There are so many sides to Batman. I mean that in a good way. In a new anime film from Warner Brothers Japan, Batman Ninja takes us back in time to medieval Japan. But the writer and character designer have created Batman in a way that we have never seen. Although the movie isn’t quite ready for release, it is already one of the most visually daring and astonishing Batman series that Warner Brothers has ever produced.
Think about this – Batman is decked out in shogun’s armor and wielding a katana. He charges at the Joker, who is also brandishing a sword, but the Joker is draped in a fanciful, ancient Japanese courtiers outfit that is overflowing with tattered ruffles. On a tiled roof, the pair crash and slash at one another in a dizzying flow of gorgeous sportsmanship. The Joker taunts Batman, and even though he isn’t in Gotham, he is every bit the blood-thirsty killer he has always been. The scene jumps back to a quick montage of fight scenes and we see that it’s not just Batman and the Joker who have been displaced. Nightwing, Harley Quinn, Penguin and Gorilla Grodd are all there as well.
Of course, time travel is involved in this film. How else can Batman get to medieval Japan? Jumpei Mizusaki, the film’s director said: “Batman actually time-travels from twenty-first century Gotham to the Middle Ages of Japan. And all the villains also actually time-travel, so they have an epic battle in the era of warring states in Japan.” Which sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?
Leo Chu, one of the film’s English language screenwriters commented on how time travel factors into the film’s story. “[He does] this great thing that he did in Afro Samurai which blends sort of feudal and traditional Japanese things with technology and modern technology. And in this time-travel story, that really helped inform our adaptation, so it really becomes about the natural world and traditional world versus the high-tech world, and what that means for each of the characters from Batman’s world of villains.” The backdrop is of traditional Japan, with the foreground being more modern in order to achieve a dichotomy.
Why are they using a present-day Batman rather than one from that time frame? And how are they addressing time travel, to begin with? The language is something to consider as well. How do they all learn Japanese? Or will a language barrier be factored into the film? So many questions, with so few answers.
The film was previewed at New York Comic Con, but the panelists were tight-lipped on some of the plot details. So we will have to wait until 2018 to get some of the above questions answered. But the movie looks like it will be an interesting twist on a character that so many people know and love. Will the hardcore Batman fans be able to get on board with this version? We will find out in a few months when the film gets released.