Batman Ninja, the upcoming animated film coming from Warner Bros. Japan and directed by JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s Jumpei Mizusaki, is a simple enough idea to wrap your mind around: Batman and co. are flung back through time to medieval Japan. But the few seconds of footage screened today at New York Comic Con showed that the story writer Kazuki Nakashima (Kamen Rider Fourze) and character designer Takashi Okazaki (Afro Samurai) have crafted is unlike any Batman story we’ve ever seen. Though the movie isn’t quite done yet ahead of its 2018 release, it’s already one of the most visually daring and astonishing Batman stories Warner Bros. has ever produced.
Picture Batman, decked out in shogun’s armor and wielding a katana, charging at the Joker, who’s also brandishing a sword, but draped in a fanciful, ancient Japanese courtier’s outfit that’s overflowing with tattered ruffles that bounce along with his maniacal laugh.
On a tiled roof, the pair crash and slash at one another in a dizzying flow of gorgeous swordsmanship and the Joker taunts Batman that, even in this unfamiliar time and place, he’s still every bit the bloodthirsty killer he was in Gotham. The scene jumps to a quick montage of fight scenes and we see that it isn’t just Batman and the Joker who have been displaced. Nightwing, one of the Robins, Harley Quinn, Penguin, and Gorilla Grodd are there as well, and they all look like avant-garde, high-fashion, concept-art versions of themselves.
Harley takes on a group of enemies with an impossibly large mallet on what looks like a boat, and her fighting style here is less focused on just smashing things to smithereens and more about gracefully confusing the hell out of anyone silly enough to take her on. The animation style is an interesting blend of traditional 2D and subtle hints of CGI that give certain elements of the film—like the Joker’s hair—a dreamy, eerie weightlessness.
Just when you think things can’t get anymore fantastically off-kilter, the Batmobile revs onto the screen, crashing through the scenery and wreaking all kinds of mayhem before the teaser cuts to black.. While DC and Warner Bros. have yet to post footage of Batman Ninja online yet, here’s a look at NYCC’s exclusive promotional poster for the film:
Batman Ninja will be out on DVD and Blu-Ray in 2018.