Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman [2003]

Batman_mystery_Batwoman_kyra_sedgewick

"Are there no other flying mammals for these newbs to pick?"

"Are there no other flying mammals for these newbs to pick?"

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (B:MotB) feels like a long well done episode more than a movie.  It would be unfair to compare it to the highly regarded Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.  That was a very special film from a different era.  This film does not delve into Bat’s psyche that way.  Rather it focuses on, unsurprisingly, him figuring out the identity of the formidable and entertaining Batwoman.

Batman_mystery_Batwoman_Detective_cape

Summing the plot in a sentence:  When a mysterious female bat-themed vigilante starts wreaking havoc on Gotham’s gangland with a little too much abandon it is up to Batman to get to the bottom of who it is while along the way meeting a bevy of pretty women and even going on a few dates -as Bruce Wayne of course.

Pretty, and pretty clumsy scientist Dr. Roxanne 'Rocky' Ballantine.  Voiced entertainingly by Kelly Ripa.  Regis Philbin voiced Bane...

Pretty, and pretty clumsy scientist Dr. Roxanne 'Rocky' Ballantine. Voiced entertainingly by Kelly Ripa. Regis Philbin voiced Bane...

Not all bats are created equal.  Here is something you will never see Batman do.

Not all bats are created equal. Here is something you will never see Batman do. (Besides, there is no way THAT could fit in a utility belt.)

The animation quality was good.  There were plenty of dark shadows and contrast.  New locations in Gotham like a nightclub where Bruce Wayne and a certain female go on a date were interesting.  Of course, the date is interrupted by heroes and villains duking it out.  Bruce Wayne’s social life is …complicated.

Batman_mystery_Batwoman_Kathleen 'Kathy' Duquesne_dress

The are enough pretty suspects in B:MotB to make both Catwoman and Batgirl jealous.  In the case of the latter, it did!  Barbara Gordon AKA Batgirl, definitely going through her crushing on Bruce Wayne phase, was smarty and conveniently kept away at college.  Oh, it would have been fun to see the sparks fly between Batwoman and Batgirl though.

Pretty, and pretty much fully crushing on Bruce Wayne/Batman.  A rendition of Barbara GOrdon that clearly shows the art direction of this movie.  BTW, is black lipstick the rage on campus?

Pretty, and pretty much crushing on Bruce Wayne. A rendition of Barbara Gordon that clearly shows the art direction of this movie. BTW, is black lipstick the rage on campus?

2003 is about 4 years after the last Batman: The Animated Series spin-off ended.  It was good to hear the voice actors from that era reunited for this production.  Including Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon, and of course Efrem Zimbalist Jr. delivering Alfred’s well written cracks with awesome dryness.

Your going to have to train a lot earlier in the morning to catch the Batman with a hit like this.  BTW men, be careful how you compliment a woman's outfit...

Your going to have to train a lot earlier in the morning to catch the Batman with a hit like this. BTW men, be careful how you compliment a woman's outfit...

Pretty, and pretty rich.  Try keeping your eyes on the road or you will be paying for reconstructive surgury.

Pretty, and pretty rich. Keep your eyes on the road or you will be paying for reconstructive surgery.

Hector Elizondo performed a new and menacing voice for Bane, who was treated well and quite powerfully.  He got sufficient comeuppance for satisfaction, but the bosses who hired him, Thorne and the Penguin were never shown to have fully gotten theirs.

Batman_mystery_Batwoman_bane_elizando_car

Pretty and - wait.  Sheesh.  Even female police detectives are pretty?  Are there any non-good-looking and in-shape women in all of Gotham City?

Pretty and - wait. Sheesh. Even female police detectives are pretty? Are there any non-good-looking and in-shape women in all of Gotham City?

While the story was not a big one, it was decent and filled with some witty moments.  Like when a henchman that Bats had previously given a black eye finds the detective snooping around in a room.  They stare at each other for a moment.  Batman gives him the narrow eyes.  Then the henchman quietly closes the door and walks away like he never saw a thing.  Heh.

Batman does not even have to turn his head to clobber run-of-the-mill henchmen.

Batman does not even have to turn his head to clobber run-of-the-mill henchmen.

Is Batwoman a flop at syncronized dancing?  Does she dance like Elaine from Seinfeld?  How many captions can you write for a goofy looking screen cap?

Is Batwoman a flop at syncronized dancing? Does she dance like Elaine from Seinfeld? How many captions can you write for a goofy looking screen cap?

The admirable art direction’s efforts to make the production stylish was not missed.  2003 being in the middle of the Justice League era, Batman was long-eared and in an even more monochromatic outfit than usual.  The Batwoman and all the female characters were drawn well.  The attractiveness came from the well drawn female form rather than any overt sexiness.  Although, they were all in amazingly remarkable shape…

Someone needs to open up a "24 Hour Fitness" in Gotham.  They'd make a killing!

