Following the story-lines presented in Son of Batman and Batman Vs. Robin, Batman: Bad Blood is DC Animation’s newest Batman story; if you can really call it that.
The Jay Oliva (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Parts I & II) directed film wastes no time getting started. We find Batwoman (Yavonne Stahovski) and Batman (Jason O’Mara) fighting against a new villain calling himself the Heretic (Travis Willingham) and looking like a scary Batman/Bane concoction. The heretic (who we’re pretty sure didn’t just name himself after an Exorcist sequel) hints that he knows bats more than anyone else ever has; then proceeds to blow up the building and leave them both for dead. Batman manages to save Batwoman but not himself, so it seems. He’s gone missing and Damian (Stuart Allen), along with Nightwing (Sean Maher) are once again brought together in an attempt to find him, with Nightwing bearing the cape and cowl for most of the film. What follows is a journey into the twisted past of Damian, the birth of yet another bat family character in Batwing (Gaius Charles) and a Batman who’s had his brain toyed with; leading to some riveting altercations.
DC Animation fans have been divided at times when it comes to the new Batman films as Damian seems to be a controversial, if not disliked character by many. Whether it’s his sometimes bratty demeanor or the fact that in his two previous films he’s held his own as a 10-14 year old boy with the likes of Slade Wilson and Batman himself. (an egregious overflow of ability, even for a kid raised by R’as al Ghul) Still yet, when you look past his many issues and angry demeanor he’s much like Batman himself. Extremely confident and standoffish with an unmatched competitive streak and painful past. Bad Blood won’t be the ticket away from Damian’s story as many fans may have hoped, but it does provide the (dare I say) most like-able and sympathetic story arc for the character to date. (I mean, he really goes through some stuff)
The bat family continues grow, sometimes at the peril of Bad Blood. While the character of Batwoman is interesting and well done; I can’t help but miss her purpose in this particular story. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy they introduced the character; but the willingness wasn’t there to actually carve her out a full fledged story. She felt more tacked on than integral to what was happening; with the film even throwing her someone to fight one on one in the end, just so she’d have something to do. She wasn’t alone either as for some reason they chose to give Batwing his rushed origin story here as well. Again, the character is like-able and already connected to another character fans love in Luscious Fox (Ernie Hudson); but he also felt tacked on to a story that didn’t need him. The Batwing suit looks awesome and has some really cool capabilities; the character just wasn’t a necessity to the story, which could have used a little more time and exploration.
When the story does get its day in the Gotham sun (does Gotham City even have a sun?) it offers some enthralling moments that make Bad Blood, despite it’s problems stand above the other Batman/Damian films before it. (Minus the ‘Night of the Owls’ side story in Batman Vs. Robin, that was the best)
While it’s never a good thing to have less Batman in anything, it was fun to see Dick Grayson dress up in the bat cowl. A few particular scenes as the story unfolds lead to absolutely fantastic moments between members of the bat family that are sure to have fans at the edge of their seats. There’s a riveting Talia al Ghul story line; despite it not necessarily fitting in with the characters intentions from previous films; and an introduction to a formidable and multi-layered Heretic is welcome, then cut short of the culmination we’d hoped for. Ultimately, the main villains in Bad Blood weave an intricate web that carries some real emotional weight, which makes up for the mixed bag of totally pointless bad guy teams also thrown into the film merely to force the action.
DC Animation continues to offer riveting and deep storytelling in the world of PG-13 animation that’s un-rivaled in the superhero verse. These Batman/Damian stories may not be exactly where fans total interest lie; yet they still manage to captivate. Batman has taken a backseat to his bat “cult” as Batwoman so hatefully refers to it in the film (while wearing a bat suit, which doesn’t really make sense) and while I look forward to more Batman focused entries, I can’t help but be enamored with the story elements they are choosing to run with. Even Damian is starting to rub off on me, meaning Bad Blood accomplished something previously thought impossible, even if it wasn’t perfect. The fact that DC can choose to focus on characters and story-lines that aren’t necessarily fan favorites, yet still manage to make enthralling animated films shows just how talented they are.
Batman: Bad Blood, despite it’s issues ends up being the most interesting story so far in the Batman/Damian story verse and provides the deeply rooted character moments that keep fans coming back. Complaining about certain things, but always coming back. You can purchase Bad Blood currently in digital format or wait for the blu-ray release February 2nd, 2016. As always stay tuned to GeekNation for more updates!
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