First Impression: Batman Unburied
Batman Unburied is the first of a deal between Warner Bros and Spotify, spanning multiple years. With Marvel having already dipped their toes into the audio drama podcast form of entertainment, Warner Bros wants a piece of that pie. Though I have the podcast featuring Wolverine that Marvel initially teamed up with Stitcher for in my Spotify library, I have yet to hit the play button. However, I have listened to Neil Gaiman's The Sandman audio drama, which was fantastic. What garnered some attention for Batman Unburied is that Winston Duke was cast as Bruce Wayne and the Dark Knight himself.
The first two episodes were released on May 3rd, and like many others, I was intrigued. Now that I have listened to it, I felt it was only fitting to share my thoughts with the Infinity Bros Universe because this whole operation is based around a podcast. If you're a listener of the show, you're familiar with Winston Duke's role as M'Baku in Black Panther. Although, that isn't the only star we have lending a voice to characters we know. Lance Reddick plays the role of Thomas Wayne, and Ashley Burch of Horizon: Zero Dawn and Borderlands fame plays Vicki Vale. The list features Gina Rodriguez, Sam Witwer, John Rys-Davies, and Jason Isaacs. Helming this audio drama is David S. Goyer, and though his biggest claim to fame is likely writing the Dark Knight trilogy, he has done so much more. With so many big names attached to this project, I had little reason to avoid hitting the play button.
The first two of ten episodes are out as of May 3rd, and the following eight will release weekly. The series brings a spin on everything we know about Batman and the world around him. Bruce Wayne is a forensic pathologist at Gotham Hospital, and his parents are still alive. The two available episodes set the stage for a mystery but still leave many important questions. Such as: is he even Batman at this point? Then, the second episode has me thinking that this interpretation may somehow still be connected with aspects of the version of Bruce Wayne we do know. I was too busy trying to figure out where Bruce could be at in his career as the caped crusader, but it's almost as if that final minute of episode 2 aims to tell its listeners that we are asking the wrong questions.
The performances are the highlight here, being the form of media. Sam Witwer's performance mainly stuck out to me because I didn't realize it was him in the role who seems to be the main villain of the series so far. Star Wars fans may be the most familiar with his work as Darth Maul in Clone Wars, Rebels, and Solo. Gamers will too know him from Star Wars: Force Unleashed as Starkiller and Days Gone's Deacon Saint John. I shouldn't be surprised, as most of what he does is voicework. Having voice actors such as Witwer, Burch, and Toks Olagundoye, who I failed to mention earlier in the mix, feels like a comfortable balance alongside other actors that may be less familiar with this kind of acting.
I want to touch on the change in the race of the Wayne family because I feel like that may be important to some people. In short: I don't think it matters. This is a very different Bruce Wayne with a different backstory that I have already hinted at. Unburied's Bruce also seems to have other internal demons that he is battling. He may have completely different motivations to dawn the cape and cowl if he has already done so at a previous time before this particular story begins. Winston Duke doesn't have to make Bruce Wayne his own, as the writing has already made that decision for him. At this point, he may as well be playing a different character, which is a good thing. Bruce's relationship with his father seems to be very crucial to the story, and I look forward to hearing more interactions between them, with Duke and Reddick in those roles.
The last thing I want to bring attention to is how this show captures the atmosphere of Gotham. The sound effects immensely helped in immersing me in the setting, by using things like rain and the hustle and bustle of the city. I especially love the occasional callback to radio dramas of old when the episodes pivot to short segments of a fictional radio show. These sections of the podcast episodes make the city of Gotham feel like a character itself, as they capture the pulse of how Gotham's people are feeling about current events. I can't wait to see how this chunk of the show is further expanded upon with future episodes.
As I listened to Batman Unburied, I wondered whether I was even enjoying it. As I kept writing, I found myself impressed and interested in seeing where the story goes. The changes made to the Batman lore that we know and love are welcome, and I want to see bold moves like this made more often. I wasn't sure if I would continue to listen to the show when I first hit play, but I'm curious to see how this story moves forward. At around 30 minutes an episode, that feels like a good length for me to encourage you to check it out for yourself if you have a Spotify account; I'd love to know what others think about these first two episodes.
If this is your first time reading The Daily Snap, the Infinity Bros rate things on a 1-6 point scale. Thus far, my initial impressions of Batman Unburied are a 4 out of 6 Infinity Stones because I still have many questions that need to be answered and remain unsure about how this story will land.
LJ Lowery is a fellow podcaster, comic book lover, and overall nerd, and writes reviews for Geeks Under Grace. Check out more of his articles on The Daily Snap as well!