In 2003, DC still had a pretty strong presence on television. Batman: The Animated Series, Superman and Batman Beyond had all concluded their runs, while Teen Titans, Static Shock, Justice League, and a new Batman cartoon were going strong. Around this time, a new movie would come about, showing that DC wasn’t just content to have their characters on TV. I remember seeing the commercials for the movie and thought it was interesting so I rented it and watched it. I thought it was entertaining but didn’t consider buying it at the time. A couple of years ago, when I started buying some of the DC animated movies, I remembered this movie and made sure to pick up a copy of today’s movie, Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman.
The plot: Some crooks are attempting to smuggle some guns through Gotham when they see shadow of a bat overhead but instead of Batman, it is a woman dressed as Batman and flying on a bat-shaped glider. Batwoman lands on the truck carrying the guns and begins destroying the crates, taking out the crooks escort car in the process. The crook riding shotgun climbs back onto the trailer and begins fighting with Batwoman, but she manages to toss him off the truck and into the water below. Batman and Robin (Tim Drake) are alerted to the commotion and as they fly there in the Batwing, they see Batwoman grab one of the guns and get back on her glider, then fires at the truck, separating the trailer from the cab and sending the cab plunging off the overpass to the city below. Batman is able to use the Batwing to stop the cab from crashing and Batwoman flies towards him and stares at him through the cockpit before flying off. The next day, Rupert Thorne and Carlton Duquesne (pronounced Du-Kane) meet with Penguin, who is the third party in their arms consortium. Penguin wants to know how Batwoman found out about the shipment, saying that their international buyers will want their money back if they don’t deliver the guns. He tasks Duquesne, who was brought on as their “muscle”, to deal with Batwoman. Later that day, Duquesne is on the phone with his men telling them to find out who Batwoman is and deal with her when his daughter Kathy comes home from shopping and he chastises her for leaving without telling him where she was going, then continues his phone call. Meanwhile, Bruce is also trying to figure out who Batwoman could be and as the news reports discuss the new vigilante, Barbara Gordon calls Bruce and jealously asks if he had replaced her but Bruce quickly makes an excuse to leave before hanging up the phone. Later, Bruce is attending a meeting where one of his researchers, Roxanne “Rocky” Ballantine, is showing a programmable and adaptable metal that she invented. Bruce takes Rocky out to dinner to discuss the metal and it’s applications further when they see the Batsignal in the sky and Bruce cuts the dinner short. On top of police headquarters, Batman finds Gordon, Detective Harvey Bullock, and his new partner Sonia Alcana waiting for him with some of the remains from the destroyed arms shipment. As they discuss the weapons, Bullock says the driver isn’t talking but Batman grabs the keys that he is tossing in the air and stares at them, then hands them back and tells Gordon he will be in touch before leaving. Later, Batman and Robin head to the shop that Penguin, Thorne, and Duquesne own and as they approach the building, they hear a muffled explosion coming from within. Inside the building, Batwoman is dealing with some of the crooks guarding the place when Batman and Robin drop in and help her. As they are fighting, Batwoman warns them about the charge she placed in the lower level where the arms are being made and they quickly leave before the building explodes. Batwoman explains about the weapons being made and goes to leave when Batman tries to stop her but she quickly attacks him in order to get away on her glider. Batman uses a grapple to snag the glider and follow after her but she uses a batarang to cut the line. Batman uses another grapple to keep from falling and, using some binoculars, sees Batwoman heading towards Duquesne’s penthouse. When Batman gets there, he hears Duquesne yelling on the phone after hearing about what happened at the plant and when Batman has a confrontation with his bodyguards, he yells at him to get away from his home and family, as Kathy looks down from her window. Bruce, suspecting Kathy of being Batwoman, decides to follow her as she goes shopping and then decides to get a closer look. As he is keeping tabs on her, Kathy manages to slip away form her bodyguards, then asks Bruce to help her get out of the store. Bruce does so and they manage to drive off in her car and Kathy takes her to her favorite spot; a place on the cliffs that she used to go to with her mom before she was killed. Bruce ends up getting close to Kathy and they start to kiss when her bodyguards show up and she reluctantly heads off with them. Later that night, Batman meets with Gordon, Bullock, and Sonia and tells them he suspects Kathy Duquesne of being the Batwoman, and Gordon says that he will put a tail on her. Meanwhile, Penguin and Thorne are discussing Duquesne’s inability to protect the shipment and Penguin decides to bring in someone else to stop Batwoman. When they discover Batwoman in Penguin’s office, she is able to get away and Thorne agrees to Penguin’s plan. Later the next day, Bruce is at the office talking with Rocky when