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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.