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Armed with a lethal neurotoxin, a mysterious assailant is targeting the kingpins of Gotham’s criminal underground. As Batman and Robin are drawn deeper into an investigation that ensnares more and more of the rogues’ gallery, a disturbing revelation about the identity of the attacker begins to take shape.
“Batman: Death Wish” features the direction of Matthew Hiscox (“Army of Two: The 40th Day” – an award-winning fan film featured on G4, “Blunt Trauma”) and the cinematography and original score of Andrew Ceperley (“Lost Tales from Camp Blood,” Lake Death). It was written by Jennifer Zhang (“Street Fighter High,” Dead Inside).
“Batman: Death Wish” was written to be a compelling and fast-paced detective story. While recent Batman fan films have placed greater emphasis on his skills in combat to varying degrees of success, we wanted our story to specifically showcase the Dark Knight’s unmatched investigative prowess. “Death Wish” represents, primarily, our efforts to spotlight Batman as the world’s greatest detective; it’s what we loved about the Animated Series incarnation of Batman, and it’s what sets him apart from most other superheroes whose greatest assets are their physical advantages.
From the beginning, we knew that we would have access to a phenomenal crew, great costumes, and a large and talented cast. Capitalizing on these resources, the story of “Batman: Death Wish” was written in such a way as to put Batman and Robin in contact with as many recognizable villains as possible through the course of their investigation.
Stylistically, Batman: Death Wish was conceived of as a blend of the Batman portrayals we grew up with, across several mediums. For the
filmmakers – for better or for worse – the Schumacher films represented the Batman of our childhoods. And so this was the iteration of Batman we turned to most heavily for visual inspiration.
In line with our hopes to capture something nostalgic in our fan film, “Batman: The Animated Series” inspired some of the writing, in that the banter is light-hearted and the story is focused on a single case that Batman must crack. But stylistically, translating the Animated Series into real life wasn’t plausible, especially not on a limited budget. The Schumacher films provided a blueprint for what could be done in real life. But the general consensus is that they took an overly tacky approach to Batman: the bright neons, the over-the-top villains. A goal of ours was to avoid making these mistakes in “Death Wish,” while preserving what was near and dear to our hearts about the Schumacher films – that they strove to reflect the feel of the comic books of that era.
We love Christopher Nolan’s gritty portrayal of Batman’s world, and understand why it's relevant and topical. But it’s all but banished something special about the comic book heroes of the ‘90s: an emphasis on the “super” part of a “superhero” in favor of a more realistic depiction of an above-ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. Movies are supposed to be about escapism. So while Nolan’s movies make a wonderful real-world story, “Death Wish” was never meant to capture what was strictly real.
Picking and choosing how to use our resources, we determined that a blend of the 90’s comics, “The Animated Series”, and the Schumacher films would be a great starting point for establishing the style and tone of our Gotham. Admittedly, some people will find it a bit cheesy and perhaps a little dated, but we’re proud of our concerted efforts, and hope viewers can enjoy the results.
The entire film was shot by a crew of three, on a single camera across four 10-14 hour nights and six locations. Director Matthew Hiscox, writer Jennifer Zhang, and co-producer and crewmember Joey Rassool combined their efforts to form the production team.
Though two female roles were cast from a wonderful crop of candidates through extensive auditions, most of the other characters were portrayed by members of the Los Angeles-based cosplay group known as the GC5. Over the years, the GC5 have portrayed characters from the Batman universe at Six Flags Magic Mountain and have been invited to make special appearances at numerous comic book stores and conventions.
Martial artist Will Magno Alejandrino generously lent his services to the production, choreographing and coordinating all of the fight sequences in "Death Wish." His work can be seen in feature films, as well as across many episodes of the popular “There Will Be Brawl” web series. We were fortunate to have had the ranks of the Joker’s, Riddler’s and Scarecrow’s henchmen filled by dear friends, along with staff members from Nerd Reactor. Their bodies were violently punched and kicked around, and littered the crime scenes in “Batman: Death Wish.” We’re eternally grateful to have had them on our team.
The Batsuits and Catsuit featured in “Batman: Death Wish” are the work of Matthew Hiscox and Chris Robinson of CriMaFX, and the costuming studio Cos and FX. The costumes for female cast members were the creation of Abby Polakow of Certain Clouds, while Joey Rassool provided the costumes for the Riddler and Scarecrow.
“Batman: Death Wish” is, in every sense of the word, a passion project. It was produced on a shoestring budget, with every dollar going towards what you see on screen in the final product. Everyone involved -- from cast to crew – volunteered his or her time, services and talents tirelessly without compensation, and in many cases, while also juggling a full time job and familial obligations.
It’s our sincere hope that viewers will enjoy this film, which represents a humble homage to the greatest comic book hero ever created.
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“Batman” and all characters portrayed in this film are © and TM of DC Comics, a Time Warner Company. The filmmakers do not claim rights to any images or likenesses of characters portrayed in this film. “Batman: Death Wish” is a not-for-profit production, created for promotional purposes only.