Kathy shows up, inviting him to dinner and Bruce accepts, knowing that the police will be watching them. They end up heading to Penguin’s lounge and Bruce asks her what she is playing at, causing Kathy to walk off. Meanwhile, Batwoman confronts Penguin in his office but his bodyguards show up and begin fighting with her. As Penguin joins the fight, Batman shows up to save her but as Batwoman gets away, Batman notices Kathy watching from the crowd. As Bruce takes Kathy home that night, she apologizes for the evening and he apologizes for misjudging her but the bodyguards interrupt them before they can kiss. Later, Batman meets with Sonia and hands her a fragment of the alloy Batwoman used to restrain Penguin and as he goes to leave, she comments that he had saved her life once when her parent’s building caught fire and Batman says he remembers the men being linked to Thorne but nobody could prove it. Penguin, Thorne, and Duquesne meet with Bane, who Penguin had brought in to deal with Batwoman and Bane tells them he wants complete control to deal with Batwoman as he sees fit, unaware that Batwoman had snuck in and was listening to their plan. Back at the Batcave, Batman is trying to figure out who really is Batwoman, as both Kathy and Rocky have alibis for when she had appeared. Having Robin try to find any connection between the two, Batman heads to Duquesne’s place to see if he can find some information and finds the connection in Kathy’s sketchbook. Meanwhile, Batwoman returns to her lair and it is revealed that Kathy and Rocky were both Batwoman, as well as Sonia, as all three had reasons to take down the three crime bosses. Sonia explains what the criminals are planning and Kathy goes to blow up the ship smuggling the weapons but ends up getting caught by Bane. As Sonia watches from the police HQ roof, Batman confronts her about the connection between her, Kathy, and Rocky, and asks where Kathy is, just as Rocky contacts her and says she can’t reach Kathy. On the ship, Bane had contacted Penguin and when he, Thorne, and Duquesne arrive on the ship, Bane reveals Batwoman to be Kathy, which shocks her father. Penguin says he knows that she isn’t working alone and moves to torture her and when Duquesne tries to stop him, Bane grabs him and threatens to break his neck. Batman shows up and stops Bane, then rescues Kathy but as they are making their way off the ship, she sets the bomb, intending on making sure things end there. Bane captures Duquesne and uses him as bait to trap Batman and Kathy so he can kill them. Meanwhile, Penguin and Thorne attempt to escape but Sonia and Rocky show up to try and stop them just as the bomb goes off. Sonia and Rocky are knocked from the gliders and Sonia is knocked out but Rocky manages to keep her afloat only to see Penguin and Thorne bearing down on them. Robin, in the Batboat, saves them and as he helps Sonia onto the boat, Rocky goes after Penguin and Thorne and manages to stop them. Back on the ship, Kathy was thrown off the top decks of the ship and as she is suspended over the burning lower decks, Duquesne saves her and they make their way off the ship. Meanwhile, Bane and Batman continue fighting, with Bane using his Venom supplies to increase his strength. Batman uses Rocky’s restraining alloy to try and stop him and succeeds in severing the tubes for the venom. Bane is able to break free from the alloy but Batman, seeing the ship about to crash into the bridge, uses his grapple to climb up the underside of the bridge away from the ship as the ship hits the bridge, destroying the top portions of the ship and sending Bane falling into the fires below. Sonia, having recovered, uses her glider to fly up and rescue Batman, then drops him off on the police boat, revealing to Gordon and Bullock that she is Batwoman. Some time later, Sonia is shown to have been fired from the police force, as Gordon can condone vigilantism but can’t employ one. Batman stops by as she is cleaning out her desk and gives her the evidence that Rocky needs to free her fiance Kevin, who was framed by the Penguin for a crime. Later, Rocky and Kathy are talking outside the prison, as Kathy was there to visit her father while Rocky is waiting for Kevin to be released. As Rocky hugs Kevin, Kathy leaves them only to find Bruce waiting for outside. When she asks why he is there, Bruce, who had grown to have feelings for her, says that he missed her and the excitement her life provided and the two drive off together.
This was a pretty good movie and of the three early standalone Batman movies, I would probably place this in the middle as far as which one I liked best. The voice acting was pretty good and the cast from the show that returned to reprise their characters did a good job. The story was pretty interesting and I loved the somewhat Hitchcock motif involved with the identity of the Batwoman. The misdirection involved really felt inspired by Strangers On A Train, where each woman had their own reason for working together on taking out the crime bosses, and were constantly switching which one was wearing the costume so that it would throw suspicion off of the others. The animation mirrored that found in the later episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, which was ok but I felt wasn’t as good as the original animation style and design. It’s a solid animated movie and one that is well worth giving a watch if you get the chance.
Rating: 4 out of 5