Holy Home Video, Batman!

Following a successful return to the big screen, the Dark Knight is blitzing home video today with a slate of releases sure to make any fan’s DVD collection darn near complete. In addition to the debut of the latest live-action installment, Batman Begins, we get the all-new animated feature, The Batman Vs. Dracula, as well as Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology, featuring all four of the films from the franchise started by Tim Burton in 1989, and the early serials from 1949.

Directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia), Batman Begins stars Christian Bale (Equilibrium, American Psycho) as Bruce Wayne and his cowled alter-ego in a story that explores the origins of the Batman legend and his emergence as a force for good in Gotham. The cast also includes Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), Katie Holmes (The Gift), Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later), Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai), Liam Neeson (Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace), Michael Caine (Alfie), Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby), Rutger Hauer (The Hitcher) and Tom Wilkinson (In The Bedroom).

The film is available in two versions; a single-disc release containing only the movie for $28.98 and a two-disc deluxe edition with all the bonus materials for $30.97. The deluxe set comes packaged with Detective Comics #37, a 72-page comic book featuring the very first Batman story, Batman: The Man Who Falls, as well as Batman: The Long Halloween, a chilling excerpt that also inspired the new film.

The DVD menu is presented as an interactive comic book that grants access to such special features as the making-of documentaries Genesis of the Bat: Batman Incarnations from the Mid-1980s to the Present; The Journey Begins: Creative Concepts, Story Development and Casting; Shaping Mind and Body: Fighting Style; Gotham City Rises: Production Design; Cape and Cowl: The New Batsuit; The Tumbler: The New Batmobile; Path to Discovery: Filming in Iceland; and Saving Gotham City: The Monorail Chase Sequence. Other extras will include a DVD ROM Batman Begins mobile game demo, Easter eggs, a photo gallery and a character/weaponry gallery.

Also from Warner Home Video comes The Batman vs. Dracula, a new direct-to-video animated feature that has our hero taking on not only arch enemies The Penguin and The Joker, but also the original bat-man himself, Count Dracula. Bonus materials include the featurette Science vs. Superstition, in which Batman’s computer sheds some light on the legend of Dracula and the rumors surrounding the historical figure. There’s also an interactive map of Gotham that unlocks video clips on the making of the film, as well as interviews with the voice cast, deleted scenes and a "Batman vs. Superman" excerpt from the animated TV series, The Batman. Fans can pik it up for the suggested price of $19.95.

Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997 is a gift set that includes Burton’s original theatrical release, Batman, and its sequels, Batman Returns, Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. Each film is a two-disc edition loaded with behind-the-scenes extras such as commentary by filmmakers Burton and Joel Schumacher, making-of featurettes and in-depth looks at everything from music to costuming and production design. All four movies are packaged together for the suggested retail price of $79.92. Each special edition is also available separately for around $26.99 from Warner Home Video.

For some old-school bat action, pick up The Batman: The 1943 Serial Collection. All 15 episodes of the cliffhanger serial come to disc for the first time ever with this two-disc set from Sony. Lewis Wilson plays Bruce Wayne/Batman and Douglas Croft is Dick Grayson/Robin in these early Saturday matinee adventures that have the dynamic duo fighting to protect Gotham City from the evil schemes of Dr. Tito Daka (J. Carrol Naish). The set lists for $29.95.

For more DC Comics superhero action, check out Warner’s five-disc release of The Adventures of Superman: The Complete First Season. All 26 episodes of the classic 1950s TV series starring George Reeves are packaged with the 1951 movie Superman and the Mole People, a vintage George Reeves short a retrospective titled From Inkwell to Backlot, commentaries and original Kellogg’s cereal TV spots. It lists for $39.98.