Inspired by the comic book series by Mike Mignola, Richard Pace and Troy Nixey, Warner Bros. Animation's Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham is a 1920s-based tale that finds explorer Bruce Wayne accidentally unleashing an ancient evil, expediting his return to Gotham City after a two-decade hiatus.
The logic/science-driven Batman must battle Lovecraftian supernatural forces threatening the sheer existence of Gotham, along the way being aided and confronted by reimagined versions of his well-known allies and enemies, including Green Arrow, Ra’s al Ghul, Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc, Two-Face, James Gordon and Bruce’s beloved wards.
This mystical, often terrifying Batman adventure unlike any other sees Batman: Soul of the Dragon star David Giuntoli (Grimm) reprise the role of the Caped Crusader.
The actor has already proven himself a dab hand at playing Elseworlds versions of Bruce Wayne, but this might be his most interesting and exciting take on the character yet.
Earlier this month, we spoke with Giuntoli about his role in the movie, learning more about his approach to Batman, why finding the right voice was such a challenge, and what he loves about Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham's H.P. Lovecraft-inspired DC Universe.
You can check out our full conversation below.
This is the second time you’ve played an Elseworlds Batman, but what have you enjoyed most about stepping into the shoes of a Bruce Wayne who doesn’t necessarily fit that very familiar archetype?
I have to say, getting to watch the first one just prior to voicing the second was really fun for me. I got to see, in Soul of the Dragon, that I can go much further with these voices than I would with on-screen acting. It was so helpful. It gave me the internal permission to go so much larger with my choices and it was really fun. For whatever reason, they keep selecting me for these ‘Bruce Wayne: The Early Years’ movies [Laughs] and I’m just so happy. You get to meet Bruce at a time when it’s not as explored to the general public. Comic book nerds are certainly aware of this era, but not everyone it, so that’s fun.
Given that The Doom That Came To Gotham is based on a very specific comic book, did that factor into your preparation at all or even change how you approached Batman this time?
Yeah. I try not to prepare much outside of working with the directors of these films, Sam Liu and Wes Gleason, because they’re different takes. I don’t want to get locked into another actor’s version of a story; I don’t really need to read the comic book, and I haven’t, because I had the script in front of me. That lets me get a feel of the world as much as I need to. I just tried to prepare my voice a little bit. I tried to physically prepare my vocal cords for what I absolutely know I’m going to be put through physically on the days I’m recording because, as you know, in this particular movie, you have Bruce Wayne who is already not an alto. He has a fairly deep voice, but then you have to be Batman and be Batman giving over to another realm. That’s a whole other level of deep, gravelly…I get intimidated and nervous before I do it, and I can only I hope I deliver.
I loved that this is a Batman that gets more and more beaten up but will not stop fighting; do you think Bruce is a character at his best when he’s put through the wringer?
He’s certainly more fun to play. One of the cool things about Batman is that he carries with him such a darkness. It’s probably ahead of its time as far as heroes go in a narrative sense. That is what informs, from my point of view, and defines him. The darkness and suffering that lends itself to that darkness. It’s such a cool character and my favourite, quote-unquote, superhero and certainly more fun to play.
You’ve spent a fair bit of time in Batman’s cape and cowl now, but how would you say your perception of the character has changed since prior to you being cast in the role for the first time?
The cool thing I’ve got to do is meet Bruce Wayne before he was Batman. That is not a typical arc for people who play Batman. The Batmen out there. I’ve gotten to be the younger, fledgling Batman and it’s been a special thing to walk in his shoes during that developmental time of his life. In this movie, Bruce Wayne has just come back to Gotham after 10 or 20 years of travelling the world and acquiring the skills that, eventually in this film, allow him to step into the role of Batman for the first time. That is just so cool.
The relationships between these characters was definitely a highlight for me as a viewer and I feel like Bruce’s friendship with Oliver Queen must have been another fun aspect of this story to explore?
Kai Li. This father/daughter mentor/mentee thing, with each side adding to the perspective of the other. It’s a wonderful balance and I think Bruce is this natural leader who has had a similar hard life to her. Their steel has been strengthened and sharpened by their lives, and I think he will eventually pass his responsibilities as Batman on to her. I really enjoy that dynamic.
In terms of balancing what makes Batman such a great hero with the darkness that’s inside him, particularly in this story, what would you say is the biggest challenge that presents?
Literally, I think the physicality and getting you voice there. I know it’s not the sexiest answer in the world, but the challenge for me is literally my vocal cords getting to a point where I can go to three levels. Bruce Wayne, Batman, and then dark, suffering Batman. It’s hard to do for me. People now know I’ve voiced Batman in my life and I’ll get requests. I’m sure there’s some kind of trademark infringement here, but they’ll say, ‘Hey, my son is turning 8. Can you leave a voice memo for him as Batman?’ I even feel nervous to do that! ‘Oh no, I have to get so gruff and get my vocal cords to this register that is just unnatural for them.’ [Laughs] I feel this pressure to live up to it and that’s the biggest challenge.
You mention pressure, but you’re used to having a huge fanbase after starring in a show like Grimm, so do you feel having that experience took it off at all as you joined this DC Universe?
I’m sure, somehow, it took the pressure off in some way. But no, I always feel nervous and the pressure before stepping into a new role but that’s the fun part of what we do. Or any job really, otherwise, what’s the point? Batman is a whole other level and Grimm is a whole other character. It made me feel new again and that’s the fun of it.
Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham is now available to own on Digital, 4K and Blu-ray!