Batman: Bad Blood Review
Source Material: Battle for the Cowl (2011), Batman, Inc (2012)
Original Creative Team: Tony Daniel (writer/artist); Grant Morrison (writer), Chris Burnham (artist)
Movie Creative Team: Directed by Jay Oliva (animated The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Under the Red Hood, much more)
Notable Voice Actors: Jason O’Mara (Batman), Sean Maher (Nightwing), Yvonne Strahovski (Batwoman), Morena Baccarin (Talia al Ghul), Ernie Hudson (Lucius Fox)
It’s no secret that DC loves their Batman. Pretty much every solo DC Animated Universe film has been very Batman-oriented, so it’s about time that a movie came out that focused on the Bat familia. That’s kind of what we get here in Batman: Bad Blood, a conglomeration of stories that somehow tells a cohesive story that really is nothing like the sum of its inspirations – for better or worse. In a way, the DC Animated films have become just as formulaic as the live-action movies have. The craft is getting better, but it’s feeling less and less like a new and exciting story. Here’s out breakdown:
Batwoman: By far, Batwoman was the best part about this film. She was raw, unpolished, and it was clearly evident that she could kick ass, but that Batman was still on a whole other level than her. She was jaded, but had enough sass up her sleeve to out-duel Damian in a battle of the mouths. What’s better is that they didn’t shy away from her sexuality. As one of DC’s most notable gay character, it was nice to see her character handled naturally, and not by awkwardly blurting out “I’M GAY! IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL!” like so many “progressive” after-school specials like to do.
Damian + Dick: While their partnership in the comics lasted just a short while, there was something incredible about seeing the big brother-little brother relationship take shape. They talk crap to each other, and are constantly trying to one-up the other, but still look out for each other and end up being pretty cool. We get a tiny glimpse of that in Bad Blood, but it’s enough to make you appreciate the dynamic.
Creative Bastardization: Most of the animated films that aren’t based off of one specific graphic novel usually come as some combination of storylines, and Batman: Bad Blood is no different. Here, we combine the “death of Batman” from Final Crisis, the end of the world aspect of Batman, Inc., and Dick’s hesitant call to take up the mantle in Battle for the Cowl and Batman & Robin, even the Heretic kind of carries himself like Bane did in The Dark Knight Rises. While each of these stories is, in my mind, worthy of it’s own animated adaptation (especially Batman, Inc.), the aspects taken from each help fulfill the story as a whole.
Voice Acting: I love Firefly. Therefore, I love Sean Maher. However… I do not love Sean Maher as Nightwing. The 40 year old actor’s voice does not fit the spry, jubilant Dick Grayson. It’s not bad, but the more you hear it, the more you realize that it doesn’t work. He’s not half as bad as James Garrett’s Alfred, though. Garrett, who voiced Alfred in the Brave and the Bold series just 5 years ago, seems like he’s aged a millennia.
Crappy Villains: I’m all for using diverse or lesser-known bad guys in a film like this, but damn, they picked the sorriest bunch of idiots that DC has to offer. Electrocutioner? Firefly? Fine. Tusk? Hellhound? The Calculator? Get outta here. DC could do better than that. Here are five lesser-known Bat-villains that could shake up the ranks and actually matter: KGBeast, Catman, Captain Boomerang, Copperhead… the list goes on.
Animation: This was really a step back as far as animation goes. The backgrounds in almost every scene are completely static, looking like something out of the early 90’s Spider-Man series as opposed to a seasoned animation studio. And then we can get into the lazy animation techniques, like having just the lips move instead of the whole head. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s 2016, and people notice. That being said, I do like the variation in animation styles – once used to show the city skyline, and again to show the glossy texture of the vehicles.
Sloppy storytelling: I get that mashing several stories together to make an hour-long video is tough, but there are so many moments that made me question whether the story was written by an established comic book writer (it was). Nightwing’s bitterness towards Batman is so unbecoming; it just felt out of character. Or when Lucius Fox gets caught on his spy computer… his TRANSPARENT super spy computer. The biggest “bullshit” moment is the thought that Talia al Ghul, daughter of the Demon, thought it appropriate to hook up with The Mad Hatter, one of the most laughable villains in the Batman rogue’s gallery. Give me a break. Again, overall solid plot, but there are too many shortcuts taken to really keep me engaged.
Easter Egg Screencaps:
Batwing Iron Man montage:
Cameron Stewart/Babs Tarr’s Batgirl:
|Plot||A good blend of stories is surprisingly cohesive.||8/10|
|Voice-acting||Crappy Nightwing and Alfred spoil an otherwise solid cast.||7/10|
|Representation of Source Material||Some of the pairings are silly, but for the most part, Heretic and Batwoman are done justice.||9/10|
|Animation||Very hit or miss.||6/10|
|Sound Effects and Music||Solid music, as always.||8/10|
|Captivity||Never felt bored, but didn’t feel overly-enthralled, either.||7/10|
|Overall awesomeness||Fun watch, good intro to Batwing and Batwoman. Lots of Easter Eggs and fanboy rewards||7/10|
|Creativity||A unique amalgamation of several pivotal moments in Batman lore.||8/10|
|Replayability||Worth a second watch, but nothing to rave about.||6/10|
|Special Features||It’s nothing you can’t find out by reading a Wikipedia page.||5/10|
IF YOU LIKED THIS, CHECK THESE OUT:
Batman and Robin was one of the best series DC had leading up to the New52 and focused on the Damian + Dick dynamic.
Batman, Inc. is a short run with an explosive storyline. Here, you’ll learn more about Leviathon and the Heretic.