Someone needs to open up a "24 Hour Fitness" in Gotham. They'd make a killing! Who is the real Batwoman? How much lipstick is sold in Gotham City? Watch to get at least one of these answers.

B:MotB is really more detective story than super hero film.  Oh there are plenty of fight scenes, but it is mostly Batman or the Batwoman (and occasionally both) beating up henchman.    It is not a movie about heavy hitters.  Bane only comes in as muscle in the end.  So the lack of focus on a real villain is a drawback.

"Helicopter?  I don't need no stinking helicopter!"

"Helicopter? I don't need no stinkin' helicopter!"

A design borrowed from Miyazaki's never completed "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind 2000".

A design borrowed from Miyazaki's never completed "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind 2000".

On the plus side the secret of the Batwoman was held back for most of the feature.  Most viewers will be kept guessing, and the plot provided enough half leads and mis-leads to keep it interesting.

Can you find Batman in this picture?  (If you guessed 'inside the spotlight' you are correct!)

Can you find Batman in this picture? (If you guessed 'inside the spotlight' you are correct!)

B:MotB does not add anything permanent nor give us any new insights into the Batman universe.  However, if you like Batman and the pleasingly stylized female form (kicking butt), this is a good choice for your hour and fourteen minutes.

We would enjoy seeing more of this version of teh Batwoman.  BTW, nice "Kung Fu" pose there girlie.

We would enjoy seeing more of this version of the Batwoman. BTW, nice "Kung Fu" pose there girlie.

Check Out Takes on Other Batman Related Media

Batman: Under the Red Hood [2010]

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths [2010]

Justice League: The New Frontier [2008]

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies [2009]

Batman: The Brave and the Bold

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11 thoughts on “Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman [2003]

  1. I pretty much agree with you here. Some good action, good mystery, but lack of threatening villain and a lackluster ending hurt. A fun movie, but nowhere near the quality of Mask of the Phantasm.

    • Mask of the Phantasm is a hard act to beat. It is interesting looking at Phantasm and B: MotB through “modern” eyes. We are in the midst of a glut of direct-to-DVD comic based animated features. Both mentioned releases hold up as more mature in plot and pace, and less about action for action’s sake.

      Today’s producers would do well to learn from these past Batman entries.

  2. He is a master at his work although a couple of my friends who draw feel that he has flaws. His original artwork may but I’m simply here to appreciate.
    🙂 You should. Suck up that praise like I know you want to XD
    I know I would!

  3. I enjoyed Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, and your review, but what’s with the half arsed Batgirl costume, since when did she have an outfit made of tin foil?

    • We surmise the gray was a good way to differentiate the Batgirl costume from the Batwoman costume. It did look good on her (and her, and her). Yeah, it was a little reflective, but we surmise if you spend that much time in the gym you do not mind.

      PS – Considering it is DC, we suspect we will soon see another variant for Batlass.

  4. Great take, as always.
    One question: Every Batman movie you review is always compared to The Mask of Phantasm. So where is the take on that…?

    • Thank you for paying such close attention. Indeed you are right. We often compare Batman movies to Mask of the Phantasm. The Batwoman film is much less seminal. Considering how many Batman movies and series have made their way to the Fortress, perhaps it is time we did something about it.

      I'm Batman.

  5. Great take on this fun movie. I have to say that I don’t really “get” Mask. I understand it’s good, but fail to see where its greatness that everyone talks about comes from. Oh well.

    I literally just got done with Batman/Superman Public Enemies (it just ended), and I worry that they are running out of steam with the DC movies. I get that they can’t all be gems – and I appreciate that they change the animation looks for these films – but I just don’t think the quality is up to snuff anymore.

    With BS: PE, I got to a point where I literally could care less what happens. You KNOW the good guys win, but they didn’t tell the story in a way that was engaging.

    Maybe if they stopped trying to be so clever/innovative with the character designs and instead just chose ONE – maybe then they could focus on the story. I dunno. They want these to be PG-13, and they have the elements that will guarentee that rating (this one said it was rated PG-13 partly because of “a” crude comment). The thing they forget is that a PG-13 audience is going to be more mature (unless you are a bad parent and let your 4-yr old watch it), so the story needs to be more engaging. So you want to make the Superman Apocalypse movie where the two baddies beat the crap out of each other for 20 minutes with no one having lasting injuries? Fine. Cool. Make it PG. Don’t expect an older audience to sit through that – when we want our fix of that, we just roam around the city in GTA IV. At least then, WE are active in the event.

    Sorry. Anywho, great review.

    • Nice to hear from you. This is an insightful comment that puts a finger on what has been rummaging around in the back of the collective Fortress mind. DC has indeed gone so far out of their way to be “innovative” that they have made a mismatching, jumbled collection of unrelated one offs. (Some would say “uninteresting” as well.)

      People very much liked Justice League. They could get into the characters, consistent art direction, and long arcing story. DC may want to consider a model more along a limited series line. Not unlike some animes with finite story arcs that go 12-24 episodes.

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