When it comes to beloved DC Comics series, Batman: The Long Halloween has earned a spot at the top of the list. First released in 1996-97, the comic followed a younger Batman at the start of his crime-fighting escapades along with a pre-Two Face Harvey Dent. While aspects of the series have been adapted in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and on the television show Gotham, it has never been adapted in full until now. Written for the screen by Tim Sheridan, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One stands on its own as an excellent Batman film for those who have never read the comics it was based on while containing plenty that devoted readers will recognize and love.
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One begins as Bruce Wayne settles into his second year as Batman. A killer stalks Gotham, going after associates of the Falcone crime family on holidays. Commissioner Gordon brings together Batman and Harvey Dent to track down “Holiday” while continuing their efforts to stop the Falcone crime family and clean up Gotham, with Batman working in the dark and Dent in the light. As the twists and turns mount, everyone is a suspect, and Batman must face his shortcomings to stop Holiday once and for all.
As a viewer who has not read the comics the film is based on, I found Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One to be an engrossing story with beautiful animation. The fact that Batman is newer to being Gotham’s Dark Knight adds a sense of danger to the storyline that also makes the character more interesting to watch as he stumbles, not always recognizing clues or defeating villains on the first try. The character design is impeccable and brings the feeling of reading a comic or graphic novel to life. The art overall is gorgeous and adds a lot of depth to the setting. There are several spectacular chase sequences, with one between Batman and Catwoman at the start of the film being a particular highlight.
The most important ingredient in making an animated film come to life is its voice cast, and this film has a fantastic one. Jensen Ackles, who DC fans will remember from his performance as Jason Todd in Batman: Under the Red Hood, steps into the leading role of Bruce Wayne/Batman as though it was waiting for him all along. His Batman has all the hallmarks of the iconic character while also bringing a vulnerability to the part that fits this Batman’s relative inexperience. His Bruce Wayne is distinct from his Batman, and the subtle nuances when he shifts between them are perfection. Ideally, this film will only be the start of his journey voicing the character based on his incredible performance, and it may even leave fans asking when Ackles will get the chance to play the Caped Crusader in a live-action format.
But Ackles isn’t the only actor breathing life into their characters. The late Naya Rivera’s Catwoman is seductive but surprisingly down-to-earth. Jack Quaid is creepy as Carmine Falcone’s son Alberto, quietly seething with anger in every line. Troy Baker hits all the right notes as Joker, and David Dastmalchian will have chills running up viewers’ spines with his Calendar Man, whose whispery line delivery is downright terrifying. One of the most intriguing parts of adapting this particular storyline is how many characters appear and interact with one another, and hearing the voice actors play off of each other is a joy.
Overall, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One is a worthy addition to the DC Universe Animated Original Movie series that will have fans wanting more immediately (especially after a cliffhanger ending). Thankfully, fans won’t have long to wait, with Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two coming on July 27.