these films, a large number of Batman fans were clamoring for an animated adaptation of Frank Miller's seminal origin story Batman: Year One. The original four-issue comic book series details Bruce Wayne's return to Gotham, the beginnings of his war on crime, and his initial encounters with a noble police lieutenant named James Gordon. This arc was clearly a major influence on Batman Begins, but the desire to see a more straightforward interpretation has not dissipated - and now we're finally getting our chance.
Batman: Year One is the latest addition to the growing library of DCU animated films and directors Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery (Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths) have promised that the film will be incredibly faithful to the source material. It features the voices of Ben McKenzie (Southland) as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) as James Gordon, Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) as Detective Sarah Essen, and Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse) as Selina Kyle/Catwoman.
The first trailer for the film just popped up on MTV and if this brief glimpse is any indication, the directors weren't simply giving fans lip service. There might not be a whole lot to go one here, but at the very least it seems like the atmosphere of the comic has been preserved. Check it out:
Just as the early images we caught a glimpse of back in April indicated, the animators have accurately duplicated David Mazzucchelli's artwork and Richmond Lewis' muted color palette. It's also encouraging to see that they seem to be trying to retain Year One's aggressive nature as well. It always takes some time to get used to hearing a new actor voicing the Caped Crusader, and even if McKenzie's delivery seems a bit soft for Miller's decidedly militant take on the character, the film itself doesn't look like it will be pulling any punches.
As the trailer advertises, a 15-minute short film focusing on Catwoman will also be included with Batman: Year One. Dushku reprises the title role for a story that pits Selina against Rough Cut - a new villain voiced by John DiMaggio (Futurama).
The DC animated movies have been admittedly hit-or-miss, so hopefully Batman: Year One won't succumb to the same fate as something like All-Star Superman - another otherwise faithful adaptation that suffered from an abbreviated running time. At the very least, the film should help hold over Batman fans anxiously awaiting the release of The Dark Knight Rises.
Batman: Year One will be released on DVD, Blu-ray, and Video OnDemand on October 18, 2011. Comic-Con attendees can catch the world premiere of the film on July 22 in Ballroom 20 at 8:00 pm. Boomkark our Comic-Con 2011 Official Coverage page now and be on the lookout for our early review of the film during the convention's run.