Admittedly, direct-to-DVD animated superhero movies may not seem as glamorous as their mainstream theatrical counterparts. However, while the DCEU’s latest BATMAN film remains in limbo, several Batman animated films are coming out this year that are more ambitious than you’d expect.

So, if you’re a fan of Batman, animated movies, or just the DC universe in general, there’s more than just live-action movies. Don’t miss out on these three animated films in 2018.

BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT

Animated Films Gotham By Gaslight
Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Animation

GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT is the third DC animated film to be rated R, which makes sense since the core premise of the movie is Batman taking on Jack the Ripper. Granted, going off his entire publication history, Batman’s been in trickier situations.

The caped crusader has matched wits with the likes of Alien, Predator, and Superman; but Batman vs. Jack the Ripper does have a certain allure to it. GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT is an adaptation of a 1998 graphic novel that takes place in 19th-century Gotham. Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy, did the art, with Brian Augustyn as the writer.

Animated Films Gotham by Gaslight comic

What’s particularly interesting about the comic is that it’s the first official “Elseworlds” title. “Elseworlds” refers to a DC line of comics centered on alternate universe style scenarios. For example, CATWOMAN: PROTECTOR OF GOTHAM pitted Selina Kyle against an evil version of Batman. If GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT does well, this could lead to more Elseworlds titles getting their own adaptations. Classics like KINGDOM COME and SUPERMAN: RED SON could finally be making their way to the screen.

Of course, the main appeal of GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT lies in its R-rating. The film promises to be a grim, no holds barred murder mystery with Batman at the center of it. According to promotional materials, the film will even feature twists that will surprise those that have read the original novel. Will deviating from the source material work out for the film? If you want to know what happens, GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT comes out on January 23rd.

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BATMAN NINJA

Animated Films Batman Ninja

For whatever reason, Batman time travels to feudal Japan, and the Joker has apparently taken over the Shogunate. While this might sound like one of those aforementioned “Elseworlds” stories, it isn’t. BATMAN NINJA is an entirely new story told through the relatively new medium of CGI cel-shaded anime.

Frankly, the main appeal of BATMAN NINJA is the track record of the people working on it. The character designer is Takashi Okazaki, the creator of AFRO SAMURAI. The director, Junpei Mizusaki, worked on Studio David’s adaptation of JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE.

The screenplay writer, Kazuki Nakashima, was the head writer behind Studio Trigger’s KILL LA KILL. Now, as someone who’s seen all of those shows, I must admit that I’m not sure KILL LA KILL’s writing was one of its strong points. Then again, KILL LA KILL’s premise is based on blood-fueled superpowered skimpy outfits. So, you know, take it as you will.

Still, that’s a pretty exciting group of people to have onboard for a Batman anime. Based on the previews alone, BATMAN NINJA already looks like a lot of fun. Characters like Gorilla Grodd and Deathstroke have already made appearances in the trailers and the poster up above. If nothing else, the visuals for this project are absolutely stunning.

http://media.comicbook.com/2017/12/batman-ninja-joker-1062444-1280x0.png

No official release date has come out yet, but BATMAN NINJA is slated to premiere sometime in 2018.

SCOOBY DOO & BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD

Animated Films Scooby Doo Batman The Brave and the Bold
Image Courtesy of Warner Bros. Animation

I know that direct to DVD Scooby Doo films aren’t exactly anyone’s first choice (though I have heard good things about SCOOBY DOO MEETS KISS). But this isn’t your usual Scooby Doo and Batman crossover. This is a Scooby Doo and BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD crossover.

For those of you who don’t know, BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD was an animated series which aired on Cartoon Network from 2008 to 2011. The show was an unabashed tribute to Silver age comics, featuring over the top situations, goofy one-liners, and a surprising emphasis on obscure characters like the Metal Men and Detective Chimp.

batman animated film batman and detective chimp comic

The series’ tongue-in-cheek campiness did go a bit too far at times though. In one episode, Black Canary, Huntress, and Catwoman put on a musical number about how all the male superheroes were sexually inferior to Batman. Maybe that’s what kids were into, but I always thought that was a bit awkward. I suppose that does bring up the possibility of Daphne and Velma singing a ditty about how much they want to bang the Caped Crusader. I’m not sure that’d be a good idea, but it would be interesting in a trainwreck kind of way.

Anyways, based on the trailer, the movie seems to be a full-on return to the BRAVE AND THE BOLD universe. Batman may be the only superhero in the title, but characters ranging from Aquaman to The Question will be joining the team-up. It’ll be fun to see how the Mystery Gang fits in when faced with a Justice League-scale situation. SCOOBY-DOO! & BATMAN THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD is the first to come out this year and will be released on January 9th.

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OTHER ANIMATED FILMS

The Batman franchise has always been varied in its approach. You’ve got Adam West acting like a cartoon character, Christian Bale putting on a death metal growl in a gritty, realistic version of Gotham, Michael Keaton blowing up circus clowns with dynamite, Ben Affleck branding a sex trafficker, and so on. My point is, in comparison to other big name superheroes, Batman has always been the most open to experimentation. So it’s nice to see that the DC animated films coming out this year are continuing that trend.

Outside of Batman, there are some pretty exciting superhero-related animation projects coming out this year. On the theatrical side of things, THE INCREDIBLES 2 is coming out in June and SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE will be premiering in December.

There are other direct to DVD films coming out as well. DC has announced their plans for an all-new Suicide Squad film and a brand new adaptation of THE DEATH AND RETURN OF SUPERMAN storyline. Both projects are still being kept under wraps, but it has been announced that they will premiere in 2018.

Speaking of vague but exciting news, Marvel has announced a new line of animated films currently referred to as MARVEL RISING. MARVEL RISING: SECRET WARRIORS is the first of these films. It will star fan-favorite characters like Spider-Gwen, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Kahn), America Chavez, and Squirrel Girl.

Animated Films Marvel Rising
Image courtesy of Marvel Animation

Outside of the cast roster, there’s not that much information out there, but the movie is supposed to come out sometime in 2018.

This Is Everything You Need to Know About 2018 Comic Book Movies and TV Shows Coming Out

As far as superhero animated films go, I think that’s about it. They may be outside of the MCU/DCEU, but they are definitely worth looking out for.

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