Almost Lovecraftian in the DCU

Almost Lovecraftian in the DCU March 22, 2024

Image: Wikipedia

Given what the DC world has done with Batman and the Joker’s relationship (reason and order vs the impulse to chaos), it makes sense that someone would attempt a crossover with the Lovecraft mythos. And in fact that has been done with The Doom that Came to Gotham, directed by Sam Liu (there’s also a graphic novel by Mike Mignola that I’ve not read–though I’ll be rectifying that in the new future).

And for what it’s worth, this is a pretty solid adaptation of both Lovecraft and Batman. It stumbles a bit at the end, but overall both sets of source material are faithfully respected and we’re presented a fairly decent narrative.

The plot is fairly simple (for a Batman/Lovecraft crossover, anyway). In the wake of his parents’ murder, Bruce Wayne travels the world with Alfred and three assistants, learning martial arts and various techniques of investigation and crime fighting. We gradually learn some of the backstory as the narrative progresses, specifically that young Bruce Wayne was confronted by bats, who warned him of a coming destruction. (I know, I know, but that’s the world the authors have to work with.) In his search for a way to prevent it, he follows Professor Cobblepot to Antarctica, where he finds a deserted camp and only a raving madman and Cobblepot’s journals left behind, both warning of said coming doom.

On his return to Gotham, Bruce takes up the mantle of the bat and launches his investigation, certain that there is a logical explanation behind it all. He is immediately approached by Etrigan the (rhyming and/or friendly) demon, who also warns him of a coming doom and blows his logical worldview to smithereens.

The rest of the movie is Batman trying to get a step ahead of those working to bring about said doom by opening a portal for the arrival of the Great Old Ones. [mild spoilers from here on out] As had been made clear by Etrigan, the only way to stop this is for Bruce Wayne to die and to become his true self, which is apparently a hybrid “Bat-man”, which can take on the hybrid human/elder creature trying to open the portal.

And if all that sounds weird, it’s a Lovecraft/Batman crossover. Of course it’s weird. Again, this is a solid effort overall. The interesting attempts to blend Lovecraft and Batman’s world together are clever and well done, and will be of interest to anyone who is a fan of both worlds. The end is really where they drop the ball, and largely for the same reasons other handlers of Lovecraft do as well. (Derleth being the main example here, who insisted on Christianizing Lovecraft’s world). We want 1) the good guys to win; 2) there to be some reason for it all; and 3) some kind of satisfaction at the end of the day. Lovecraft generally doesn’t give us those things, while Batman does. And in this case, Batman wins–again, largely drawing on mildly Christian themes. Bruce Wayne gives up his life to save the world, and does so by taking something of the monstrous on himself.

It would be interesting to see an expanded version of this narrative–where does Superman fit in? He’s another alien, after all–could he just punch Cthulhu in the face and save the world that way? What about the Green Lantern Corps, what might they have to say about the disorder introduced by the Elder gods? What about Wonder Woman and the Greek pantheon? Again, lots of opportunities to geek out here, and they did a good enough job with this movie that I’d love to see if there are ways this story line could be expanded.

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast an Amazon Associate (which is linked in this blog), and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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