Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight Movie Poster Image
Violence, some sex in Victorian-era Batman tale.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 78 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. 

Violence

Characters walking down the street in the dark are stabbed to death by a mysterious killer. A doctor working in an insane asylum is killed by his patients -- he falls into a pit where they are kept and they attack him. Character burns to death. A letter from the mystery killer talks of "cutting whores." Gunshots. Street urchins pull knives on an elderly couple in an attempt to mug them. 

Sex

Bruce Wayne eludes the authorities by hiding in a coach, removing his clothes, and pretending to be having sex with Selina Kyle. Striptease scene at a burlesque show -- no nudity, some lewd comments. 

Language

Young boy says "s--t." "Damn," "asses," "hell." 

Consumerism

Characters from comic books, also sold and marketed as action figures, clothing, and other merchandise. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Harvey Dent acts drunk while walking with Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. Wine drinking, alcohol drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Batman: Gotham By Gaslight is a 2018 movie placing Batman in the Victorian era trying to find a Jack the Ripper-style killer. There are scenes in which characters are pursued by the knife-wielding killer, heard getting stabbed to death. The killer writes a letter to the Commissioner talking of why he is "cutting whores." A doctor is killed in an insane asylum after falling into a pit where the mentally ill are kept. A character burns to death. In order to elude the authorities, Bruce Wayne hides in a coach, removes his Batman outfit; he's found naked by a police officer as Wayne pretends to be having sex with Selina Kyle. There's some drinking, including one of the lead characters acting drunk. A street urchin says "s--t" upon seeing Batman. Viewers also see a striptease scene at a burlesque show, with no nudity but some lewd comments. 

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What's the story?

It's the late 19th century in Gotham City, and Batman (Bruce Greenwood) is attempting to find out who is behind the stabbing deaths of prostitutes and other denizens of the night in GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT. He's a vigilante as feared by everyone then as he is in more recent times; some even suspect Batman as the murderer. Selina Kyle (Jennifer Carpenter), a stage actress and vigilante in her own right, attempts to lure the murderer and kill him, but her plans are accidentally foiled when Batman swoops in. Shortly after, Selina meets Bruce Wayne, and the two hit it off. But things take a turn for the worse when Wayne is spotted at the orphanage where he grew up on the night his beloved Sister Leslie is murdered. Now the police are in hot pursuit of Wayne, and he must now, with the help of Kyle, not only discover the murderer, but also prove his innocence.  

Is it any good?

This is a unique take on the Batman story. Set during the Victorian era, it places Batman/Bruce Wayne among the street urchins, burlesque dancers, moral reformers, and Jack the Ripper-style killers of the time. On the whole, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an interesting take on the now-familiar tale of the misunderstood vigilante and playboy philanthropist. The mystery behind the killer is a surprise, all things considered, and presents a unique take on the character's twisted motives for the murders.

At the same time, the "whodunit" of it all feels a little too much like a Scooby-Doo! episode, with a lot more adult content and far fewer clues to help the audience play along in solving the mystery. It doesn't quite strike the right balance between showing what these well-known characters would be like in a different time and telling the story itself. It's definitely enjoyable on its own terms for the novelty of the time and setting, but one would hope that if this is the direction the creators want to take the Batman franchise, they'll do more than simply plug in a half dozen or so historical reference points to give the movie authenticity. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Batman movie franchise. How does Gotham by Gaslight compare to other stories about Batman? 

  • How does the movie present what the 19th century would be like in Gotham? 

  • Was the violence too much, or was it necessary for the story? Why?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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