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Batman: The Long Halloween (2021)—A Film Noir Detective Story

Based on the popular and iconic Batman comic book of the same name that inspired many Batman directors including Christopher Nolan, Batman: The Long Halloween is a two-part animated Batman film that centers on a Gotham City that is being secretly run by Carmine Falcone (voiced by Titus Welliver) of the Falcone crime family. When a mysterious assassin known as the “Holiday Killer” begins killing members of the Falcone crime family, and has his sights set on new district attorney Harvey Dent (voiced by Josh Duhamel), it’s up to Batman (voiced by Jensen Ackles) to unravel the identity of the enigmatic culprit.

This is one of the few Batman stories to really live up to Batman’s moniker of the “World’s Greatest Detective.” Normally, Batman is seen punching his way through a problem. And while that can be fun for some, it really limits the potential that Batman has as a character. What makes Batman remarkable is his ability to outthink the criminals he fights. Throughout the film, Batman learns that in order to protect Gotham, he has to also use his mind to become an exceptional detective, and not only bash criminals’ heads in. And what better way for Batman to do that than have him be a relatively green protector?

Jensen Ackles does a wonderful job as the Caped Crusader. This isn’t the first time he’s been in a Batman film, as he’s been in Batman: Under the Red Hood as Jason Todd. Ackles has great range as an actor, and it’s really amazing how he transcends his performance from Red Hood to Batman. In The Long Halloween, he perfectly portrayed both the charismatic Bruce Wayne and the dark and brooding Batman. Hell, he even does an amazing job disguising his voice; I couldn’t even tell it was Jensen Ackles who did the voice work for Batman!

The overall story does an amazing job at fully immersing the audience in the film. Normally, the audience is given a piece of information that the characters do not have, which allows them to piece together the answer to the mystery. However, The Long Halloween keeps the audience in the dark on who the Holiday Killer could be. We are given the same amount of clues that Batman, Gordon, and Dent are given, and as a result, we have to act like detectives in order to piece together the missing pieces of the puzzle ourselves. For example, initially, Batman thinks Joker could’ve been the culprit, which is later supported by Joker using the same type of firearm that the Holiday Killer uses. However, we later learn that Joker is actually trying to kill the Holiday Killer. Every lead that Batman and Gordon get only turn out to be a red herring to distract them from the real killer.

To complement the film’s exceptionally crafted story, the art style and animation has to be one of the most beautiful that Warner Media has produced! The film looks like a comic book and cartoon blended together, with the cityscape and backgrounds reminiscent of a comic book noir while the characters are traditionally 2-D animated. Additionally, the film has this grainy look to it, which further adds to the film’s noir tone. My favorite scenes would have to be the chase between Batman and Catwoman in part 1 and the horrific hallucination scenes involving Scarecrow in part 2.

One major takeaway from The Long Halloween was its focus on the duality of good and evil, which is presented with both Carmine Falcone and Harvey Dent. While Falcone is a criminal and mob boss leader, he still prioritizes family over everything else, something anyone can respect. His devotion to his family is very reminiscent of Michael Corleone from The Godfather, which shouldn’t be shocking, considering that Carmine Falcone was inspired by Corleone. Meanwhile, Dent is a decorated district attorney who fights for justice in a corrupt city, but at the same time, is dealing with his own demons which the Holiday Killer case only exacerbates, causing his downward spiral into his Two-Face persona.

All-in-all, Batman: The Long Halloween is a fantastic animated Batman film that excels in almost every single category including voice acting, animation, art style, music and storytelling. One look at the film, and it’s no wonder why so many filmmakers use it as a source of inspiration for their Batman films. Many of the shots, characters, and even plot elements from The Long Halloween can be recognized in Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy such as the partnership among Batman, Gordon and Dent, the characters Carmine Falcone and Salvatore Maroni, and even a focus on Bruce Wayne as a detective. With Matt Reeves’ upcoming film The Batman to be released on March 4th, 2022 which centers on a younger and more detective-focused Dark Knight, it goes to show how much influence The Long Halloween has and will continue to have on the legacy of Batman!

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