BATMAN: THE DOOM THAT CAME TO GOTHAM - Check Out Our Exclusive Interview With Director And DC Veteran Sam Liu

Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham producer and director Sam Liu talks to us about taking the helm of the Caped Crusader's latest adventure, sharing what drew him to this particular Elseworlds tale...

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 is produced and directed by DC veteran Sam Liu. In recent years, he's helmed everything from Batman: The Killing Joke to Superman: Red Son and Batman: Soul of the Dragon, but The Doom That Came To Gotham marks one of his most ambitious projects to date.

Earlier this month, we got to sit down for a brief conversation with Sam about his latest addition to the DC Animated Universe. As well as explaining what drew him to this particular project, the filmmaker also shares the challenges that bringing a beloved comic book to the screen presents and reveals why he loves these DC superheroes so much.

Check out our full conversation below. 


You’ve told so many different stories set in the DC Universe over the years, but what was it about The Doom That Came To Gotham which really grabbed your interest? 

Thank you because, as a creator and director, there was a period where I didn’t want to touch Batman anymore because I was so tired of him. Once you’ve told a certain amount of stories, they aren’t as interesting or exciting. Maybe fans don’t feel that way because I understand the fandom likes a character because of a certain time or thing that they do, but I don’t know, I enjoy stories that are different. I like being able to play with their motivations and personalities. I’m glad I was able to do All-Star Superman, for example, as it was a fun thing to explore and work on. 

With this one, it was a story that myself and Jim Krieg pitched and, surprisingly enough, they actually said okay [Laughs]. I was working on a video game at the time which was a gothic horror-inspired Japanese title…the Asian horror genre is one I appreciate more as I’m getting older. In American cinema, there’s a tendency to overexplain things, and modern horror cinema isn’t as scary as it was in the past. People think they want things to be overly explained, but I like when there’s a little less of that and you have to try to connect the dots in your head. Some people want the story spoon-fed to them, but for me, the experience is not the same. I like stories where you have to decide the ending and there’s enough there to pull you one way or the other. 

This story…I was kind of an emo kid growing up and there’s an element of old Gothic tropes, but one of the main things was seeing Bruce Wayne having to give up his humanity and become a creature in the coffin in the clocktower. That’s such a universal monster idea [Laughs] but I love it. I know some fans will hate that because Batman is supposed to be ‘this’ or ‘that,’ but this is a mishmash of a gothic story with those DC elements. Putting Batman and his rogues gallery in there…that really excited me. 

This movie does fit into the visual aesthetic of recent DC movies, but still pulls a lot from the comics - what would you say is the biggest challenge you face in finding the right balance between the established visual style of this world and what we’ve seen on the page? 

Chris Samnee, who is a very popular and famous comic book artist, is someone whose style I always thought would be great for animation. He did a little pre-production work for us but is so busy, he couldn’t do everything but did the initial drawings of the characters for us. He got the book, we gave him the list of characters he needed to tackle and let him loose. 

Troy Nixey’s style is very organic and it’s hard for different artists to animate that when it’s so unique. But, we started with that as a base and, depending on the scenes, we thought a lot about what would make these scenes look scariest, right down to how we lit the city. It was painted as we wanted it to be dark at the tops of the buildings and lighter as we approach street level and that meant we could get a lot of blacks in there. 

This was a different approach to normal as there are a lot more darks and it’s very desaturated in areas. We had more top-down lighting too. Those things aren’t from the comics, but we start with those and then build it out from there to make the visuals as dynamic as possible. 

You’ve been fortunate enough to direct your fair share of Batman and Superman movies now, but when it comes to those two icons, do you have a favourite when it comes to helming them in movies like this one? 

Most of the time, I like just jumping into this world regardless of the character. I love being around these people and getting to work on A-List characters that are not specifically just for animation. They’re in movies and comic books too! They’re these well-loved characters and that’s part of why I’m so excited to be part of Warner Bros. and DC.

The whole thing of the journey of the hero…they have codes they live by and that’s very strong in each one of them. I really enjoy those elements of these characters and having them in situations where we get to see how they react when it comes down to it. They’re all proactive, right? They proactively approach situations. 

Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham will be available to own on Digital, 4K and Blu-ray on March 28, 2023!

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