The Animated Batman Movie EVERYONE Ignored

The Last DCAU Movie... For 14 Years

Batman Mystery of the Batwoman
Warner Bros.

When Mystery of the Batwoman released in 2003, The New Batman Adventures hadn't been on air for four years. Instead, there were two DCAU shows currently on the air: Static Shock, based on the Milestone character Virgil Hawkins, and Justice League, which featured Batman as a leading character. Even so, Mystery of the Batwoman retained the art style used in TNBA, and assumedly takes place just before or even during the events of the Justice League TV show.

The DCAU still had another three years to go before it would conclude in Justice League Unlimited's "Destroyer", and at the time, there was no indication that Mystery of the Batwoman would be the franchise's final feature-length offering - at least for a while. Because of the simple fact that it *was* the last DCAU film though, it is surprising that it isn't talked about more.

The film's premise is pretty self-explanatory. As Penguin (David Ogden Stiers), Rupert Thorne (John Vernon) and Carlton Duquesne (Kevin Michael Richardson) escalate their arms smuggling operation in Gotham, they find themselves under attack from a new, more reckless vigilante: Batwoman (Kyra Sedgwick). With the new hero leaving a trail of destruction across Gotham, it falls to Batman (Kevin Conroy) to deduce her identity, all the while trying to put a stop to Penguin, Thorne and Duquesne's scheme.

Batman Mystery Of The Batwoman
Warner Bros.

By far the best thing about Mystery of the Batwoman is its, well... mystery. The film does a lot to keep you guessing and that's about all I can say without spoiling anything in particular. The story provides several new, compelling characters and a host of prime suspects. There's an inherent level of fun that comes with it being a mystery film too, in that you're trying to deduce who Batwoman is at the same time Batman is, and when the revelation comes, it never feels as though you've been misled.

Also, the soundtrack slaps? There's a classy sax number throughout composed by Lolita Ritmanis, and then a song called "Betcha Never", performed by an animated Cyndi Almouzni in the Iceberg Lounge about midway through the movie. It's been 17 years since I first saw this film, and it is still somehow in my head.

For all that it's easy to sing the praises of the film's swanky sax and central premise, it does feel as if it's trying to juggle too many things at once. The new characters are well acted and intriguing enough, but all would've benefited from greater exploration. Mystery of the Batwoman is only 74 minutes long, and while the three previous animated Bat-films all share a similar runtime, none were burdened with having to introduce so many new figures at once.

Equally, the film's villains - initially just the original trio, but joined by a fourth late on - don't really bring anything new to the table. They're dealing arms... and are bad... that's pretty much it.

Ultimately, Mystery of the Batwoman is still a good film, and one that's definitely worth revisiting in light of the character's success over the last decade. And speaking of...

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Content Producer/Presenter
Content Producer/Presenter

Resident movie guy at WhatCulture who used to be Comics Editor. Thinks John Carpenter is the best. Likes Hellboy a lot. Can usually be found talking about Dad Movies on his Twitter at @EwanRuinsThings.